Instead of handsome, stylish contours that represent the old concept of opening a local document, each icon has a distinctive shape that indicates its specific role. Excel has a rectangular icon to mirror spreadsheets, but you’ll see a circular pie chart for PowerPoint, abstract team layers, and similar changes for other apps. The focus on content over format mimics the “366 synergy property,” design manager Jon Friedman said.
Yes, they are purely superficial changes that do not translate into functional improvements. But it’s easy to see this as a symbolic milestone for Microsoft as a whole, not just Office. The 201
3 icons came at the end of the Steve Ballmer era, when the company was still rotating around Windows and only raising its cloud services (Office 365 launched in 2011). Flash until 2018 and it’s another story. Conventional Office editions and windows still exist, but Microsoft is enjoying the cloud and considers Windows just a bit of a bigger puzzle. There is a real chance that you can never click on these icons on a computer’s desktop, and it speaks volumes about tech giant’s transition.