What’s Missing in the New Office 365 App Launcher Experience

The Office 365 app launcher has undergone multiple variations over the past few years.  The existing style was announced in September 2016, and just a year later is drastically changing again.  While users will adapt, these frequent complete overhauls do present challenges for internal communications with the user base.

The newest iteration started hitting first release users and tenants this month.  It has a clean design, and should be easy for users to navigate.  Microsoft’s plan is to create the app launcher layout based on recent activity by that specific user, meaning each user will have an initial layout that is custom to them.  I noticed one key piece of information in the below excerpt from the official announcement:

Will all my users see the same apps they do today?

While the new app launcher is in First Release, a user’s main view will include a default set of apps, plus any additional apps the user opened in the last couple of days. Beyond First Release, a user’s main view will include their new defaults and any additional apps a user has utilized in the last 30 days. From the All view, users can also easily pin any app, including admin custom tiles, to the main view of their launcher.

That key piece of information in the excerpt – “users can also easily pin any app”.  What is not mentioned is the ability to unpin apps.  While you are free to pin and unpin some apps (at least in First Release) there is not a way to unpin what Microsoft determined was the default set of apps.

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I am hoping we see some flexibility on the ability to unpin these default apps so the user can be empowered to customize their own experience.

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