Microsoft has recently released a preview version of their new Office 2013 product which adds support for their new touch screen platforms (while maintaining support for PCs).

Looks like anyone can grab a copy and try it out for themselves, if interested you can head on over to the official site. If you have a MSDN account, you can also find a download on there.

I decided to grab it myself to check out a few things, mainly:

  1. What the new interface looks like, and…
  2. If there were any breaking changes in their add-in hosting model and mechanisms.

Although I tend to only write  (hopefully) deep and useful software development articles, let’s make an exception to that pattern today with a little exposé on the new Outlook.

Inbox and Calendar: The New Look (Warning: High Contrast)…

As soon as Outlook loaded I somewhat felt like I was being assaulted with “white”. Man, there is a lot of white color on the new interface.

Any and all shades of color have been nuked and obliterated from the UI. Instead, we have some very solid colors, with blue being a prominent part of the new palette.

Outlook 2013's Ribbon

Outlook 2013's Ribbon

Yes, very white.

I actually like user interfaces with white backgrounds, however, the interfaces I make which use that color tend to be a bit simpler than the one Outlook uses. My immediate reaction to it is not a favorable one.

The inbox panel is also very white:

Outlook 2013's Inbox Panel

Outlook 2013's Inbox Panel

Sorry for the censorship. Regardless, I’d opt to have a bit more of a delineation drawn between the individual items; moreso here than in other places even.

The Navigation Pane has been updated as well; it is now on the very bottom, and it is now composed of words rather than pictures:

Outlook 2013's Navigation Bar

Outlook 2013's Navigation Bar

I do believe I like the calendar very much, however. Here’s a screenshot of everything with the calendar showing:

Outlook 2013's Calendar

Outlook 2013's Calendar

Very short summary: I think I like the look, but I can’t help but feel that the change to the interface initially invokes an overall feeling of shock when looking at it. A bit too white in areas, too; the blue bar at the bottom is kind of bugging me as well.

 Add-ins and Whatnot

All of my add-ins targeting previous version of Outlook loaded successful in Outlook 2013. Looks like they preserved the plugin model they had going before, although I’m sure some unannounced changes will surface eventually, as they always do with new releases of Outlook.

In the future, I will be writing articles covering any new development technologies I run across in Outlook 2013.

Matt Weber

I'm the the Senior Software Architect at Emergingsoft where I lead the software development team. I am also the owner of this website. I enjoy well-designed code, independent thought, and the application of rationality in general. You can reach me at matt@badecho.com.

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