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article imageNext Microsoft Office includes the return of 'Dark' theme

By James Walker     Sep 19, 2014 in Technology
In recent weeks, various bits of information on the next Windows have been circulated but Microsoft's other big money-spinner, Office, has remained hidden in the background. Yesterday that changed however as some images of the next Office appeared online.
The Verge was first to report that a technical preview of the next version of the trusted productivity suite used by millions worldwide has already been sent to select Microsoft partners. Although not many details have been revealed, this is likely to be an early build, substantially different from the finished product.
The key feature made apparent so far is the return of the optional "Dark" theme that was available in Office 2010. Although the bright, white backdrop to 2013 helps preserve the flat, minimalist accenting on the UI, many find the contrast a little too high. It is possible to choose two shades of grey to darken it a little but overall Office 2013 has a noted emphasis on brightness. This is bad for those who use Office for long periods on a regular basis as brighter colours mean more glare from the monitor and so increased eye strain, eventually causing eye fatigue.
Microsoft Office 16 clothed in a  Dark  theme
Microsoft Office 16 clothed in a "Dark" theme
The Verge
The "new" dark theme looks much the same as the one in Office 2010 which will please many people. The main UI background is shrouded by a veil of dark grey with the much-loved Ribbon toolbar interface accentuated in a lighter shade. The status bar at the bottom of the interface is a deep, smart full black instead of its usual form of adopting the colour of the particular program's icon.
Neowin reports that another feature said to be under development is automatic image rotation. Sure to be popular with users, Office will now use the metadata embedded in pictures by cameras to automatically position the picture on the page in the orientation in which it was taken.
Users of the Outlook productivity and organisation tool will be pleased to learn that you can now choose to download mail from shorter time periods than before. Currently, you must download 30 days' worth of mail as a minimum but the new options include one day, three days, one week or two weeks, making it easier to keep your inbox clean.
Aside from a new interactive help tool called "Tell me", residing in the top toolbar like on Office Online, the builds do not include many other new features and the UI is as-yet unchanged since Office 2013. Microsoft will be certainly implementing many new features and refining others over the coming months though to keep Office on-top as open-source alternatives like Libre Office gradually eat into its market share.
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