Microsoft rolls out visually updated Office preview, plus native 64-bit Office for Arm

Microsoft is rolling out a test version of its Office desktop apps for Windows 10 and 11 that includes a UI refresh. It also is releasing a test version of 64-bit Office recompiled for Arm 64.

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Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft is releasing a visually "refreshed" version of its Office desktop apps for both Windows 10 and 11 today, June 28. Microsoft officials said this new Office refresh will "shine" on Windows 11 but still work on Windows 10. Microsoft also is releasing its first publicly available test build of 64-bit Office for Windows on Arm today.

The updated Office uses Fluent design across Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access, Project, Publisher, and Visio. The updated apps are meant to look similar to the Windows 11 OS, design-wise. Via the updated Office interface, Office is set to match users' Windows themes, including black (Dark Mode), white, colorful, or dark gray. The Quick Access toolbar is hidden by default in the name of simplifying the interface.

Microsoft's blog post lists known issues in today's test build.

The refreshed Office is available to Office Insider testers running Beta Channel builds. Those who don't want it can turn off the "Coming Soon" feature at the top right hand corner of the menu. Testers can toggle between the new and existing interface to move between the current and newly updated Office apps.

Microsoft also is making publicly available the first 64-bit version of Office running on Windows on Arm. This is a new version of Office that has been recompiled for Arm, according to Microsoft's blog post. It maintains compatibility with 64-bit add-ins using x64 emulation.

"Office on ARM64 is built as an ARM64EC (Emulation Compatible) application, which allows for the ARM64 code of Office to interoperate with x64 code of legacy add-ins," officials said in their blog post, pointing to this article about ARM64EC.

In order to test this new Office for Arm test build, users need a Windows on Arm PC which is enrolled in the Windows Insider Dev Channel so that they can download today's first official test build of Windows 11. They'll also need to be part of the Office Insider program to get access to the Beta channel Office on Arm test build and will need to uninstall any 32-bit versions of Office they might have currently installed.

There are a number of known issues in this Office on ARM64 release. Teams integration with Outlook isn't yet complete and some search features are not yet working properly, Microsoft's blog post says.