It has been several years since the last version of Microsoft Office was released. Well, the wait was definitely worth it as Office 2016 is here and the updates are more than welcome. Microsoft Office 2016 is part of the Office 365 subscription-based service. It will roll out to subscribers soon but can be purchased separately now.
At a private launch event in San Francisco, I was able to meet with some of the Microsoft team. Several stations were set up so that attendees could have the software demonstrated for various circumstances (contractors, enterprise, student, and home office). The new features are mainly collaborative. The aim is to “take the work out of working together.” To take use these, though, both or all parties must be using Office 2016.
I have used programs like Word, Excel, and Powerpoint for years but never really turned to Microsoft as a full document solution. With the new features and an introduction to the digital storytelling app Sway, this event really changed my view of the the Microsoft suit. It was as if I was starting over and totally re-acquainting myself with the brand.
Microsoft Office 2016 New Features
The new, modern design is fresh and easy on the eyes. Munchkin immediately noticed the difference when she opened Word on her computer (we upgraded it the day before). Text is easy to read, graphics are clear and easily understood, and navigation between menu items is fast and seamless. Below is a summary of the other new features.
Invite others to edit or review your Word, PowerPoint, or Excel file. You can easily see who has access to the file and if they are currently working on it or not. Send an instant message or call your colleague via Skype if needed.
For Word, PowerPoint, and OneNote documents saved to OneDrive, colleagues can simultaneously edit them. There is an extra option in Word to take advantage of real-time typing. This allows you to see what your team member is typing in the documents or any changes they are making. Just look for the colored flag with their name on it.
Recent Documents and Cloud Attachments
Don’t you hate having to search for your files when sending an attachment in your email? Now Outlook 2016 will list your recent documents first, making your job that much easier. For files stored in OneDrive, you can even set the permission to edit or view only. Outlook will also learn from your viewing habits and sort emails into high and low priority mailboxes. This cuts down on clutter and streamlines your inbox so you know which to answer ASAP and which ones can be dealt with later on.
To help in creating PowerPoint presentations, use Smart Lookup. This tool is powered by Bing and will bring up sample presentations based on your search query.
Tell Me is basically the user-friendly version of the help section. Just type in what you’re looking for and the command will pop right up for you. I absolutely love this for Excel since I can never remember certain functions such as how to freeze that top row. Just type in “freeze top row” and the answer I need pops right up.
Excel is already indispensable for inputting data into a database or spreadsheet. Now that data can be used to automatically popular a chart. That chart can, in turn, be placed right in your Excel document for a more visual way of displaying information. Any changes you make to the data will be instantly reflected in the chart. Six chart types are available.
While not a brand new app in general, Sway was new to me. I was surprised to see just how versatile this tool is. You can add in photos, slideshows, video, and more. Plus, the layout is so open-ended that you can really customize who you want your story to be viewed. I still have A LOT to learn about this app but it would be fantastic to journal trips or for my daughter’s school reports.
The preview version was being passionately demonstrated by the concept founder. This new app will be available as part of Office 2016 and will change the way you get things done. It’s hard to describe you’ll love it when it’s available publicly.
For those that use Office 2016 in the Enterprise setting, Groups and the Office 365 planner hub would be useful. With Groups, emails from your team are organized as an easily referenced conversation. Office 365 allows you to assign tasks and track the progress of each.
Getting Microsoft Office 2016
As you can see, Microsoft Office 2016 is shaping up to be a fantastic update. The above features were just a few highlighted during the event and I’m sure only the basics were covered. Personally, I’ve only had the opportunity to try out the new Office while typing up this post originally in Word. I have a lot more testing to do as well as learning since the entire look is different. I am loving all of the tools to collaborate on documents so far and can’t wait to dive into the other features.
I was invited to the media launch event and was provided with a complimentary code to use this service for one year. All opinions are my own.