Microsoft Office 2016 is now available and it is bringing real-time collaboration, improved Skype integration and quick access to many options to the suite that includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
The updates are behind the scenes but they are very real nevertheless. It’s not about new icons or fancier menus with Office 2016, in many ways 2016 looks almost indistinguishable from 2013.
The updates includes a Groups feature in Outlook for a corporate team or even just a group of friends planning a trip to manage messages and documents. Word lets two people work on a document and see each other’s changes in real-time. Skype video calls can sit comfortably on top of the document during editing.
A user must learn to save files to OneDrive or Sharepoint, and switch between browser apps and the traditional desktop programs. New tools like Sway and Planner, are ways to make instant PowerPoint presentations, and manage projects.
Recently Microsoft has made Office programs compatible with more Apple and Android devices.
With Office 365, a service that starts at $7 a month and includes online versions of the apps, users get monthly updates: New Excel chart types, new co-working tools, more tie-ins with the Cortana virtual assistant app and other enhancements based on user feedback.
Microsoft has successfully persuaded 15 million consumers and 4 of 5 Fortune 500 companies to subscribe to it’s new “software as a service” model.
Office 2016 requires Windows 7 or newer, and it’s free to new and existing Office 365 subscribers. Office also includes note-taking program OneNote.
Old-school, buy-it-once versions are still available for $149 for Windows and Mac (a $229 business option includes Outlook). These non-subscription copies get security updates, but they’re locked in to the Sept. 22 version on the feature side. They will not have the Publisher or Access programs either.
New items include several “intelligent” tools. Outlook will try to determine how you manage your inbox and automatically organize it for you. A new search box called Tell Me on PowerPoint, Word and Excel lets you search for a feature — say “Columns” — and immediately pull up the relevant menu. That saves you from reading through a help article or digging around menus. When not connected to the Internet, some features will automatically turn off while the document remains accessible.