There were a lot of big announcements at the one and only keynote at Microsoft's Ignite conference in Chicago, but one of the biggest was the availability of a Public Preview of Office 2016. While Microsoft continues to shine the spotlight on the cloud-based version of Office and its associated applications and services, there is a lot to like about the new version of Office desktop apps on Windows.
“Over the last 12 months, we’ve transformed Office from a suite of desktop applications to a complete, cross-platform, cross-device solution for getting work done,” said Jared Spataro, general manager for the Office marketing team, in a blog post. “We’ve expanded the Office footprint to iPad and Android tablets. We’ve upgraded Office experiences on the Mac, the iPhone and on the web. We’ve even added new apps to the Office family with Sway and Office Lens. All designed to keep your work moving, everywhere. But that doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten where we came from. While you’ve seen us focus on tuning Office for different platforms over the last year, make no mistake, Office on Windows desktop is central to our strategy.”
Microsoft debuted an IT Pro and Developer Preview for the 2016 release of the Office desktop apps in March, and now the company has opened the doors to a wider audience.
“We’re ready to take feedback from a broader audience,” wrote Spataro, who added that the company plans to integrate feedback from users of the preview as it moves toward general availability of the platform in the fall.
Office 2016 has a slew of new features designed to help individuals, teams and businesses more effectively work across devices and computing platforms. Here are seven things users will likely appreciate:
1. A new attachment feature in Outlook will enable users to attach files from OneDrive and configure permissions, without leaving Outlook.
2. Users of Office Online apps have been able to collaborate in real time on documents, and now users of Windows desktop applications will have the same capability (starting with Word).
3. Each of us probably uses Office apps in a slightly different way. Office applications will be better at “learning” us by taking note of cues as we work---helping us stay on track.
4. The new Tell Me search tool--available in Word, PowerPoint and Excel---will serve up commands based on what you tell it you want to do.
5. Inbox clutted? A new Exchange feature called (what else?) Clutter, accessible in Outlook, uses machine learning to analyze your email patterns and de-clutter your inbox by moving lower-priority messages into a new folder.
6. The Bing-powered Insights tool will help users find contextual information from the Web from within text.
7. Excel is more powerful. There's actually a lot going on here. Excel's data analysis capabilities have been boosted, enabling users to pull, map, analyze and visualize data faster and more easily. Forecasts on data series can be created with one click to future trends, and users can take advantage of a broad range of sources to analyze data in a way that makes sense to them (including tables from websites, corporate data like SAP Business Objects, unstructured sources like Hadoop and services like Salesforce). Excel also boasts deeper analysis with higher speed, the ability to publish to Power BI, and a host of new chart and graph types.
Were the things on your Office 2016 wish list represented here? What does Microsoft still need to do? Please let us know in the comments section below.