Today Microsoft is launching a pretty important set of products. Office 2016 is now available worldwide, and marks the first major update to the suite since Office 2013 was released in January of 2013. While many people think Microsoft and Windows are synonymous, Office has consistently been a bigger chunk of their revenues for quite some time, so any time there is an update to this suite it is a pretty big deal for the company. Microsoft is pushing this strongly now through their Office 365 subscription model, whether for home or commercial use, but the one-time purchase model is still around for those that prefer to buy it outright. The Mac version of Office 2016 was released earlier this year, but just for Office 365 customers. That suite is now also able to be purchased standalone as of today.

Every time a new Office suite is released, I always wonder what else they need to add to Office, but time and time again there always seems to be something that improves my workflow. The 2016 version finally gains a pretty nice new feature, which is real-time collaboration. This has long been a staple of Google Docs and even Microsoft has offered it in the web based version of Office since 2013, but it has been absent from the desktop version. This is a much requested feature and it will be used quite a bit I think. Co-authoring will first be available in Word, and will be coming to the other applications in the future.

Not too long ago, Microsoft rebranded their Lync client to Skype for Business, and this is now integrated right into the Office suite as well. This will allow you to chat right inside of Word, possibly as you are co-authoring a document with someone. It also allows screen sharing and the ability to launch a meeting from right within the Office apps.

Also new are Office 365 Groups, which is part of Outlook 2016 and also available on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. Groups allows you to create shared inboxes and calendars along with dedicated cloud storage for the group in order to assist with collaboration.

People subscribed to Office 365 Business will be glad to hear that Microsoft will be updating the OneDrive for Business sync client later this month, which will FINALLY offer selective sync for Windows and Mac, and they are claiming there is improved reliability as well but that will be something that I think users of OneDrive for Business will want to see for themselves.

On the business side, Office 2016 will be gaining a lot of enterprise features to help protect data including built-in Data Loss Prevention which will “significantly reduce the risk of leaking sensitive data by giving IT admins tools to centrally create, manage and enforce policies for content authoring and document sharing” and later this year Windows 10 will enable Enterprise Data Protection. This prevents sharing of data outside the company that is deemed to be restricted.

Office 2016 for Mac finally looks and feels like the PC version

Overall, there are a lot of changes to Office 2016. Likely more than you would think considering Office has been around for so long, and is certainly a mature toolset. But the addition of real-time co-authoring brings one of the nicest features of web based suites to the desktop client. Going forward, Office on Windows will have its update cadence increased to more closely match what they are doing with the mobile and web apps. This should mean new features and updates come a long much quicker.

For those that want to upgrade, Office 365 Home users can do that here, Office 365 Business can do it here, and for more information please check out

Source: Office Blog


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  • Gigaplex - Tuesday, September 22, 2015 - link

    Why would you want the chat client integrated into Word itself?
  • Terry Suave - Tuesday, September 22, 2015 - link

    Actually, this is a pretty nice addition. I know of several accounting teams often within just one workplace who are constantly using a separate IM service to keep in contact. For Word, it may not be so important, but for Excel it will be huge in these circles.
  • Freakie - Tuesday, September 22, 2015 - link

    Like they say, for collaboration. Just about every student has co-authored projects that they work on together, and anyone will tell you that getting every group member to meet face to face is damn near impossible. If everyone has O365 (as students get it free) then everyone can do a virtual meeting without having everyone need the same chat software and the same collaboration tools. If you're making your project with a Microsoft product, then you can collaborate, no additional setup required.

    Of course this isn't limited to just students, and many others collaborate on projects together in the workplace and having a virtual meeting tool built-in will help with that. And having co-authoring built-in as well obviously piggy backs on this. So basically its a tool for people who are working on projects that they are working on with others. If you don't do that, then the feature isn't for you.
  • ImSpartacus - Tuesday, September 22, 2015 - link

    Collaboration is so important that I'd rather take the feature hit and use Google Docs because it's just so damn good at collaboration. Good collaboration features are invaluable when working in groups.
  • Murloc - Wednesday, September 23, 2015 - link

    If it's in the app itself, no window switching is necessary. Also it's probably easier to set up than using a separate app. This is even more useful on tablets.
  • kaidenshi - Monday, September 28, 2015 - link

    For collaboration, as stated in the article. It's likely similar to Quickbooks Messenger in the Enterprise versions of Quickbooks.

    It would be nice to see something more fully featured like Slack, however there's only so much you can do in a program like Word without making it even more bloated than it already is.
  • ImSpartacus - Tuesday, September 22, 2015 - link

    Collaboration is pretty cool, but is that it?

    I mean, I use excel like a fiend and I would get all hot & bothered over some new tweaks & features for power users. And let me tell you, there are definitely still some things that excel could do better. It's pretty ducking magnificent, but it's not yet perfect.
  • Wardrop - Tuesday, September 22, 2015 - link

    What else are you going to do with something like Word? They've got to sell new versions somehow, and there's not many other features lacking.

    Personally, I'd like it if Word supported semantic markup languages like Markdown in some shape or form, with live visual preview and the ability to have centralised styles (think CSS). Every document in your organisation could be linked to a centrally defined set of styles. You could essentially rebrand every document in your organisation instantly.
  • Murloc - Wednesday, September 23, 2015 - link

    well they already support styles, but they aren't applied through markup languages because people who are advanced enough for that stuff use LaTeX, while the others need a graphical interface because they're maybe not even familiar with forum tags.
    Being able to enforce the styles on all documents in an organization sounds pretty cool. But then you get the limitations that are avoided with latex (e.g. if 2 lines end up on the second page in word because the title is now bigger it just looks sloppy).
  • jay401 - Tuesday, September 22, 2015 - link

    I look forward to Office 2020, when hindsight arrives and people realize it's often a lot easier and faster to get stuff done doing it by yourself without distractions and "collaboration" slowing everything down.

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