Microsoft's Trying Out a New Office App and Redesigned Start Menu

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft's changes to Windows 10 preview builds usually oscillate between mundane updates most people won't notice and significant updates that are pretty hard to miss. The changes introduced with Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 18305 this week belong to the latter category. Microsoft has redesigned the Start menu, released a new Office app and made plenty of other updates that make it clearly distinguishable from its predecessors.

In a blog post, Microsoft discussed the redesigned Start menu for "new devices, new user accounts and clean installs" that has been "simplified into a sleek one column design with reduced top-level tiles." Combine that reduction of app-related clutter with the new Light mode introduced with an older preview build and the new Start menu ends up looking fairly different from the one available in current versions of Windows 10.

But that's not the only familiar sight being revamped by Preview Build 18305. Microsoft also included a new Office app based on the redesigned website. More information about the app, which is supposed to offer "a great starting point for Office that helps you easily find all your files in one place or easily access any Office solution available to you."

"The app itself is free and it can be used with any Office 365 subscription, Office 2019, Office 2016, or Office Online—the free web-based version of Office for consumers. ... Starting this summer, new Windows 10 devices will come with the Office app already installed—making it easier than ever to start using Office on a new PC," Microsoft said in its Office365 blog post.

Preview Build 18305 also includes new troubleshooting features that allow Windows 10 to automatically resolve "critical" problems so things keep operating as intended. Microsoft said this feature can't be disabled, though, which could lead to problems for advanced users.

The other big update debuting with this build is Windows Sandbox. It pretty much does what you'd expect: makes it easy to create Windows 10 virtual machines so people don't have to run every single executable file they come across without checking it first.

Preview Build 18305 also includes an updated Windows Security app, redesigned Settings page and many other updates that should appeal to their respective niches. If that's enough to convince you to install this build, you can do so by signing up for the Fast ring of the Windows Insider Program. Just remember that this is pre-release software, so it's all but guaranteed to have glaring issues.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.