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Categories: Office 365;SharePoint

​The term Software as a Service (SaaS) means that software is not installed locally anymore. Instead, software is installed to the cloud (like Windows Azure) and made available through the internet. One prominent example of this new approach is Office 365. Software as a Service does not only have advantages for the users as consumers of the software but also for the service providers – like Microsoft as the service provider for Office 365.

Because Office 365 is provided as cloud software, Microsoft can publish updates very easily in a centralized manner, and one of the recent updates caught my attraction. I'm talking about the new look for lists and libraries.

The following screenshot shows this new look and feel:


The above screenshot shows a document library with the new look and feel which Microsoft is referring to as New Experience – in contrast to the Classic Experience.

The following screenshot shows the same document library, but with the Classic Experience.


I think the New Experience looks very tidy and less cluttered. It helps users to focus on the documents and list items and does not sidetrack users by showing too many available actions that can be triggered.

With the New Experience, the items which are shown in the gear menu changed as well. As you can see in the following screenshot, the library settings are also shown in this menu now. Compared to the gear menu which is shown in the Classic Experience, the new gear menu is less extensive and focuses on the actions that are most important for users.


To switch between the Classic Experience and the New Experience, users have several options. If the New Experience is active, users can click on the link Return to classic SharePoint which is shown in the lower left corner (see first screenshot). If a user clicks on this link, the Classic Experience becomes active immediately. If the default experience is set to New Experience, the new look becomes active again the next time the user opens a browser and navigates to that library.

For each library, site-owners can choose which look to use as a default by navigating to the Advanced Settings of a list or a library.


Here a site-owner can select whether to use the Classic Experience or the New Experienced for a library or list.

To ensure a consistent look and feel of a whole SharePoint farm, a SharePoint administrator can provide a primary setting. This is done in the SharePoint administration of Office 365. 


Sometimes the switching between the Classic Experience and the New Experience does not work properly. In those cases, I was able to reactivate the New Experience by closing the browser and reopening the browser again. It looks like the information with experience to use is saved to session state objects.

Besides the new look and feel of the New Experience, there is another cool new feature: documents can also be displayed as tiles with a small preview image just like images with previews in image galleries.


Sometimes it can be helpful for users to pin important documents to the top of a SharePoint library – just like important threads in discussions or forums. By using the New Experience, this can be done with SharePoint documents as well. A maximum of three documents can be pinned to the top area.


The New Experience is offering an improved version of in-place-editing called the Details Pane. To activate the Details Pane you simply need to select a document or a list item, open its context menu and select Details. With the new Details Pane, users can edit metadata of documents or list items without changing the current view.

The following screenshot shows the Details Pane:


Accessing data on mobile devices has become a mandatory request of enterprises. To meet these requirements, the New Experience is also providing a great mobile view. The following screenshots were taken on a Windows 10 smartphone to show how the New Experience looks like on a mobile device.


Currently, Microsoft is rolling out the New Experience feature to more and more tenants and for some time both experiences will be available. But, you should keep in mind that the Classic Experience might not last for long.


Do you like the New Experience look? Let us know what you think.