Microsoft recently announced visual updates for Office and those updates are now rolling out to users, like myself, who are enrolled in the Office Insider Beta program.

Yesterday I fired up Excel on my Windows 10 Virtual Machine and up popped 1) a new startup screen and 2) an updated Ribbon, replete with rounded corners and a grey strip at the top where there used to be a green strip.

Check out the old and new startup screens and Ribbon below and let me know what you think…

Startup Screen


The first screenshot below is the “old” Ribbon. Compare that with the new, rounded-corner Ribbon…

The Office Beta Program

To check whether you are on the Beta Program, run Excel (or any of the Office applications), click File > Account

Under Product Information, you will find an Office Insider section and an About Excel section although in a corporate environment, you may not see the Office Insider section as it has to be enabled by a System Administrator.

Anyone with a valid Microsoft 365 subscription can join the beta program (subject to the feature being enabled in a corporate environment) and you are free to leave the program at any time and return to using a “more stable release” of the applications. To join:

Click the Office Insider button and select Join Office Insider

Select Sign me up for early access to new releases of Office

Select the Beta channel

Agree to the terms and conditions and click OK

The Coming Soon Panel

If you are on the Office Beta Program, you might have noticed the “Coming Soon Icon” at the top right of the screen in the Office applications. The icon is a megaphone and clicking it opens the Coming Soon Panel.

Coming Soon gives you an opportunity try new features and share feedback with Microsoft before the changes are released to all customers.

The new visual updates will be rolled out automatically but if you’d rather turn them off, click the Coming Soon megaphone, scroll down the panel and switch “Try the new experience” to Off

These Office updates are still a work-in-progress and Microsoft are aware of several issues. At the moment, there is no confirmed date as to when the new updates will be released to all users.

Design History of Excel

Whilst looking for old Excel startup screens, I came across a website called Version Museum. It defines itself as “a visual history of your favourite technology”. Check it out here