28 September 2015

Office 2016 - a small step for humanity

The newest version of Microsoft’s productivity suite is finally released. I have been using the beta versions extensively for many months, and I must say Office 2016 is a small but good step forward compared to the 2013 version. The good things stay the same, and Microsoft has just added some useful features.

Backwards compatible
The default file format is still the same xml and zip based .docx, .xlsx etc.that we are used to, so there is no need to worry about people not being able to read your files. In fact, the Office file formats have been the same for more than a decade now, which is a good thing of course.
Office 2016 logo
Intuitive help
The ribbon works in the same way it has since Office 2007 but with the welcome change of a very intuitive help. It does not only describe what to do but actually takes you to the appropriate button, dialog or wizard. Thus, if you type “table” in the help search box you will be sent to the Insert Table dialog directly, not to a text describing how to do it yourself. Very helpful!

Collaborative Office
Office 2016 will work perfectly well without Office 365, but it is 100% clear that Microsoft is putting their main efforts into making the Office suite more collaborative, and Office 365 is the platform for doing that.

Among the features that allow you to collaborate easier in Office 365 is a much improved co-editing feature, which now allows several people to simultaneously work on the same document, workbook or presentation. You can see what the other editors are doing as they do it, and you can also have a chat-like comments system right inside the document.

InfoPath removed
If you choose to do an in-place upgrade of your Office 2013 installation, you should be aware that both InfoPath Filler 2013 and InfoPath Designer 2013 will be removed during the installation. Therefore you will probably want to stay on Office 2013 if you are using InfoPath. As you probably know there will not be any new versions of InfoPath, and support for InfoPath will end in 2023.

SharePoint Designer
Another application that gets removed during an in-place upgrade is SharePoint Designer 2013. It is available as a separate installation, so if you want to continue using SharePoint Designer 2013, you will need to download and re-install it after the upgrade.

Attach Recent File
Outlook iconFinally I want to mention the new Attach Recent File feature in Outlook 2016. It makes it easier to attach files you have recently worked with, a very common use case. I don’t recommend sending files as attachments, but if it is necessary this is a good way to do it.

Send links, not attachments
The Attach Recent File feature makes it very easy to attach files from your online storage (OneDrive, OneDrive for Business or a SharePoint site). If you select such a file, it will actually not send the file itself but a link to its online storage.

SP Attach logoThis is interesting and almost the same functionality as our own Outlook add-in SP Attach, even though our solution gives more control over the process! supports 2016
We have been testing the products with Office 2016 without problems, but we will still release updates of our Outlook add-ins shortly, with some minor updates in one of the 3rd party components we use.

Learn more
Microsoft of course has more information on Office 2016, and you can learn a lot about Excel 2016 in the Excel 2016 from Scratch online tutorials and in my books about Excel 2016

The easiest way to acquire Office 2016 is with an Office 365-subscription, but it is also possible to buy a stand-alone version of the suite, as before. Enjoy the new Office!

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions