Microsoft Releases Office 2016

Office 2016 is the latest version of the ever-popular Microsoft Office suite.

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Microsoft released its new Office 2016 worldwide Tuesday.

A new feature, known as Clutter, is essentially a low-priority smart email filter. If you don’t like the look, tap the Remix button to try a different look. The relationship also affords Microsoft more predictability in its sales by locking users into monthly or annual agreements.

Most of all, Office 2016 is optimized for Windows 10 and works with Microsoft’s new “Continuum” mode that lets Windows 10 phones act as desktop PCs. With more programs and more features than nearly anyone, the new Office could still take some effort.

As far as the core Office experience goes, that’s about it. Office 2016 is a very marginal improvement on Office 2013. Needless to say, it’s about time. Using Skype for Business (formerly Lync), you can initiate chat sessions, audio calls, and video calls with colleagues within Office apps.

Communication via Skype is also built-in, he said.

But with that choice comes the subscription model, which won’t be to everyone’s taste.

“For Office, we serve such a broad customer base, I don’t know if one size fits all”, Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela said in an interview.

If collaboration is the biggest theme in Office 2016, then “improved search” is surely the runner-up.

This was followed by versions for iPhone, Android tablets and phones, and Office mobile apps for Windows 10, all of which have similar features and, we are told, are built from the same code base.

“Interestingly, feedback from users is that they preferred MS-Office but their company IT team preferred Google”.

There are plenty of other features, like Smart Lookup in PowerPoint and brand new charts in Excel. It’s certainly far more useful than the old “Help Menu”, that’s for sure.

Unlike traditional help screens, which lead to instructions, the “Tell me…” box leads to commands, hopefully including the one you’re looking for. “We want to get work done”, Mital says.

If you want to get the new Office 2016, you have several options.

Office 2016 also adds more information rights management capabilities, to provide greater control over who has the rights to copy, print or forward documents from within Outlook. If you’re not participating or getting your work done, there is no hiding. But to share these files, you’ll need to host them in OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage service. Next, there’s a window where you can type a message – effectively an email – to the person with whom you’re sharing the file. Microsoft promises later this year it will enable Enterprise Data Protection, which will allow sharing of secure corporate content across apps and cloud locations. Micromanagers might like this feature the most.

Excel also received a few minor updates. Excel 2016, for example, now has modern chart types to make the most of your data and integrated publishing to Power BI. Right now you should make your choice to switch based on whether or not you really want the new features. It taps into Bing’s Insight Engine to show you the accurate information in a right-hand pane.

It’s that last part that’s particularly compelling to me. In situations like that, Planner would seem to have a leg up; it’s easier to understand at a glance where the bottleneck is.

Working in group conversation threads could keep Outlook pretty streamlined, but it may not cut down on the number of emails you get each day, especially from those outside your workgroups.

Then, you invite others to work with you. Interestingly, though, Delve doesn’t now share data from the Edge browser to learn about what you’re interested in.

But a bunch of other apps will have limited, but functional, GigJam integration. Pure text files get a nice treatment, but make little sense as a presentation on Sway. In any case, Sway is already out of preview and hasn’t seen any changes in the final Office 2016 release. But it’s important to think of Office holistically, because Office 2016 is only part-yes, a big part-of the story. Consumer and small-business subscribers will begin receiving automatic updates starting next month, and commercial customers will receive them starting next year. In fact, one of the first examples of that is the work Salesforce is doing to integrate its ecosystem of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications with Microsoft Office 2016. In addition, Microsoft will let users buy a standalone retail version of the product without paying an ongoing fee.

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[Image credits: All screenshots courtesy of Microsoft; lead and closing images: Dana Wollman/Engadget.].

Microsoft releases Office 2016 What’s new and how much does it cost