What’s new in Office 2016 for Windows

Less than two weeks after Microsoft overhauled its Office suite for Mac, it’s now surfaced the Windows version. While the jump between Office 2016 for Windows and its predecessor Office 2013 isn’t so great as with the Mac platform, there are still some cosmetic changes and under-the-hood improvements that the company hopes will help in its fight with Google Docs and other free productivity suites.

Achieving “inbox zero”

Streamlining your inbox is something even the most efficient and productive of us struggle with. Microsoft is aiming to make Outlook the program of choice for you to get as close as you can to “inbox zero” by introducing functionality called Clutter. This new feature scans your inbox and moves what it deems to be the less important emails to a new folder (called Clutter). As it’s an intelligent service, it learns from the actions you take when organizing emails. Additionally, you can also attached documents from OneDrive directly in Outlook, as long as you have Microsoft’s cloud service connected.

Real-time document editing

Collaboration is key and being able to see what your friends or colleagues are working on while you are editing a document is important. While this is a feature already offered in Google Docs, Microsoft is bringing real-time document editing to Office 2016 for Windows, meaning you will see names pop up in little boxes when your friends are editing a particular area.

Colorful user interface

Office 2016 for Windows new colorful interface

Microsoft makes the most of the very recognizable Office colors by further integrating them into the ribbon interface. While this may seem like a minor change, it’s all part of the company’s aim to deliver a better experience for users by staying fresh and modern (and not being too boring). You can also download additional themes if you want to change things around even more.

Show not tell

Tell Me Feature is new for Office 2016 for Windows

While Microsoft’s major new feature introduced in Office 2016 is called “Tell Me”, it might be better named “Show Me”. Unlike the much-loved Clippy from old versions of Office, “Tell Me” doesn’t just show you instructions about how to do something, it actually does it for you. For example, type in “insert comment” and it will automatically insert a comment for you. It’s pretty useful for those commands that you use on a fairly regular basis but can never remember how to do.

Lync becomes Skype for Business

Lync becomes Skype for Business

Microsoft first announced its intention to transform Lync into Skype for Business last year and this has now come to fruition in the Office 2016 for Windows preview. The company’s aim is to bring the best from its consumer and business-facing products together in a familiar user interface.

Crunch the data in Excel

Power Query is now integrated in Excel

For power users who carry out complex calculations in Excel, the good news is that Microsoft has integrated various add-ons right into the program’s user interface to improve its business intelligence functionality. This will give you the ability to work with even more data sources, and analyze this data faster. There are also a variety of new graphs and charts to choose from.

Visio and Project enhancements

Vision templates provided in Getting Started experience

While they may not generate the headlines of Word and Excel, Visio and Project are still two very useful tools. They both get some love in the latest version of Office for Windows too, with a new timeline view in Microsoft Project, as well as a new tutorial called “Getting Started” in Visio to help users get up and running more quickly.

You can download Office 2016 for Windows preview now if you have access to an Office 365 account.

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