Not too long ago, Microsoft was the unquestioned leader in productivity suites, however with Google Docs along with a host of freeware office applications nipping at its heels, the organization must show that Office and its associated cloud services are worth the cash, both for businesses and home users. Rather than reinventing the wheel having a snazzy new UI or adding a ton of whiz-bang features, Office 2016 focuses squarely on collaboration, making it simpler for teams to communicate, edit exactly the same documents and plan projects together. Organizations will discover a lot to love while consumers visit a few new benefits from the suite, which comes as a download free for anybody who subscribes to Microsoft’s Office 365 service (starting at $6.99) or in a limited, boxed version for $139.99.
However, Microsoft leaves plenty of room for improvement in future upgrades, omitting certain important features and neglecting to fully integrate Office 2016 with the company’s new Windows 10 operating system. Here are seven things we like about Office 2016 and 2 we don’t.
Word 2016 Co-Editing with Chat
For a long time, Google Docs has already established one feature which makes it a lot better for collaboration than Office: real-time editing. Office 2016 adds this ability to Word and integrates Skype video chats with your teammates permanently measure. Better yet, it works just as well in both the Web and desktop Word apps.
After I opened a document, hit the Share button and gave permissions to a friend, he joined me and that i was able to see his name and cursor changing lines of text instantly, with no discernable lag. This process worked flawlessly, whether he or I was using the desktop Word 2016 client or even the Word Web app in a browser.
I opened the Share tab and was able to visit a list of subscribers who had permissions to edit that document, with a listing of those currently editing it appearing over a vertical rule. When i hovered within the names, icons appeared for initiating a call, sending an instant message, starting a video chat or sending an e-mail. When the users were online, using Skype for Business and area of the same organizational account, Word showed them as available.
After i hit the recording Call button on my small friend’s name, Skype for Business put their hands up and initiated a call for all of us therefore we were able to chat while editing a document. With Skype minimized, my friend’s video appeared as a small floating window over the document, there was lots of space for all of us to edit content while still seeing each other’s faces. However, in order to message or call someone, you have to either be using Skype for Business within the same organization or, if you are using regular Skype, the users’ email must be inside your contacts list or linked to a public Skype account.
Simple Sharing, Cloud Attachments in Outlook
Office 2016 causes it to be especially simple to invite others to see and edit exactly the same documents. A Share button sits around the right side from the toolbar in the major desktop apps: Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
Office 2016’s biggest sharing innovation appears not in the major document apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) but in Outlook’s attachment feature. Microsoft knows that a lot of times users will download cloud-based documents and then email the files rather than send the colleagues a hyperlink to edit the documents in the cloud. That is because setting permissions can be such a hassle. Who would like to email someone a link after which find out they can’t open it or can open although not edit it?
In Outlook 2016, when you attach a document that’s kept in your OneDrive folder and email it to a person, the recipient is automatically granted edit permissions. In the event that person is using Outlook, the document even looks like an attachment icon the person can open. Somewhat annoyingly, though, when I double-clicked around the attachment for a Word doc I received, I had been first come to the Web browser and asked if I desired to open the document instead of going right to the term client or Word app.
To make it easier still to transmit documents in Outlook, the mail composer window shows a summary of twelve recent files, both local and cloud based, whenever you hit the paper-clip icon. If the file is one you’ve done recently, you will not need to go browsing around your hard disk searching for it.
Custom User Groups Any User Can make
In most organizations that use Office, if you want to contact everyone involved in a particular project or your particular department, you’ve two choices: ask the IT department to create a group mailing address for you or simply remember to CC all of the right people on every message.
However, with Outlook 2016, organizational users can create their own custom groups and enable people to those groups when needed. All groups you are subscribed to appear through your listing of email boxes in Outlook’s left windowpane. Whenever you pick a group, you can observe a list of threaded conversations from members and you may also view a shared calendar for the group, a directory of OneDrive files and a Onenote notebook. After accepting your invitation, members can also add people to the audience.
I made a new group called “AvramsTestGroup” by right-clicking around the Groups header and selecting New Group. I had been then prompted to choose a reputation in my group and set so that it is private or public for invited members. The software didn’t let me add a person with their email externally the organization.
I set my group to receive emails from outside the business and ended up being able to send a note from my Gmail account towards the group. However, by default, groups are only able to receive communication from inside the business.
Sadly, home users do not have access towards the Groups feature; only business and education customers do.
Planner Helps Manage Projects
Whether your group is focusing on a shared project or just includes a few rolling tasks, you can preserve tabs on everyone’s work in the brand new Planner Web app. After i opened the Planner Hub, a Web-based dashboard with navigation to all from the organization’s “plans” (or tasks), I saw a list of available plans in the left pane and tiles representing the status of every plan within the right pane, with every tile showing the number of tasks are uncompleted and just how many are late, not started or in progress. By default, each group is listed as a “plan,” and you cannot create multiple plans for the same group. However i was able to produce a plan without first building a group and assigning users into it.
After i opened a current plan, I was given a set of columns, each with a listing of tasks — presented as cards — underneath it. The leftmost column is a generic To complete column, as the other medication is custom Buckets to which you can drag tasks. In the sample “Coho Sales Team” plan that Microsoft demonstrated, there have been buckets for Proposal Development, Reviews and Approvals, and Opportunity Kickoff. The credit card for every task showed the title of the task, its deadline and also the name of the person it had been allotted to. If the assignee had attached a document or photo to the task, a screenshot from the file appeared in the card.
Clicking the Charts icon towards the top of the screen shows a colorful pie chart of methods many tasks are complete, happening, late or not started. A long bar chart next to it shows what they are called of every participant having a bar representing what percentage of their tasks are in progress or complete.
When designing or editing an activity, you can write an account, add attachments or links, change the status, adjust the start/end dates, or add comments. The tasks should be viewed not only by the assignee but additionally by other group members who are able to view the fruits of their labor and add their feedback here. It’s not hard to see Planner replacing third-party project-management apps such as Basecamp, which offer a similar service try not to integrate with Office. There’s also Microsoft’s own Project software, which costs extra ($25 per user per month for Office 365) and is a lot more complex.
The Planner continues to be in preview and can only appear initially within the Web interface for organizations which are part of Microsoft’s “Fire Release” program of early adopters. It won’t initially be available for consumers.
New Excel Charts
Microsoft has added six new types of charts to Excel, which let you present data in fresh and appealing ways. Probably the most intriguing of these is the Waterfall chart, which shows vertical bars pointing down or up from the baseline, with those below the line showing losses while those above show gains. While Microsoft says the Waterfall will work for financial data, we can also imagine it getting used to trace other mixed results, for example Web pages on a site that grew or shrank in traffic.
Their email list of other new charts includes the Tree Map, a tilelike visualization of the value of different items are relative to one another (ex: art books versus children’s books and romance novels) and also the Sunburst chart, which turns that data right into a pie-chart-like circle.
More importantly, Excel’s charts feature can now do forecasts for you. For instance, after i highlighted three years’ price of revenue data for any publishing company and selected the forecast option, Excel presented me with a line chart showing the following year’s projected revenue in orange. When I highlighted 12 months of data, it demonstrated a monthly chart with projections for the following 3 months following the period of time I’d selected.
Office Themes Bring a A little Color
The bars and ribbons in Office 2013 are a stark white color that makes them really difficult to look at and distinguish from each other, particularly when you run Windows 10, which provides most programs a white title bar automatically.
Office 2016 enables you to choose from this stark white theme, a dark gray theme and also the “colorful” theme, which is on automatically and provides each app a title bar and ribbon header that suits its traditional accent color. There’s blue for Word, light blue for Outlook, a benefit to Excel and red for PowerPoint. With a number of these programs open at the same time, I was able to tell easily and quickly which i was taking a look at a presentation or perhaps a Word doc, just in the color scheme of the UI around it.
If you’re viewing or editing a document, and also you see a word or phrase you need to find out about, you can easily highlight it, right-click and choose Smart Lookup. A pane can look on the right side from the application with some articles and photos from Bing about the phrase. This works in all the major Office apps, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, and it even draws some context from surrounding text you didn’t highlight.
To check on Smart Lookup’s ability do draw its information from context, I opened a new Word document and wrote two sentences while using word “notebook,” one about buying a “notebook computer” and another about writing in a “spiral notebook.” I then highlighted just the word “notebook” in every sentence and thrilled Smart Lookup. Within the first case, I saw photos and content about portable computers, however in the second, I was shown nothing but details about paper notebooks.
While this is a useful feature, it’s hardly an original one. Microsoft’s Edge Browser includes a nearly identical feature called Ask Cortana, which fires up when you highlight and right-click text on the Web site. Google Chrome’s right-click menu enables you to “search Google for” the highlighted term, but its results spawn a brand new tab.
No Real-Time Co-Editing for Excel, PowerPoint
Though Word allows you to edit exactly the same document as other users instantly using the desktop client, Excel and PowerPoint do not. If you are using the net apps for either program, you are able to edit a document simultaneously as others and you will see their changes appear, although not in real time.
When a friend and that i tried to edit the same presentation at the same time within the Web app, the top corner from the window showed a summary of people currently editing. And when my friend made a change, I saw a small orange icon appear on the slide he was editing, however it took several seconds for his changes to look on my small screen. Neither did I see his name floating above those changes as he typed, nor could his typing like I could on Word. We couldn’t edit the same document if one people had it open within the desktop PowerPoint or Excel app.
By comparison, Google Docs enables you to see lag-free, real-time edits in word-processing documents, spreadsheets and presentations. It’s easy to suppose Microsoft will ultimately bring the co-editing feature to PowerPoint and Excel, but for now, the organization hasn’t announced plans or perhaps a time frame.
Doesn’t Adjust UI to match Tablet Mode
Like prior versions of Office, 2016 lets you enable a touch mode, which slightly enlarges and spaces out the icons on its ribbon menu for easier finger targeting. However, you need to switch between touch and mouse modes manually, by hitting a little icon within the upper left corner of the among the application windows and selecting a pull-down menu. Since this is a Microsoft product running on Windows 10, we hoped it might automatically become touch-friendly whenever we moved from desktop to tablet modes — by, for example, detaching the keyboard from a Surface Tablet.
As the icons take presctiption the ribbon tend to be easier to target in touch mode, other areas of the UI — such as the editing area for cells, or dialog boxes for changing chart properties — are just no more than they’re in mouse mode, which makes them more of a challenge to click.
Free Upgrades and Versions
Anybody who has already been a subscriber to Office 365 — like a home user, a business or an enterprise client — is immediately permitted to upgrade to Office 2016 free of charge. Users or organizations using boxed software will need to purchase a subscription or boxed copy. We highly recommend the subscription, since it provides more software (ex: Outlook) and future updates.
Consumers with a fear of monthly fees can buy Office Home & Student, that amounted to $139.99 as a one-time purchase and runs on one computer, but does not include Outlook, Publisher or Access. For $6.99 per month, Office 365 Personal provides you with a regular membership to make use of all the apps and 1TB of cloud storage; the $9.99 Office 365 Home provides you with exactly the same on five computers. You can save some cash by buying a key card that includes a product key with the first 12 months prepaid. Amazon currently has one year of Office 365 Personal for $59.99 and Office 365 Home for $69.99.
Organizations with as many as 300 employees pay $12.50 per user per month for Office 365 Business Premium, including all the major office apps plus email. Companies with more than 300 users must buy an Enterprise package, which costs $20 per user per month for similar services.
If you’re already an Office 365 subscriber, you’ll love the improvements that Microsoft offers, and you ought to download your free upgrade right away. Home users may benefit greatly in the improved themes, Smart Lookup that has been enhanced Excel charts. Business users should be particularly excited through the improved collaboration tools, especially the real-time co-editing in Word, the cloud-based email attachments in Outlook and the custom Groups feature. If your company subscribes, ask your help desk to upgrade you ASAP. Depending on your IT policy, you may also be allowed to run the upgrade yourself.
If you’re a home user with an old version of Office with no subscription, the brand new features may not provide enough good reasons to upgrade. Google Docs users have a tough choice, because Office 2016 provides a lot more advanced formatting, macros along with other tools, however it still does not have real-time co-editing for spreadsheets and presentations like Docs does. However, if you do not need which include but want the most advanced overall productivity package on the market, Office 2016 is your best option.