The global launch of the new Microsoft Office 2016 suite of workplace tools sees the ever-popular software incorporating more collaboration and productivity capabilities than ever. The latest version is also the first to be built from the ground up with mobile and cloud in mind.
Many of the new features are aimed at easing the ability for users to work together. For example, Microsoft has extended its real-time co-authoring functionality from the web and included it in Word, PowerPoint, and OneNote native apps, allowing multiple co-workers to make changes to a single document, which are then updated and shared in real-time
Microsoft Outlook, meanwhile, is now the ‘smartest inbox yet’, says the company, with lightning-fast search, and cloud-based attachments from OneDrive available to all recipients of an email.
Skype for Business is also now available in client apps in the new version of Office, allowing users to IM, screen share, talk or video chat from within documents. Skype for Business also has faster screen sharing and adds the option of starting a real-time co-authoring session from any conversation or meeting.
In other new features, Office 365 Groups now comes as part of Outlook 2016 and in a new Outlook Groups app on iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Office 365 Groups allows individuals to easily create public or private teams. Each group includes a shared inbox, calendar, cloud storage for group files, and a shared OneNote notebook to keep the team productive. The new version also has a new Office 365 Planner app designed to aid team-planning and task management from within a single dashboardOffice 2016 will also provide significant new updates to OneDrive for Business coming later this month across sync, browser, mobile, IT control and developer experiences, according to Microsoft. The highlight is the preview of the next generation sync client for Windows and Mac, offering improved reliability and selective sync, as well as increased file size and volume limits.
Excel 2016, meanwhile, includes integrated publishing to Power BI and new modern chart-types for analysing data. The cloud-powered most recently used documents list allows users to pick up right where they left off in seconds, because it travels across devices whether working in Office Online, the mobile apps or in the 2016 client apps.
For enterprises, Office 2016 apps with Office 365 also come with built-in Data Loss Prevention (DLP) to 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.
“The way people work has changed dramatically, and that’s why Microsoft is focused on reinventing productivity and business processes for the mobile-first, cloud-first world,” said Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft, at the launch. “These latest innovations take another big step forward in transforming Office from a familiar set of individual productivity apps to a connected set of apps and services designed for modern working, collaboration and teamwork.”
Users of Office 365 for Enterprise, Midsize and Education will be automatically upgraded to Office 2016 in the first quarter of 2016, according to the company, with premium subscribers automatically upgraded later in the year.