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Office 2016: Nothing Earth-Shattering, But a Few Cool Features

17 Sep 2015 by Teresa Meek

Microsoft is releasing Office 2016, the latest version of its popular suite of software programs, on Sept. 22. Since there are no major changes, users of previous versions will have to think hard about whether to shell out for an upgrade.

But users of Office 365, who rent the software for a monthly fee, don’t have to think at all — this and all future upgrades will be included with their subscription at no additional cost, starting in October.

Though Microsoft hasn’t released pricing for the stand-alone version yet, rumor has it that a home and student edition will sell for $160, and a business edition for $275. An Office 365 subscription ranges from $70 a year for personal use to $150 a year for the highest-level business plan.

So what’s new in 2016? Here are a few of the additional features:

  • For enterprise 365 users only, Office 2016 offers better ability to collaborate through Outlook Desktop Groups. With this feature, Microsoft is arriving late to a party where droves of millennials have already downloaded apps like Slack, Dropbox, Google Drive, Trello and Basecamp, which have offered better sharing capability than Office for years. Microsoft’s new Groups feature manages email groups better, integrates communications using OneDrive and allows users to create appointments on a joint scheduling calendar.
  • One nifty new time-saving feature is a search box located by the Ribbon called Tell Me, which lets you type in the function you’re looking for — resetting the margin, creating a macro, or whatever — without going elsewhere to hunt it down. Like Google, Tell Me starts guessing what you want as you type, quickly bringing up results you can click. It certainly beats going to File > Help > Microsoft Office Help, and then waiting for the program to load before you can even begin your search.
  • In another departure from previous versions, 2016 will be exactly the same for all users, whether they access it on a PC, laptop, tablet or an Apple or Android phone.
  • The software offers new types of charts that Microsoft says are particularly good for visualizing financial or hierarchal information and revealing statistical properties in your data.
  • Math nerds can write equations with a digital pen or scrawl them with a finger if they like — the results get converted into a neatly typed formula.
  • In terms of looks, 2016 will offer additional color schemes and new preset styles for Word, Excel and PowerPoint. A higher-resolution display means documents will look sharper on larger screens.
  • Image rotation will become less annoying: once you insert an image, Office will rotate it automatically to match the camera’s orientation. Microsoft is careful to note that this feature applies only to newly inserted images, not pictures in existing documents. (Which makes you wonder how many people just gave up on rotation in the past, filing away documents with impossible-to-read illustrations in the hope that somebody more tech-savvy would eventually come along and fix them.)

Stay tuned for the release of Office 2016 on Sept. 22. In the meantime, learn how we can help you with your software purchases, implementation and support.