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Introducing the new Office 365 App Launcher

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As we continue to expand the great set of online productivity tools available to Office 365 users, we are committed to improving the experience that ties these services together. Today, we’re announcing a new version of the Office 365 App Launcher, which will provide improved discoverability to new and recently used apps, additional customization options and search across all the services and applications you use in the Microsoft Cloud. With one in seven people on the planet using Office, it’s important for us that this new experience feel familiar while also improving access to mission critical applications from across your organization.

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New tabbed layout

The Office 365 App Launcher has always provided a simple, consistent experience to surface applications when and where you need them. Now, we’re taking this one step further and helping bring the apps you use most front and center.

The new tabbed layout allows you to pin and organize tiles in a “HOME” section to provide fast, familiar access to your favorite apps from your Office 365 subscription, the Office Store, Azure apps, SharePoint apps, Line of Business apps and even custom tiles added by organization administrators.

Your company’s recently added apps also get their own “NEW” section, with badge notifications to let you know when a new app is available. We’ve also brought the “ALL” apps page directly into the App Launcher experience to give you quick access to your entire catalog of applications and search from anywhere within Office 365.

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Resize, pin and organize tiles

We also expanded the core functionality of the App Launcher to allow you to resize and organize tiles. These features mirror the familiar look and feel of the Windows 10 Start menu to make switching between applications as seamless as possible. To further enhance the speed at which users can multitask, you can continue to pin up to three applications to the right side of the navigation bar.

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Support for Office 365 themes

The redesigned App Launcher now supports Office 365 themes, including your company’s custom theme. Simply select an Office 365 theme from the Settings menu and see the color scheme reflected throughout the new experience.

Coming soon—access to recent Office documents

We’re working hard on exciting new features for the Office 365 user experience. Over the coming months, you’ll see the ability to access your recent files from across Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote Online simply by clicking the icon’s ellipsis menu. This will help you pick up from where you left off more efficiently.

As we continue to turn your feedback into reality and imagine new scenarios for working, we always want to hear your thoughts. You can always share your thoughts through the Feedback link at Office.com or in the comments below.

—Tom Batcheler, senior product marketing manager for the Office 365 team

Frequently asked questions

Q. When will I see these features in my Office 365 environment?

A. Customers who have opted into First Release will see them later this month. Others will start to see the update in October.

Q. What apps will be available in the App Launcher?

A. The App Launcher will display apps from your Office 365 subscription, the Office Store, Azure apps, SharePoint apps, Line of Business apps and custom tiles.

Q. Will I be able to customize my App Launcher?

A. Yes, however only customers with Exchange will be able to pin, resize and customize tiles.

Q. Why can’t I see the new tabs?

A. Only customers with Exchange will see the tabbed layout.

Q. Can administrators customize the HOME section of the App Launcher on behalf of users?

A. Not yet. We are currently working to enable greater control for Office 365 administrators. Please check back soon.

Q. How do I get additional apps?

A. Additional apps are available from the Office Store.

Q. What if my organization uses a custom theme?

A. Your organization’s theme will be reflected in the new App Launcher.

Q. Are there any resources available to help me communicate this change to end users in my organization?

A. Yes, there is an email template available on Office 365 FastTrack to communicate this change. This email is designed for you to send to your organization on the rollout of this new feature and includes customizable surfaces to reflect your organization’s brand and resources.

Q. Are there any resources available to help me communicate this change to end users in my organization?

A. Yes, there is an email template available to communicate this change. This email is designed for you to send to your organization on the rollout of this new feature and includes customizable surfaces to reflect your organization’s brand and resources.

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24 comments
  1. Thanks for adding this functionality, it will be very helpful and eliminate the need for some custom coding.
    Does the requirement for Exchange mean that if a user does not have an EXOnline mailbox they won’t see this new functionality OR does it mean that an org must have a plan that includes EXO? Please clarify.

    • Thanks for your interest in the new App Launcher. All Office 365 users will see the revamped design with theme support, however the new customization, tile resizing and tabbed layout views are currently only available to users who have an Exchange Online mailbox. We are aware that this will impact a number of customers and are actively working to remove this requirement.

      • Thanks for the quick answer. It is always disappointing to have a question on this blog go unanswered.

        Hopefully it won’t take too long to remove that requirement.

      • I have done some testing, and it appear that an admin without an EXO mailbox cannot add apps to the launcher. Is this expected behavior? If so it totally defeats the purpose of having a separate Admin account, which is a recommended practice.

        • This is expected behavior, however we’re aware that some administrators do not have an EXO mailbox and are working to mitigate this. Keep an eye on the Office 365 Message Center for updates.

      • When you say Exchange Online mailbox, are you referring to OWA? We are using Exchange Online, but have disabled Outlook Web for security purposes. This has unfortunately prevented us from using a number of features in O365.

  2. Any chance this gets brought to SharePoint server so there is a truly unified “hybrid” app launcher?

  3. I am really excited for the update and can’t wait to see it hit my demo tenants. The process of having to explain to customers that they can’t add their custom app to the app launcher is always disappointing. Then having to explain to end users how they can find All Apps is often confusing and makes driving adoption painful.

    Looks like this update will take care of both these pain points! Still need to have admins able to control the Home tiles. That would be a perfect solution.

    • Thanks for the feedback Tanya, it’s really appreciated and I’m glad to see we’re addressing your and your customers’ pain points. To your point about admins having greater control of the HOME section, we hear you and are working on it; I’ll let you know when we have updates to share.

      • A passive bonus is that as customers are moving to Windows 10, this interface is going to feel really consistent. Across PC, Mobile and Web.

        Will some of the tiles be live tiles in the future? Showing things like upcoming appointments on the calendar tile, number of unread emails for the outlook web access tile etc. That would be neat.

        • Glad to hear you like the updated interface. Regarding live tiles, I don’t have anything concrete to share but it is something we’re considering and I agree it would be both cool and useful.

      • Thank you for replying, Arjun. I already have the update on one of my demo tenants, and in our corporate tenant (first release).

        The email template referenced at the end is outdated – it talks about the initial roll out of the app launcher. Do you know if it will be updated to reflect the most recent update that’s rolling out now? And if so, when?

  4. Under what section/area is the email template mentioned in answer to the last question? I just see the usual FastTrack materials, nothing specific about this change.

  5. Great progress from the original app launcher. Still, the single most useful feature for administrators will be the ability to customize a users pinned apps systematically. I’d like the options to assign pins through AD/365 groups as well as individual users.

    Any ETA on when this feature will be available?

    • Thanks for the interest in the new app launcher James.

      If you are asking for an ETA about the updated app launcher, you can start seeing it next week if you have opted into First Release. Otherwise, expect to see it later in October. If you’re asking about an ETA about the ability for administrators to customize the app launcher, we’re aware this is a highly requested feature and working on it. Unfortunately, I don’t have an ETA I can share right now.

  6. Really great update to the app launcher, including the ability to add custom apps, incl. those protected by the Azure AD. My company is building one such app but we are greatly missing the ability to include app launcher in our app too.

    So currently, a user can click on the app launcher and navigate to our app, but we are not able to include app laucher in our app so that they can have the same experience and navigate back to Outlook or any other app. Are there any plans to make this component available as a library, for developers to reuse throughout other apps?

  7. There should be an option for admin to set the default app tiles for the group/organization, this can reduce time to educate employees on how, what and where to set or find information in the highly overloaded day to day activities.

    Thanks.
    Zulqarnain
    M.Sc. ISM

  8. That final Q/A item “Yes, there is an email template available on the Office 365 Success Center to communicate this change” just send us to the FastTrack site – a link to the actual template would be great. There’s no search or other function to allow for us to quickly get the content you refer to and if we can’t find it quickly then it’s not going to be used.

    Please assist us in assisting our internal customers. For example what I’m saying it for you not to be THAT clerk in the market that says “yeah, it’s down aisle 5” but rather tell us what side of the aisle and which shelf to find what we need, or better yet, walk us to it and point it out.

    Many thanks!

  9. This looks great! Keen to learn more about any other capabilities/functions, particularly across support for multiple languages (e.g. assigning different name/URL/description per custom tile), and any admin vs user specific options (e.g. suggested apps). How can we learn more and/or perhaps provide more constructive feedback/suggestions?

  10. This looks great! Next to the personal applauncher it would be a nice feature to be able to define certain categories, for instance HR, and prefill that with all HR apps. Could be easily done by adding metadata to the apps like ‘used by’ and ‘used for’.

Comments are closed.