Rolling out a cloud-based version of Office gave Microsoft something very important: Information. There’s always a gap between how you predict people will use your product and how they actually use it. Feedback is crucial when deciding what features to focus on moving forward. Since the cloud-based 360 sends Microsoft user behavior, they had all the feedback they could handle when designing Office 2016. The result is a smarter and more efficient suite. Here are some of our favorite features.
Microsoft Word alone has thousands of features. Searching for the right one can be a bear. Tell Me lets you give verbal commands to Word, Excel or PowerPoint to bring up a tool or feature. It doesn’t lead you to a Help file to read. It doesn’t lead you to Clippy. It traces through the menu bar to the exact feature you want. In terms of the don’t-make-me-think approach to design, Tell Me is a big step forward.
Collaborating on documents, especially in real time, is tricky business. Office 2016 seems to have nailed it, allowing you to see others’ edits and refer back to earlier drafts. When working on a Word, PowerPoint or OneNote document at the same time, your cursor will be visible to your collaborator and lock the paragraph you’re currently working on. You can choose whether your text appears to other viewers in real time, or only upon saving. You can also see your co-workers’ availability and start a Skype chat from inside the document. The call can then be minimized to a small unobtrusive window, so you can stay connected while you work.
Research and fact-checking gets integrated with 2016 via the Bing-powered Smart Lookup. When you highlight a string of text and right-click, the Smart Lookup option will use contextual information to deliver search results right next to your document. This means fewer clicks to search, no need to drag windows around to share the screen, and an all-around easier method to jump between research and writing.
One of the behavioral patterns Microsoft realized from 360 is that when people are opening an Office program, they’re usually working on something they’ve already started, not starting something new. Consequently, 2016 puts recently used docs front and center. More importantly, the recently used list roams between devices. Since 2016 follows Windows 10’s focus of mobile and touch screen-friendly performance, starting a document on your desktop and finishing it on your phone is expected to be smooth operation. A smarter Recently Used list is crucial in facilitating this. Finally, the Recently Used list is now integrated in Outlook, making emailing attachments take a fraction of what it used to. You can even set permissions on the fly.
Office 2016 is available now. If your office is interested in upgrading, let us know.