Changing to a theme with color in Office 2013?

Please...PLEASE...someone tell me there is a way to change the Office 2013 RTM themes beyond just a grey-scale look. All I can see is "White", "Light Grey", and "Dark Grey"...which is equivalent to "Stormtrooper White", Stormtrooper Light Grey", and "Stormtrooper Dark Grey". Did the Adams Family design the Office 2013...because everything looks like a flat-styled death theme compared to Office 2010. I'm quite literally getting eye-strain from it. I can see a headache coming on if I try to use this all day.

Is there some option I'm missing, some third-party add-on, a registry tweak...or ANYTHING that will add a blue, tan, or any other splash of real color to Office 2013? Also, is there some way to add some depth to the slider bars? Everything looks so flat....and dead. I'm working with these tools all day long...and it's like I'm living in a Twilight Zone episode. I feel depressed after using Office 2013.

  • Edited by SAS71 Saturday, October 27, 2012 11:17 PM
October 28th, 2012 2:07am

Unfortunately, I don't think so. It is AWFUL!! I've been using it less than 2 days - and was very tempted to go back to 2010, but I like a couple of the features - especially in PowerPoint.

What were they thinking?

  • Proposed as answer by mase2008 Tuesday, January 28, 2014 3:11 PM
  • Unproposed as answer by mase2008 Tuesday, January 28, 2014 3:11 PM
Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
October 28th, 2012 2:27am

You start Windows 8...and see all the crazy colors. Wow...there are colors's like Teletubbies land. Then, you launch the Excel 2013 app...and all the life is instantly sucked right out of Windows 8. You can feel it in your bones. The Office apps are a barren, Boot Hill-esque, cold wasteland....with grey and white tumbleweeds and gravestones. Then, you go back into Metro...and's the Skittles rainbow monster voraciously attacking everything in sight. Nom nom nom nom. Big blocks of color coming at's crazy man...what a Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas trip crazy! You are flying sky high with the bats and stingrays. Life is groovy. You then launch Outlook 2013 and WHAM...there you are...slammed down to the ground...back in Frankenweenie land ready to raise some dead animals or something.

How hard would it be to add a color option to Office 2013? Would it literally...take all of 10 minutes to code? Is there a color option coming soon? the next few weeks soon? If this is Microsoft's new schtick...I'll even accept a "Dripping Blood Red" or "Burnt Corpse Greenish Brown"  theme option at this point....I'm so color depraved. Why isn't there any color in the number one Microsoft cash cow? Did vampires develop it? Did Trent Reznor manage the project? Is Office 2013 an homage to Boris Karloff? What's up?

Actually...I don't care what's up...I just want to know how to fix it. Really, there is no way to fix it? Really?

  • Marked as answer by SAS71 Sunday, October 28, 2012 4:23 AM
  • Edited by SAS71 Sunday, October 28, 2012 2:30 PM
  • Unmarked as answer by SAS71 Sunday, October 28, 2012 9:17 PM
  • Proposed as answer by GreenJelloLand Thursday, January 10, 2013 7:24 PM
October 28th, 2012 3:17am

Haha, It looks exactly like this site. All the new MS products look like they're going back in time with all these plain, blah colors.

Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
November 13th, 2012 10:46pm

I have just un-installed the Office 2013 Preview, and installed the Office 2013 RTM 60-day trial on my Windows 8 Enterprise Evaluation PC (a spare machine). The Evaluation runs out in three weeks, and so far, I see no reason to re-install Office 2013 (or even Windows 8) on that PC. 

Thanks to the possibility to add a bit of contrast, Office looks a little less awful than before - but in terms of looks, it's still miles behind even Office 2003 under Windows XP, which is what I use on my main PC (the 'silver' theme is my favourite). Too much - way too much - has been sacrificed for the sake of touch-screen lookalikeness and modern style.

It annoys me that in order to upgrade my PC to the latest software-technological level, I have to accept what some tw... I mean person, has decided is Design.

"It is New, therefore it is Good", people tell me. "Get over it, live with it", they say. "Boll...." no, I'd better not write what I reply here. Suffice it to say that I disagree with those sentiments. A lot.

  • Edited by Dogmatix2 Sunday, November 18, 2012 9:50 AM
November 18th, 2012 9:49am

But what is the point to it?  Like I said it isn't compatible with Windows 8, the old classic grey colour scheme seems to be the most similar and its not in Windows 8.  I can't see how its anymore touch friendly either really.

Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
November 19th, 2012 7:10pm

It is truly a travesty what they've done with Office 2013. There is feature after countless feature removed from Office 2010...and it looks terrible to boot. I'm absolutely baffled as to what the Office team has been doing for the past 3 years. It looks like they spent all their time removing things. Honestly, Office 2010 is a better product...hands down. PowerPoint is somewhat improved...but the rest of the apps are worse than what we previously had. I wish I was being over the top...but I'm not...they really are worse with less features than Office 2010. It also looks nothing like Metro. Metro is colorful and such...Office 2013 makes you want to commit suicide.

Just check out how many features have been removed:

I uninstalled it as was making my eyes bleed. I can't tell you how much happier I am to be back and running Outlook 2010. It looks SOOOOO much better, has color, and 3d slider bars, and life! The flat look of grey eye death is finally gone! What a waste of my's a waste of time to upgrade.

  • Edited by SAS71 Wednesday, November 21, 2012 2:45 AM
November 21st, 2012 2:35am

I think they have spent a fair amount of time on Access, there are lots of differences including a lot of feature removals, haven't spent enough time fiddling with it to say whether it's better or worse, I suppose it depends on what features you use.

Edit: okay now I have, where the hell have pivot tables gone?

Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
November 22nd, 2012 5:04pm

Microsoft should consider Walt Disney's approach to designing Disneyland:

Upon seeing the original design for how the sidewalks were going to be laid out in Disneyland (with right-angle turns), Walt commented with the following:  "People aren't soldiers! They don't turn in at sharp angles! Curve the sidewalks! Make the corners round!"

However, after the park opened, Walt noticed that in some places, guests ignored the sidewalks and would cut across the grass, or jump over a hedge to get to the next attraction.  Initially, he was a bit vexed over this situation, but (being Walt Disney and all), he realized that he was not only fighting a losing battle, but his guests had developed a better traffic flow solution than the park's engineers.

He instructed his team to let the guests walk wherever they wanted, and to observe how the crowds would instinctively create the best path from A to B.  Based on this data, they tore out some of the original sidewalks and created new ones to accommodate the natural flow of the crowds.

Microsoft could use Walt Disney right about now...

  • Edited by N2TheBlu Saturday, December 01, 2012 10:49 PM Grammar
December 1st, 2012 10:49pm

I couldn't take it... Went back to Office 2010 and carrying on with it.
  • Edited by JeffLe73 Wednesday, December 12, 2012 4:59 AM
Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
December 12th, 2012 4:59am

At least I can change the default for Windows 8 to something like a reasonable blue frame.  I am actually having trouble with office 2013 because I can't distinguish the boundaries, and the change in read and unread email I want the FROM name bold, not the slight blue on the subject, I can't scan it and the view is so "bright" even dark gray is bright.  Spend the day and create a hundred color themes including OFFICE 2010 Theme!

I also don't like products yelling at me the menu FILE  HOME  SEND/RECEIVE  FOLDER  VIEW  Conferencing (using communicator 2007)

How do I get a more pleasant menu as well, please stop yelling at me.

UPDATE:  I found a way to stop the yelling by modifying the ribbon and renaming each menu item by adding a space after it (except for FILE).  I also found the view settings to modify the font and highlight on read and unread messages, though it could be a lot better and is still limited on coloring etc.

But the theme is still...  well dead.

December 21st, 2012 11:03pm

+1 on all the above.

Microsoft, what were you thinking ?????

After years of refining a superb UI for office, it's all been tossed out and replaced by something that looks like an Unix X window interface of 15 years ago.

It does hurt my eyes and I don't think I'll be able to use it for more than a couple of days before going back to 2010.

At least give us a 'make this look a little bit like Office 2010' option.

Terrible mistake.


Billions of people will have 2 choices left: Feel depressed by using their day to days office 2013 software or quit and move to something better and cooler... IOS and Android tablets be my guest! Youre finally killing the PC and therefore yourself by thinking we will all follow you in your dreadful madness and self-fulfilling believes.

And please, dont think one sec that youre facing the kind of people who refuse to learn/evolve. Windows 8 makes everything painful when it comes to be efficient at work and office 2013 with its great lack of contrast makes everything feel messy. Sorry guys, but your concept of casual working tools & OS is a complete failure and its tide to very little details.

Let people decide if they want to start or not with your modern UI or not, let them decide if they feel the need or not of a fast and efficient start menu, let them decide if they want to be able to contrast their interface elements in order to make things clear

Youve try and no one is gone a blame you for it but you obviously failed (see billions of negatives comments over the internet and watch your sales figures) now its time to listen actively to your customer community and do the little needed fixes quickly otherwise is going to be too late and we all need you guys in this industry surrounding because after all, youre making good products!

For the time being START8 from stardock software is our best friend and its a shame !


Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
December 28th, 2012 3:37pm

MICROSOFT, PLEASE, find SOME SMART GRAPHICS DESIGNERS and ask them to use their imagination to bring OFFICE 2013 back to life !!!!

Actually it shouldn't be too hard:

why in the world did you decide to make everything totally FLAT and WHITE (oh yes, GREY too if you like it !!!) ?????????

You are killing my eyes and wasting a lot, I mean, a lot of space between buttons, frames etc.... touch users work with fingers - I understand that - but you went beyond wildest imagination with this excessive UI spacing.

I bet you had to do that because, without colors and being everything flat, the only way you had to visually organize and separate different features in the UI was to use A LOT of "distance" between them, ergo these incredibly wide white spaces filled with nothing....killing everybody's eyes!!!!

....and - by the way - all this excessive spacing is steeling very precious pixels from the small 1366 x 768 tablet touch screens (which I use too)....making the Windows 8 tablet user even angrier!

You guys came up with a lot of good innovations lately but YOU TOTALLY FAILED on the USER INTERFACE side.


go back to using COLORS and BRING depth (or call it z-order dimension if you will) back in the game....don't you realize that by using 3 dimensions (instead of 2 = FLAT) you can communicate much more information with the same pixels???????   You had it right with AERO....try to come up with a new version of METRO that has all the good qualities of AERO combined and you'll see a lot of VERY HAPPY CUSTOMERS !!!!

 I truly hope someone in MSFT is listening and taking immediate action.

Thank you.

  • Edited by Macarone Saturday, January 05, 2013 9:42 PM
January 5th, 2013 9:41pm

Yeah... I tried to get used to the new "design" ... three times

no luck... It`s my third time now to uninstall Office 2013 and install again Office 2010 :)

By the way Windows 8 is not so bad when you install a third party App to return the Start menu and make it usable.

I hope that there will be third party apps that will make Office 2013 usable too. But for now I`ll have to use Office 2010 :)

  • Proposed as answer by Pipsqueak2056 Saturday, January 19, 2013 4:49 AM
  • Unproposed as answer by Pipsqueak2056 Saturday, January 19, 2013 4:49 AM
Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
January 17th, 2013 8:50pm


I bought Office 2013 through my company's Home User Program for $9.95 and after installing it I realize that I paid too much. 

I've been using Microsoft products professionally since before Windows 3 but I really can't use Office 2013 at all - it's just horrible to look at and has no compelling features.  Outlook is quite simply the ugliest, most repulsive piece of software I've ever seen.

How can a company be so stupid?

  • Proposed as answer by JeffLe73 Sunday, January 20, 2013 12:26 AM
January 19th, 2013 7:58am

The graphical interface of Office 2013 is really bad and the design is not suitable for use intessive. Thank you for making the necessary to provide an update of the product to have more colorful icons and theme approaching the interface of Windows 8 (Start Screen). Last, notifications emails should again allow the execution of actions. Integration with Windows 8 has lost these functions.

Currently it is clearly not feasible to conduct a migration to MS Office 2013. The recommendation is to stay on the version of Office 2010.
  • Edited by Pierre_CD67 Tuesday, January 22, 2013 1:05 PM
Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
January 22nd, 2013 1:04pm

The graphical interface of Office 2013 is really bad and the design is not suitable for use intessive. Thank you for making the necessary to provide an update of the product to have more colorful icons and theme approaching the interface of Windows 8 (Start Screen). Last, notifications emails should again allow the execution of actions. Integration with Windows 8 has lost these functions.

Currently it is clearly not feasible to conduct a migration to MS Office 2013. The recommendation is to stay on the version of Office 2010.
  • Edited by Pierre_CG67 Tuesday, January 22, 2013 1:05 PM
January 22nd, 2013 4:04pm

Agreed, The Office 2013 UI is shockingly bad. I shifted back to Office 2010 pretty quickly.

It will be going nowhere near our School network anytime soon until something gets changed.

It would be an improvement if we could actually manage the Office UI Theme via registry like you could in Office 2007/2010 but you can't in 2013 as it ignores the registry entry and dumps everyone back into the hideous white theme.

Another fail by Microsoft, Its almost as bad as Windows 8.

  • Edited by Dave684 Sunday, January 27, 2013 12:51 AM spelling
Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
January 27th, 2013 3:50am

I found this thread and created an account on the forums because of this problem.

Word especially really hurts my eyes on my 24" monitor, where the document in the center of the screen is flanked by two unnecessary bright white panels.  Yes it really lacks pizazz in all three of the "themes" (which was a real surprise considering Win8's great looks) but more importantly it's just not an interface I want to look at for long because it hurts and makes my eyes tired.   In a dark room I repeately reach for the brightness to reduce it's assault on my eyes but the lack of contrast makes everything even more difficult to see.  I'm 29 and have 20/20 eyesight with no contacts or glasses if it matters.  I cant imagine what others with worse vision are going through.  (This may not be a problem for tablet users because the screens just aren't that big.)

Microsoft, you need to consider a few things here. 

1)  Add themes with color and improved contrast.  Please don't fall into a trap thinking "They don't like it now, but they will and when they do we'll be heroes."  It's not just about style, it's about discomfort and usability.  This is just not one of those "trust me, you'll like it" situations.  If you're trying to make some kind of statement with the current themes, keep them but you need to add others.

2)  FILE  EDIT  VIEW etc. are too brash in all caps.  This is another small design detail that overall impacts user comfort.  Nothing else in Win8 to my knowledge shouts at the user like this and nothing about it is "modern."  If you need to be convinced, look at companies who have recently modernized their fonts and logos, such as GE or even Microsoft's new logo.  'Modernization' was a priority, but there was no sudden embrace of all caps.  (There is an interesting article about GE's new font and how they tried to modernize it and make the company feel more accessible on the web somewhere.)

3)  The lack of "button edges" around functions doesn't bother me too much, but consider an option (a checkbox on/off perhaps) to add button edges if the user desires.  I understand that on a tablet, button edges may suggest to the user that they need to touch more accurately in the square than they need to, but with a mouse it's nice to have the subconcious? mental clue that the cursor is in the right place.

You can implement all of these things very easily while preserving the original look for other users, and for the price of Office software and it's status as the flagship productivity suite it should offer baseline adjustments for comfort.  Right now it's like a Rolls Royce without adjustable seats - it's a lot of money and we can't get comfortable.

I hope the time I spent giving well thought out feedback (as opposed to quickly written criticism) convinces you how important this is to me and possibly the predicted success of the product.  A lot of people are going to notice this in Microsoft stores, and who knows how many people might be silently turned away by this because afterall, Office 2010 is still a great product.
  • Edited by redraider832 Wednesday, January 30, 2013 5:27 PM
January 30th, 2013 8:20pm


I am so disappointed in the narrow perspective Microsoft have taken here in your design. I am the CEO of a
charitable disabilities organisation and the new 2013 MS Office is a poor design
for use and readability. It does lack consideration of Occupational Health and Safety Standards
and completely fails when considering those with visual disabilities. Even I find it prisms when reading and my eyes are straining.

You have gone for design over function and despite the new additional options can't you see that if the
visual fails no one will spend the time on the program to use it to its full capacity.

I have mistakenly just installed this an all of our systems to correct an issue in outlook 2010
which the new installation did, but now have a larger issue of workplace health and safety.

Please create some add ins or upgrades to correct this quickly.

  • Edited by CATAGroup Thursday, February 07, 2013 4:15 AM
Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
February 7th, 2013 7:02am

Just installed Office 2013 and am flabbergasted by how white (even the "dark" themes) actually are. I mean, seriously? You get it completely right with the dark interface in VS 2012 and then completely bomb on Office. Maybe your business groups should talk a bit more to each other about design thematics. I'm going back to 2012; there's no way I can stand to look at this much white for 12 hours a day..
  • Proposed as answer by moh10ly Friday, February 08, 2013 11:06 AM
February 8th, 2013 4:50am


I do not think continously cut&paste your default answer "We have passed this information to the product group for consideration for a future product or update.. and or "we are monitoring pain points..." " is what we would expect from a professional forum like this. If in large companies I hear Execs opposing to upgrading to office2013 beaucse of the lack of options to change colour schemes apart from three shades of grey and them facing potential OHS complaints from medical staff and/or employees, I would not hesitate one second and escalate this up to the level of Balmer. You cannot continue to ignore these valid remarks provided by (so far) very loyal users.  I think 99.9% of Office use is on corporate /academic / private desktop computers not on a tablet. Quite honostly on my 3 - 26 inch expensive monitors the least I want is a boring eighties style interface that might (I say might) work on a tablet.  In my environment (professionally and privately) I hear nothing but complaints about this dreadful interface (and it's inability  to be changed).  I cannot imagine that "I will de-install and go back to Office 2010" or : " I will not upgrade" is the kind of response you might want from your most valuable existing user base. I think there is a lot at stake for your Office business unit so if I where you I would take these signals extremely serious and not wait even a week to provide additional templates so that you can put your existing hughe Office user base back in their comfort zone or there might be no real further future for this product. In my view the future of office is still on a desktop, not on a tablet or surface that (at current) nobody buys.

PS: 26000+ views on this topic: got the message folks? Steve Balmer? Anybody listening at MS to your users (your bread and butter)?

  • Edited by StefanWeckx Friday, February 08, 2013 12:35 PM
Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
February 8th, 2013 3:05pm

Why can I have beautiful themes in my Gmail web site, but on my locally installed Office app all I get is this horrible, eye strain-inducing flatness? And why, WHY, did they change the outlookicon to blue, surely confusing millions of users for weeks? This is why people aren't buying WinPho! Its ugly, flat & boring. We can see three dimensionally for a reason. I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to go back to 2010, which was bad enough with its extremely limited color options, but at least had some.

  • Edited by Willmgo Tuesday, February 12, 2013 9:29 PM
February 13th, 2013 12:28am

I found this solution for centrally setup black Office 2013 color theme for all my users (this is a part of common user login script):

REG ADD HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Common\Roaming\Identities\%USERNAME%@%USERDOMAIN%_AD\Settings\1170\{00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000}\PendingChanges /v Data /t REG_BINARY /d 02000000 /f
REG ADD HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Common /v "UI Theme" /t REG_DWORD /d 2 /f

Replace 02000000 with  00000000 and </d 2 /f> with </d 0 /f> for completely white theme or 1 for middle.

We use russian Office version. For other languages key 1170 may have other values probably.

  • Edited by SSGAZPROM Friday, February 15, 2013 11:16 AM
Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
February 15th, 2013 2:12pm

Just spent over an hour going through the .exe files and .dll files looking for the graphics just in case I could manually replace them.
I found a whole bunch of icons, but the main bulk and look of the menu has eluded me.
I want the functionality of 2013 (there are some nice new features that I like!) with the look of 2010.  Opening them side by side it's clear as day that 2010 is WAY nicer, easier on the eye and easier to find your icons.

Why can't we just pick the overall colour as we do with Windows 7 aero where I can make it any shade of any colour I want.  How is this progress?! :)

  • Edited by CreepyD Monday, February 18, 2013 12:35 PM
February 18th, 2013 3:33pm

I hate the new look and feel of Office 2013.  I think Microsoft is changing it "just to change it" but now this is a huge step backward!  It is too hard to see the menu nav icons at-a-glance.  My eyeballs hurt with this failed effort at simplicity.  This is the first time I have ever been disappointed by an Office upgrade, and I've been using Office since the late 1980s.   I am tempted to go back to Office 2010.

  • Edited by fpbear Friday, February 22, 2013 10:43 AM
Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
February 22nd, 2013 1:42pm

Same here, installed it yesterday and uninstalling it right now. Too bright, too little contrast, separations too hard to distinguish, very bad UI. Doesn't take a UI guru to see how bad this actually hits on productivity.

Why would MS ruin such a Cash Cow as Office? Well ask the Windows Mobile team about monumental fails.

There is no way we will install this for our users (small company, 150 users).

  • Edited by PCP69 Wednesday, February 27, 2013 11:14 AM
February 27th, 2013 2:13pm

Are the folks at Microsoft using this piece of crap 2013 white all over the place Outlook client?  Probably not otherwise they would be the first to revolt.  Who the hell wants to look at a bright white screen all day!  MICROSOFT I'M GOING BLIND HERE AND YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE!!!

Microsoft employees older than 18 are likely not using it.

Our company made a decision just today to not upgrade to Office 2013 because of the interface and we will not be subscribing to Office 365 because of this interface that is used in its Office offering.

We will purchase new licenses to allow us to downgrade to Office 2010, but we will not be spending the type of money we would have if they hadn't screwed up the UI.

We also will not purchase or upgrade any desktop or laptop with or to Windows 8 and will continue to install Windows Server 2008 R2 on our physical and virtual servers.

None of us in the shop can understand what happened to Microsoft, bad decision after bad decision.

Office 2013 UI, Windows 8 UI, Windows Server 2012 UI, Surface RT and Pro, Windows Phones, etc.

Maybe Ballmer is trying to kill the company or is this all part of Steven Sinofsky's revenge.

Ex-Microsoft Partner.

One additional thing: Just noticed in the news, Microsoft is discounting Windows 8 to developers to increase sales (Today: 3-6-2013), which is very unlikely to increase sales of Windows 8. I have found that on a desktop or laptop almost nobody likes the UI.

  • Edited by TBeckner OTEC Thursday, March 07, 2013 2:14 AM New News
Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
March 7th, 2013 5:09am

I'm uninstalling Office 2013 and going back to Office 2010.  That they charge money for this downgrade in functionality that is called Office 2013 is insulting.  I'd have to poke my eyes out if I had to use Outlook 2013 every day.
  • Edited by CleverRoX Friday, March 29, 2013 7:19 PM
March 29th, 2013 10:19pm

Why on earth has Microsoft NOT given users the ability to customise Office 2013?

I have installed it as part of Office 365 (cheapest way to get Office pro) and am astonished. The big issue is usability - the 2010 coloured ribbon bar, etc, made items and areas of the window much more distinguishable - it now takes longer to idenbtify the required command. So, Office 2013 is a backwards step in usability. How could they do this, after all their testing? Who's in charge, and how can we get them sacked?

The other issue is aesthetics. Both Windows 8 (which I installed as an upgrade as Vista, and then bought a new copy of Windows 7 and upgraded from Windows 8 to a useable system) and office 2013 are plain ugly.

There is a science of aesthetics, and no-one with decision authority at Microsoft understands it.

Humans DON'T like straight lines and sharp corners. They don't like plain slabs of colour. They like seeing varying detail at different levels of magnification. This is NOT just opinion - it is established by multiple scientific studies.

All the windozes since Windows 3 have been getting more and more attractive by these criteria - Aero was really good.

Now Microsoft has forced interfaces on us that are not as attractive to humans - in a scientifically objective sense.

I think the real reason most people dislike Windows 8 and Office 2013 is that they are just plain ugly - and facing an ugly screen all day is just plain awful.

  • Proposed as answer by Bryan Spiegel Friday, May 17, 2013 1:14 PM
Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
April 28th, 2013 2:33am

I guess you need to consider the direction all this technology is going in as well.

Most vendors are making their apps cloud based, as it's not really that efficient to stream many different colours. The whole Office 2013 / Windows 8 interface appears to have been optimised to be bandwith efficient.

I agree, there could be some better colour combinations, but then your asking developers to do aesthetics.

Maybe MSFT should do the code and Apple could do the UI....

And if you still think it looks bad, run up Solaris up in a VM, go look at IT'S gui, then come back and complain...

  • Edited by jimmywhite Wednesday, May 22, 2013 9:56 AM
May 22nd, 2013 12:56pm

For me it isn't the color scheme as much as how flat it looks, it needs some depth, especially around the tabs for the ribbon bar, and how the title bar no longer has a focus color.

The new style used in Office 2013 (and regrettably in pretty much everything coming out of Microsoft nowadays including websites and developer tools) is the one reason I'm glad about Office365 being a subscription program - it means I don't have to pay the full price for Office 2013 before experiencing how terrible it looks!

Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
May 28th, 2013 9:47pm

I agree that the UI for Office 2013 is terrible.  When I'm in Office 2013 Calendar, everything is a monochromatic tint of blue.  Nothing stands out.

Finding "Today" is hard.  I would want to set the color for Today in a complementary color.  Also, I'd like to change the background color from bright white to a pale, yellow or some unsaturated tint.  Everything is harder to read and find because of the monochromatic theme.

Also, for the vision impaired, the light greys and low contrast that is present everywhere is just a killer. Is Microsoft intentionally trying to ignore the needs of users who have poorer vision?  Hue contrast as well as brightness contrasts are dearly needed.

A solution to this would be to allow customers to apply whatever appearances they want for the individual UI components that make up the application.

June 4th, 2013 2:19pm

I concur that the Office themes do not have high enough contrast for many users.  The darker gray in Office 2010 was more pragmatic and a good sample of a high contrast design.  Other colors could be used, but they should make program elements stand out against each other

  • Edited by Action Pack Member Friday, June 07, 2013 12:40 PM
  • Proposed as answer by Hennakl Wednesday, June 12, 2013 6:19 AM
  • Unproposed as answer by Hennakl Wednesday, June 12, 2013 6:19 AM
Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
June 7th, 2013 12:39pm

Wow, I can't believe the negativity in this thread! I did initially find Office 2013 rather bland when I first used it but quickly got used to the crisp clean look. I never saw the look as "bad" & actually when I see Office 2010 now it looks kind of "cartoonish".

I suspect by the comments here that most users never fine tune their monitors as I have never regarded the look as overly harsh just rather clinical. I quickly got used to it am I'm just so impressed by the subtle improvements whilst not obvious with a little effort it is in fact the best ever.

Just my thoughts & observation, obviously I am alone on this one. This whole thread comes as somewhat of a shock to me, all I can suggest is try the colour/contrast settings on your monitor!

  • Proposed as answer by Kogarah Monday, July 01, 2013 9:35 AM
July 1st, 2013 9:35am


Office 2013 Professional is horrible.  Colors are bland, typefaces are hard to read, eye strain and headaches are real.  If Microsoft cannot deliver state-of-the-art, high definition, 3-dimensional, blazing colors, and flash movement, like Apple, I'm finished.  Competitive products are up-and-coming, and I will spend more time evaluating those instead of blindly following Microsoft's lead.  Fool me once, but not twice!

  • Edited by Wahawk Friday, July 12, 2013 3:26 AM Poor Quality
Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
July 12th, 2013 3:24am

Ezio Lucenti - I think you are being racist and derogatory with your comments. I hope your comment is removed.
  • Edited by MattG8 Wednesday, July 24, 2013 3:22 PM addded name
July 24th, 2013 3:21pm

Max here!

Yes the design is a psychological disaster in many ways.

People use color as distinguishing features and assiciate by custom  certain colors

to certain dangers or as markers for catching and getting attention.

The flashing blue lights for firefighters, police cars and ambulances.

The red stop lights, Red is stop or varning, yellow is for watching it, green mens go etc.

Besides the contrasts in these new themes is extremely poor, they are very tiring for your eyes during an 8 hour work day.

For middle aged nearsighted people like me - and yes I have VERY GOOD  lighning conditions in my office -

I have a hard time reading the letters in the left pane of Outlook 2013 - I have to lean my face into the screen to be able to read properly. ( 40 cm - 15inches away )

Good design is good design - it does NOT - equal simplistic or ugly design

Cheers:  Max!

  • Edited by Max Wiberg Friday, October 11, 2013 2:23 PM
Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
October 11th, 2013 2:21pm

This is a shocking piece of design. I would settle for some indicator telling me which window is active. 

At the moment a window changes from grey to a marginally darker grey. 

The choice between three barely distinguishable themes makes no difference. 

and the utterly pointless option of a "background". Laughable. Or at least it would be funny if I wasn't trying to do some work ! 

The Office/2013 screen options like this SITE.  (terrible!)   I installed Office/2013 as a part of our company's migration to Office/365 over this past weekend.   Users were coming from  Office/2007 and Office/2010.    The first and most constant complaint I get is the inability to modify the theme for the the benefit and comfort of the end user.    

The president of our company was the first to register a complaint about this.     We are a software development company and would NEVER have done this our customers.   

Microsoft needs to fix this ASAP.     If not we will be looking elsewhere for our cloud based email.    GOOGLE APPS will now get a look, where we would have never event considered going that route before now.

"It is the little foxes that destroy the vine......"

  • Edited by WarenMA Tuesday, October 15, 2013 2:05 PM
October 15th, 2013 2:04pm

Our fresh new look got a lot of positive feedback from usability testers and from customers in the field. However, after several months of broad use, it was clear that many customers are requesting a new, darker theme. This is one of our top feature requests, so were working to incorporate your feedback into future engineering plans. 


NO!!!! That is NOT WHAT WE WANT!!!

We do NOT want a darker, more depressing theme. That is absolutely NOT what we are saying. We want color. We want the ability to customize the colors as we choose for the windows. A color picker wheel would be ideal. We'd also like to adjust the massive amounts of wasted space that is shown as it's ridiculous.

Jennie, again, PLEASE DO NOT throw us another darker grey theme and call it good. That's is NOT what we want. If that is your current plan, then I'll tell you right now it's a complete and utter fail. I can't use Office 2013 because it gives me a headache and is very hard to read - not because I want an even darker theme to make it even harder to read.

Color, Jennie, color...that is what we want. We don't want any more vampires and Trent Reznor. This is the year 2013 - not 1913. Please. Good gravy, Jennie, PLEASE listen to us. We want Office to suck less - not more. We are on your side. Why don't you make Office look like Windows 8? Seriously, what possible reason can you come up with that would explain why Windows 8 is so rainbow colorful, yet Office 2013 has a soul-sucking black hole theme to it?Office 2013 looks TERRIBLE on Windows 8 because it has NO COLOR. Make it look the SAME and be a CUSTOMIZABLE as Windows 8 - please!!!!!!

Color and choice. That's what we want. Not just another life-sucking darker theme that completely clashes with your flagship OS.

  • Edited by ABCFED Tuesday, October 15, 2013 4:46 PM
Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
October 15th, 2013 4:29pm

I have read most of the comments and , while I do agree the options need to be there it isn't because I'm picky about colour - to be honest, less is better for me. I don't have a need for a ton of bright colours and animations taking away from the WORK I do. However, in my office we have upgraded and I have received complaints about the ACCESSIBILITY of the colour scheme. I have had people specifically tell me that it is difficult for them to read because the contrast is not high enough. THIS is the real issue.

We are unable to accommodate those with vision disabilities because there isn't the option to. People who are colour blind will also likely have an issue since the text isn't even black. 

Hoping this gets fixed soon so that we don't have any grievances filed against us for inaccessibility. 

  • Edited by akdubbs Thursday, October 17, 2013 8:21 PM
October 17th, 2013 8:20pm

Microsoft - I REALLY like the BLACK background option in office 2010 (outlook especially) - great on a multi monitor setup.

Fix this nightmare - I keep thinking I have beta code, as cannot believe madness let this be released!

  • Proposed as answer by ice cream Friday, October 25, 2013 11:11 PM
Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
October 25th, 2013 11:11pm

How true.

We will install Office 2010 under Office 365, because we would have a riot if we forced this on our employees.

The contrast in the UI is horrible, even on DARK GRAY (most people would call DARK GRAY, a light shade of GRAY).

Interesting, the discussion about how horrible the UI contrast is, has been going on since Office 2013 was in Beta.

  • Proposed as answer by Tony2310 Monday, November 11, 2013 1:58 AM
November 6th, 2013 5:46pm

Yep design of Office 2013 AND Office Web App is terrible... It's all white, flat and looks all the same. No colours. No contrast. All white hurts (white text on black background too btw). Whats wrong with MS? Make it customizable instead of going all white... and an afterthought of grey and grayer.

Also seems lots of people don't like the treaded view in Web App. Windows 8 GUI also is not good. Hidden features are silly. Putting a touch interface in your face while you use mouse & keyboard is bad too.

Once we had days that interface design was consistent and easy. You've got structured menu's, same colour scheme that you set centrally for all apps... And now? It's a mess. MS fix it... thank you

  • Proposed as answer by WhatsUpDok Thursday, December 19, 2013 8:08 AM
  • Unproposed as answer by WhatsUpDok Thursday, December 19, 2013 8:08 AM
Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
December 12th, 2013 11:20am

I think one of the aspects the Microsoft design team failed to realize is that users subconsciously distinguish between control areas in an application and the content/work area.

The contrast doesn't have to be hit-you-in-the-head obvious, but it is now so subtle, it is difficult to focus in on the content.  For example, Outlook looks like a vast empty plain of virtually indistinguishable text.

What puzzles me most, is that Microsoft appears to be very concerned about how new arrivals to the Windows/Office world can intuitively understand them, yet there are more areas than ever where there are hidden charms with no indication they are there, and controls with no on-screen text pop-up to explain their purpose. 

Case in point:  Outlook unread messages show a blue rectangle on the left edge - OK, they're differentiated.  When I put my mouse there, the rectangle gets bigger.  What does that mean?  Am I setting a category color of blue?  Making it even more unread than it already is?  Should I click it, drag it to the right or left? What will happen if I do?  Why isn't THAT displaying the context menu for actions I can take with the message?

To get work done, you have to turn into a xenoarchaeologist to hypothesize the possible functions of these alien control surfaces.

And let's not forget that like the general population, the workforce is aging.  What happens when older eyes look at these low-contrast graphics?

December 26th, 2013 4:24pm

After over a month of using Office 2013, I was tired of it. Inititially I thought it was a matter of time to get used to the changes, as it was with the ribbon. I liked the new features of Outlook 2013, SkyDrive, to just name one. However, working with the new Office 2013 is really strenuous and eye hurting. I asked IT for Office 2010 and I'm glad they had a spare installation available. When I opened Excel and Outlook 2010, I was amazed how great it looks.
  • Edited by matkes Tuesday, August 26, 2014 6:41 AM
Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
January 24th, 2014 1:03pm

I can't see the light gray right-click menu entries. How do I change this?

Also - the light grey font on this page is driving me nuts too. 

Do dark black fonts in the software and on this page cost more, like using more ink on printed paper?

Oh my . . .

  • Edited by Brcobrem Sunday, February 02, 2014 2:43 PM
February 2nd, 2014 2:40pm

Wish I'd done a bit more research before jumping to 2013 - I could probably have gone to 2010 instead.

Too late now.


And another question to the people at MS who will continue to ignore me:




OK - I get that you think that makes the interface cleaner and less distracting.  Others may disagree (I'm one).

But how does allowing me to have Proper Case, or all lower case, or even ThAt MaD aLtErNaTiNg one if that's what I want stop anybody else from having all caps, or force them to have the same as me?


It doesn't.


It's all about choice.


Sure - I can choose to rename the tabs, and put a space in before or after the text to keep the case I want.


But not with FILE or ADD-INS - for some reason you think you know better than I do, and that really I don't want to rename those, despite me thinking I do.


Why is that, I wonder?   More arrogance, perhaps?

Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
February 5th, 2014 1:18pm

>"Responses to this thread are now restricted to those innovative or experienced >enough to figure out how to work around Microsoft's ridiculous forum design that >causes the Javascript to thrash on long threads..."

Yep. That's why I use Safari on my Mac. Works great every single time. IE continually has problems with the MS forums.

>There can be NO explanation for the ridiculous downslide in >usability of all the Microsoft products these past few years (not >to mention the fact that there has been no real advancement in >actual functionality) other than this is what they choose to >push upon us.

Agreed. Again, I went out and bought a Mac because of all of this. Best decision I ever made. Thanks Microsoft!

  • Edited by ABCFED Wednesday, February 05, 2014 4:25 PM
February 5th, 2014 4:24pm

This is the worst user interface I've used in decades.  Another indicator of how MS needs new leadership.

I can't believe any usability/testing or any fragment of Human Interface Design was considered during it's development.

Awful.  Just plain awful.  I have a headache 2 hours into every day, and that's just from Outlook!

I remember my Etch-A-Sketch as a kid having better contrast.
  • Edited by TLarry Monday, February 10, 2014 5:51 PM
Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
February 10th, 2014 5:50pm

That was too funnyI to was looking for something to change this North Pole color its ridiculous. It reminds me of a sheet of paper. Is this really Office 2013 or Office in the Book of Eli. I think you said it righta storm trooper back drop that only Vader could love. Where is Obie I think he is the only hope in changing this pasty look.  

  • Edited by KaWalka Wednesday, February 19, 2014 6:44 PM
February 19th, 2014 6:37pm

"I cannot believe this discussion has been RAGING since late 2012 and NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE. "

Believe it - and by the way - welcome to the "new" Microsoft. Hope you enjoy the ride.

You'll never get a proper response to this thread - ever. You might have someone not related to the Office team chime in every year or so and say "they are listening" and "feedback" this and "all our study groups love it" that, but that's just BS drivel - they don't really mean it, nobody is really listening, and nobody on the Office team ever reads or responds to these posts. Nothing changes.

It's pathetic. I'm so glad Steve B got canned and Sinofsky should be flogged. Here's hoping the new CEO fires these no-good Office managers who caused this mess, but I'm putting very little faith in that too. I think it boils down to the new philosophy of "you get what you get - and don't throw a fit". They are going to shove this crap down our throats and that's the end of it. If we don't like it we're going to have to take our toys, go home, and play in another sandbox. Don't feel bad - Microsoft's sandbox is just full of cat poo nowadays anyway and stinks. Much better to play in Apple, Google, Libres, and other sandboxes if you want to actually not be covered in the feces that is Office 2013.

It's sad. I used to love Microsoft. Now, I can't stand them.
  • Edited by ABCFED Thursday, March 13, 2014 12:08 AM
Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
March 13th, 2014 12:02am

It is not possible that Microsoft tested this monstrosity with any group of users that have to work on a computer day in and day out, five days a week. I can say with complete certainty that my organization of 16,000 people will NOT be upgrading to 2013. Ever. We'll ride 2010 until it dies and then look for another productivity suite that actually enhances productivity. If Microsoft has developed one by then, they may see money from us again. If they continue trying to push tablet technology on business people who work primarily on desktops, then emphatically not.

I've read many, many comments about 2013 by now because when I first installed it to begin planning to train our users on it, I couldn't believe how bad it was. Both visually and in terms of productivity. The expectations for a student or home user of Microsoft Office are very, very different than the expectations of a business. Students and home users have the luxury of time to adapt to new software. They haven't invested literal years, decades, in mastering the previous iterations. They're more mobile than business users and more likely to access their documents on multiple platforms. Their needs are NOT the needs of the business community.

Every time Microsoft changes the UI, that costs lost productivity while everyone in the organization re-learns where things are. Which is why you don't change things for the sake of changing them, or move them unless there is a very clear, compelling reason to do so. Every time we have to retrain our people, or they have to Google how to perform a function they used to do with a keystroke, that costs us money. That is a LOSS to our organization. It creates unnecessary stress for our workers. Business users who have been working with Office for decades have the right to expect that their software won't be an actual impediment to their doing work. 

Do you know why there was such resistance to the ribbon? It's not because people were old fuddy-duddies who hate change. It's that what used to be accessible with one click now took three. The ribbon meant instead of clicking one icon on an admittedly very busy menu, now it took two, or even three clicks--assuming we remembered perfectly where a particular function was. The "smoother, cleaner interface" that's so lovely for tablet and smartphone users is HORRIBLE for productivity because Microsoft keeps adding more clicks to every task. Count the number of clicks a user had to perform with 2003 versus the number of clicks for 2013. That click counter keeps edging higher. Productivity is my business. I get paid to notice these things. The operations with a forty thousand line spreadsheet that took fifteen minutes in 2003 take twenty minutes in 2014. You can call us dinosaurs all you want, the numbers do not lie. That's three tasks accomplished per hour rather than four, 24 rather than 32 per day, for ONE user. This is not one problem child user. This is all of them.

Consistency has been another casualty of that "smoother, cleaner" tablet-friendly interface. I opened Excel 2013 just now. When I right-click in a cell, I get a text "paste special" option. When I open up Word 2013 and right click, there is no text that says "paste special." Just an icon. Which, based on 2010 and 2007, MIGHT open up a menu, or it might paste some unpredictable portion, unformatted text, formatted text, or maybe HTML, of the thing I copied.

That means I have to stop what I'm doing and LOOK at the menu. Paste special is no longer a thoughtless operation for me. NOTHING in Microsoft Office is a thoughtless operation anymore. The menu changes from Word to Excel to PowerPoint, the ribbon changes depending on screen resolution, so there is no way to develop that muscle memory users used to have in 2003. Even better, with this new "clean" and COLORLESS interface, I have to stop and figure out what application I'm in to guess where the function might be. The mental process is, "wait, where did the paste spec--oh, I'm in Word, not Excel, I have to go up and click the paste special icon on the ribbon to find my "paste special" text." This is just ONE function. Almost every single function in these programs varies in placement and presentation from 2007 to 2010 to 2013 and then varies further from Word to Excel to PowerPoint. I occasionally conduct training sessions for new employees and have to tell them, as I demonstrate a process on an overhead projector, that my screen might not look like their screen due to the differences in resolution. They will have to hunt for the icon I clicked, which might have gotten smaller and compressed or even have lost text, forcing them to hover over the icons to see which is which. I say again, there is no POSSIBLE way that Microsoft is talking about these changes with actual business users. Actual business users would have screamed bloody murder.

Expecting companies to keep retraining their users, expecting long time users to constantly have to re-find the functions they knew perfectly again and again every few years is ludicrous. Making me tell a user running the same software sitting five feet from me that his "ribbon" may not look like mine is insanity. It used to take two hours to get a group of new users up and running with Excel. It now takes four, almost solely from running back and forth to point out the picture, or icon, OR text--you never know which!--corresponds to the one I clicked.

Office 2013 takes the existing productivity issues of 2007 and 2010 and makes them even worse. Others have already mentioned the difficulty in telling which window is the active window. Anyone who tells a productivity expert to request all the users in their organization go customize the tools panel of every Office product they use should be dragged out into the street and shot. A productivity suite that has to be extensively tweaked and customized by the end user to allow them to be productive? Who on earth imagined that would be acceptable? A productivity suite once that once was the standard among businesses because it could be mastered and because functions WERE standard has been redesigned to appeal to the people who are by definition amateur, and Microsoft wonders at the furious reaction? How about making your productivity suite productive? If you design for amateurs, your customer base will BE amateurs. And amateur users are a fickle bunch.

  • Edited by Morrighan Wednesday, July 30, 2014 2:23 AM
July 30th, 2014 2:17am

Have you guys tried the window 7 black theme with high contrast, it makes office black, I love it, all black and yellow/green fonts, easier on your eyes,  less energy, the only thing its that you can't see the colours in excel, I mean you can't highlight a cell, its just all black, 

Can everybody customize themes so they apply to office too?

Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
August 22nd, 2014 6:13pm

Putting emotions aside.. Microsoft probably decided on an architecture change in order to comply with the mobile devices and other touch screen gadgets.

Microsoft should have created another version of Office 2013 for the users of these devices. Office Plus is meant for Business Users (read: desktop/laptop users) and should have maintain the status quo with Office 2013 least in terms of GUI enhancements.   

  • Proposed as answer by Philomatix Saturday, August 30, 2014 4:09 AM
  • Unproposed as answer by Philomatix Saturday, August 30, 2014 4:09 AM
August 28th, 2014 9:52am

Having used Microsoft products since the days of Dos 5 and Windows 3 and used every Office version that appeared since its first appearance and even have done microsoft certification courses and passed them. I can say with the type of unresponsive arrogance that those in charge in the Company itself, Microsoft who don't seem to respond or seem to care about its consumers in large the only real answer is to hope they get retrenched, downsized or plain fired like the thousands that lost their jobs recently in the Nokia fiasco. the only real answer to consumer problems and its related technical problems is a shakeup in the corporate culture, until it wakes up to consumer preferences and real solutions.
  • Edited by Philomatix Saturday, August 30, 2014 4:18 AM
Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
August 30th, 2014 4:18am

I couldn't agree more. We have around 500 users, with about 54 at my site and they are all voicing their concerns over potential eye strain and migraine headaches. I have several users who get Migraines. If I would have known just how different Office 2013 was from 2007, which we were using, I would have fought to keep using 2007 or at least maybe upgraded to 2010. But, we (all sites) have to be consistent and we all had to upgrade, with my site almost there.

I feel bad, I can't give my users any other color options and how they have to live with the new look that is just so dull and depressing.

I also have a big gripe and maybe one of the 400 plus posts on this forum already mentioned it, but I miss the ability to open multiple documents in the same, current Word session window. One department does a lot of mail merge letters and are constantly generating multiple letters and they all open in a new window. This clutters their screen and blocks other application windows where they need to get information from to enter into the letters. There are also multiple windows that open and close during the merge process, run be scripts, that now give off a flashing effect with them opening in separate windows and closing so fast. I know I can probably go into the code and hide all the background windows that are opening, but every time you modify code, you risk breaking something else.

I can't believe after all this time, Microsoft is not responding.

I think I just installed Service Pack 1 the other day, hopeful that they would have addressed some of these issues, but alas no. I didn't notice anything different. 

September 13th, 2014 1:52am

quotes from Pianoman_coa2

I couldn't agree more. We have around 500 users, with about 54 at my site and they are all voicing their concerns over potential eye strain and migraine headaches. I have several users who get Migraines. If I would have known just how different Office 2013 was from 2007, which we were using,
I feel bad, I can't give my users any other color options and how they have to live with the new look that is just so dull and depressing.

I also have a big gripe
... I miss the ability to open multiple documents in the same, current Word session window.
... There are also multiple windows that open and close during the merge process, run be scripts, that now give off a flashing effect with them opening in separate windows and closing so fast. I know I can probably go into the code and hide all the background windows that are opening, but every time you modify code, you risk breaking something else.
... I think I just installed Service Pack 1 the other day, hopeful that they would have addressed some of these issues, but alas no. I didn't notice anything different. 

I agree this version's lack of contrast is a big problem, especially for people with migraines. 
Pianoman_coa2, for you, I wonder what options are available to decrease the flashing while running scripts. I know turning off animation of windows has helped for other similar things when I had users like yours.

The reason I upgraded to Office 2013 was specifically because it finally provided an option for separate sessions for Excel, without opening other instances with the "read-only" warnings.

As a developer, color was usually an easy fix--if management agreed it was of importance. A lot of Microsoft's teams just lost half their members, so it's probably up to us to work together for a workaround. 
Since I can't change my monitor without losing all I did to get its color to match my printer, I'll be looking for other options.
Anyone got an idea for an ap?  

  • Edited by Brewer.D Monday, October 27, 2014 12:00 AM
Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
October 26th, 2014 11:59pm

The irony here is that the forum you are reading is in white and light gray and nobody seems to mind. 
  • Proposed as answer by Juliebugg5 Sunday, November 09, 2014 3:07 PM
  • Unproposed as answer by Juliebugg5 Sunday, November 09, 2014 3:07 PM
November 7th, 2014 10:07am

I'm holding out hope that Stardock will swoop in and rescue us again like they did when 'Start8' allowed us to circumvent the Metro Start Screen, returning to the classic Start button. I agree with David Lee EMT that the functionality of 2013 is quite wonderful. The drab environment however is reminiscent of a Pyongyang skyline.
  • Edited by CPLWeeks Wednesday, November 26, 2014 12:56 AM
Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
November 26th, 2014 12:40am

The Themes of office 2013 just plain suck!  At the end of any given business day my eyes are red & strained from the flatness or lack of contrast in Office 2013, why does MS ALWAYS screw the pooch when advancing a product? Customer satisfaction will force changes to the upgraded office suite but the bigger question should be how do you roll a product such as this without input from those who live it everyday.  Bring back XP it rocked!!!  


Quite honestly it is because MS thinks they have some "right" to TELL us what to do with our own computers!! Frankly I am sick & tired of MS and their heavy handed tactics of trying to FORCE us into something we don't want! They have this certain view of how they THINK the world of computers should look and they will do anything they possibly can to FORCE that view on the entire world!

Sadly, they have not cared what their customers think for at least a few years, if not longer.

The only thing they are going to listen to is if we all stand together and flat out REFUSE to buy any of their new products. We can no longer afford to "give in" and go with the flow...we must stand FIRM as a UNITED front and tank their revenue as close to ZERO as we can possibly get it! If we do that, then they will finally listen!

And I am questioning that customer satisfaction (really the lack of) will compel them to do the right thing on least as far as Office 2013 goes. MAYBE they will back off on SOME of this for Office 2016. This is going on 2 YEARS now and they have done NOTHING to reverse this! And look at how pissed off the majority of users were about Windows 8 (Metro)...But even after they kicked Balmer out they only partially reversed the mess with Windows 8.1...For me it is nowhere near far enough. If the next major version of Windows does not look more like Windows 7 than Windows 8 I will have to seriously consider biting the bullet and ditching MS altogether.


  • Edited by AllenM1 Tuesday, December 02, 2014 3:47 AM correct typo
December 2nd, 2014 3:41am

Hello Everyone,

What is obvious to me at this point is that MS simply does NOT care one iota what their paying & loyal customers think. This has to be obvious to us when this has been going on for TWO years with absolutely NOTHING changing.

I made the mistake of not researching Office 2013 before I purchased because honestly this is the first time I've actually been disappointed like this and I've had every version of Office since the mid 90's!

Be that as it may please be aware of the following for anyone who can benefit from this.

MS DOES offer a 30 day warranty during which time you CAN return the product for a refund. And YES this applies to downloaded (electronic) purchases too. See the following link:

The following link gives more information on initiating the request for return:

The following link has the phone number you can call which I found to be quicker:

They will ask some questions to verify purchase and if w/in the 30 days. After a 15 minute phone call they had initiated my refund which they said will take 5-7 business days to hit my Credit Card.

Mainly you just have to electronically sign an agreement to uninstall and delete your previously downloaded Office 2013.

I would encourage EVERYONE who is w/in 30 days and is as upset as all of us appear to be to initiate your refund request.

Maybe, just maybe if enough people take that step MS will FINALLY listen to us and do something about this disaster called Office 2013.


P.S. DO BE AWARE however of one more thing. After I uninstalled Office 2013 it borked my licensed installation of Office 2010. Fortunately doing a REPAIR option from Control Panel -> Uninstall program was able to fix it, after a restart following this. At worse I could envision in some cases you might have to reinstall your previous version of Office to get it fully functional again. As a precaution and as always just have backups of your data stored elsewhere.
  • Edited by AllenM1 Wednesday, December 03, 2014 4:14 AM add something I forgot
Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
December 3rd, 2014 4:06am

I keep Googling hoping that somebody has come up with a hack to fix this abomination.  It is sad that people had have to resort to wasting time hacking Office dll's to fix a problem that so many users hate and Microsoft could most likely easily fix with an update to turn a few color knobs back on.   So many of us are so utterly disgusted with how Microsoft has ignored this issue.  I hate using Office 2013....  Hate it...  Due to the washed out eye-strain blandness. And the hours I have wasted trying to find some combo that provides relief but nothing is acceptable it.  Especially Outlook which is the worst to use.  Oh.. if only there were something else to switch to on our corporate networks, which my company has standardized on now...  But there in lies the problem and Microsoft knows it.  Their early platitudes and more recent silence on this issue is the same as them shouting "we don't care" from a megaphone.    

Update...  It is clear that Microsoft does not intend to "fix" this issue  so I uninstalled Office 2013 and reverted to Office 2010.   The bland interface with 2013 was such a huge step backwards.  It all my years in IT, I have experienced few situations more frustrating and nonsensical than this blunder by Microsoft, made worse by their silence and refusal to fix it.  

January 27th, 2015 8:30pm

Dear SAS71,

I'm gonna go totally off-Course here.. If you ever happened to write a Book or a Blog, do drop me the link.

The above few lines were so vivid, my imagination is all fired up!!

Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
March 23rd, 2015 8:28am

Yeah - can't see the difference in any windows - active or not - and the layout is very retro groovy. I don't want retro groovy in my spreadsheets. I'm going back to 2010.
March 24th, 2015 4:08pm

Count me as another that hates the fact that Microsoft is giving us this flat design and no ability to recolor. I need more distinction between active and inactive windows on my screen. This is terrible.
Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
March 30th, 2015 3:49pm

The sad thing is that the dark gray theme which is supposed to have the highest contrast makes some things even worse. Have you ever tried dragging an Email in Outlook to a personal folder with that theme? The drop folder coloring is like 'something between light gray and light blue on light gray background'.

Unfortunately, I cannot just change to a different version or product as I have to stick to the company's policies. So what I am doing is to use other products wherever it is possible, and then just copy paste into what I fondly call 'Unseen Office' meanwhile, before I distribute it.

April 15th, 2015 4:50am

Anyone else here subscribe to Office 365 thinking, well, they'll fix it up soon enough, ship out a new version, and I won't have to pay for an upgrade?

Yet here we are more than a year later working with the same old Office in Stormtrooper Light Gray still.


Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
April 16th, 2015 1:46am

They weren't thinking! I don't know what group of idiots designed Windows 8/8.1/10 and Office 2013 but they should all be fired! I feel like I stepped back in time to the 90s and some kids designed the graphics!

April 17th, 2015 7:06am

Pretty much saying we're screwed and like it or leave it.. well I'm serious considering LEAVING Microsoft for either MAC (shiver) or more likely Linux! Apparently someone doesn't know the old adage "The CUSTOMER is ALWAYS RIGHT!"
Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
April 17th, 2015 7:10am

I hope MS product development is reading this and ACTING to fix soon. If I have to guess, the design was driven by performance on multi platforms. That is fine, but users should have the option to select a more readable theme as in 2010.

April 17th, 2015 3:17pm

It has to be assumed that after all this time, Microsoft have decided that in this instance and possibly others the customer is wrong, and are not going to change anything in Office 2013. What worries me is that this also comes under the banner of Office 365. Will there be an Office 2015 or 2016, or will they just update 365. If the latter I guess they will never change the look and feel. Even the dark grey is quite a light grey, and where are the coloured icons etc? 

What on earth was wrong with 2010?

Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
April 27th, 2015 7:03am

What on earth was wrong with 2010?

It seems to me all these things Microsoft are doing lately fall under the category of "it has to be different so we can make more money".  Think of everything they're doing in terms of "surviving success" and it all starts to make more sense.

If Microsoft made the penultimate operating system and the penultimate Office package, and these things did ALL you could foreseeably need (imagining for example, Win 7 and Office 2010), what then?  How do they make more money?

1.  By introducing subscriptions.  Everyone imagines that they'll actually continue improving the product in order to support being paid over and over.  Apparently they don't have to do very much, because people are still paying.

2.  By undoing virtually all the goodness, have everyone suffering through the regression, then rolling out minor improvement after minor improvement without actually having to do much of any more work.  The trick is to do this without driving everyone away, which isn't particularly hard since there's no competition.

Think about it.


April 27th, 2015 1:16pm

I Got 365 with the package for my surface pro 3. Installed it on my desktop, since I get 2 installations. I have been using for a week, and frankly, it is a step backward. Across all the applications, things are more difficult to see, and the theme and other options are inadequate.

I am taking this off my desktop and re-installing 2010. Boy am I glad I only wasted my money on a one year subscription instead of the full purchase of 2013.

I have had every version of the Office product and this by far is the most disappointing. And why has Microsoft not made more themes  or customization available? Maybe so they can say: "New and improved display options" in their next release. Well I can't wait and I will be very wary about renewing or purchasing Office in the future. 

Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
April 30th, 2015 11:41am

I don't care if it by design or what. I hate it!  Too dam busy and really bothers my eyes and concentration!
June 10th, 2015 6:28pm

I totally agree!  My eyes burn and are strained more even with my glasses on!  I really hope whoever dreamed this up dreams up something more user friendly!!!

Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
June 10th, 2015 6:30pm

PLEASE take our word as we have stated.  It causes eye strain.  And way too busy.  I wonder if they are not wanting to force us to purchase another year!!!

June 10th, 2015 6:31pm

I just changed to no background color and now the busy ugly designs do not appear. It is dark grey as well.  Did this as suggested, through File- Accounts.  However, still too light for my eyes.  But better than it was.

Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
June 10th, 2015 6:44pm

...changed to no background color ... through File- Accounts ...


Are you speaking of having changed it to the Dark Gray theme via the Options settings?

Apparently my definition of "Dark" and Microsoft's differ.

So far I think I've liked the look of Office 2003 the best.


June 11th, 2015 11:24am

This is typical of MicroShaft...removing great features from products and not listening to its customers. We could all go on and on about this.
Free Windows Admin Tool Kit Click here and download it now
July 2nd, 2015 7:26am

Totally agree. I uninstalled it too. This is typical of Microshaft--do totally asinine stuff and totally ignore the customers, go backwards, not forward, etc. Notice this thread has been running for THREE YEARS and MICROSHAFT has done NOTHING. Too bad they have such a monopoly on things.
July 31st, 2015 1:25pm

This topic is archived. No further replies will be accepted.

Other recent topics Other recent topics