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Microsoft Office 2016, 10 features we're crazy about

Collaboration is the reoccurring theme in Microsoft’s newly renovated productivity suite.

For those of us who are less tech literate, the new Office 2016 suite still features the cozy applications we all know and love- Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook, which all have the same user-friendly foundation of their predecessors.

However, one thing is for certain;  the creative minds at Microsoft remodeled the Office suite better than an HGTV dream home. A few of our favorite new amenity upgrades, implement the use of collaboration capabilities that blend together in a seamless living space accented by SharePoint and OneDrive. Although beautifully landscaped, the new suite architecture has so many new highlights you can't afford to miss, not to worry, we'll give you a walk-through of the features that matter most.


1. Word Real-Time Co-Authoring

The new addition of real-time co-authoring enables users to collaborate and edit documents in real-time simultaneously. When co-authoring between Word Online and Word 2016 for Windows Desktop, both people can view each other’s presence and real-time typing. If a third person joins them from Word Mobile for Windows 10, that third person will be able to co-author, getting updates when they save, while the other two will continue to be “editing in real-time”.

Collaborators are invited to work on the same Word documents and PowerPoint presentations that save to SharePoint and OneDrive without overwriting one another’s modifications. Although my favorite “real-time typing” feature enables you to view your co-workers while they edit, the collaboration is only accessible in Word for the time being.


2. Irresistible Shareability

Simplified document sharing is another amenity of Office that is too valuable to pass up, courtesy of the signature “Share Button" located on the ribbon. Available in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, the Share Button lets you share the access to a document to your team, serving as a common area to review, edit, and view who is currently collaborating on the document. As with co-authoring, the files must be saved in either SharePoint or OneDrive to be shared.


3. Office Groups

The new Office Groups update is a must for project management. Groups allow the user to create specialized groups in Outlook 2016 and then apply those groups to other Office applications for collaboration. It's like having a project file accessible to your entire team across their Office apps, available from within the email client you likely have open all day anyway. Office Groups was previously an app in Outlook Web, but now it is easily accessed via Outlook 2016 desktop client as well. (Mobile users need to use the separate Office 365 Groups app.)


4. Sway Digital Storytelling

A brand-new app in the Office collection, Sway was built from the ground up specifically for the web and devices. Sway takes an effortless approach to creating and sharing presentations that in design more resemble an e-book or e-magazine layout than a traditional slide. It's a great way for teachers to quickly create interesting content for students.


5. Smart Lookup

Smart Lookup is an exciting new accommodation that allows you to fact-check or explore terms by selecting “Smart Lookup” from the context menu and instantly pull up related information without leaving the comfort of your Office app. Simply highlight the terms in your document to generate search results straight from the web directly into your authoring environment. Results are Bing-powered and will load into an “Insights” panel within your authoring context.


6. Excel Charts

For most of us, the selection of charts in Office was well, boring. Microsoft must have got the hint and hired a visual interior decorator because they are fully furnished Excel with six new beautiful charts (Waterfall, Pareto, Treemap, Histogram, Box & Whisker, and Sunburst)  that accommodate visualization of financial or hierarchical data.


7. Forecasting

Excel aficionados will appreciate the ability to create a forecast of usable data. This new tool is embedded within Excel’s charts feature, making it simple to derive quick and dirty projections with the click of a mouse. Microsoft says that the feature uses the industry standard Exponential Smoothing (ETS) algorithm to give reliable forecasting data. For employers, insisting that staffers use this feature could help cut down on shenanigans in which forecasts gets too “creative.”


8. Skype Integration

One of the streamlined integrations that Office 2016 upgraded is how the multiple desktop apps now let you jump onto Skype from within Word or Excel. Tap into the various capabilities in Skype such as Instant Messaging (IM), voice or video calls, as well as screen sharing without having to halt your current workflow to launch the Skype client, now how convenient is that.


9. Stronger Cross-Device Support

Finally, there is no question about it; Office 2016 denotes a fundamental step forward a new world of cross-platform support with smooth integration spanning across both platforms and apps than ever before. More importantly, there is no feeling that any of these Office apps are abandoned or even “left behind” regarding the development curve.


10. Power BI

Between the release of Office 2013 and Office 2016, Microsoft spent a significant amount of time and resources acquiring technologies that stepped up its business intelligence and analytical applications in a big way. Power BI, a robust analytics tool, now comes bundled with your Office 365 subscription. Knowing every small detail about how your business is running is essential in business information, and Power BI wraps it up in a nice little package for you.

Of course, many of the features showcased here require a subscription to Office 365 to fully maximize the benefits of your new Office 2016. There is no question that the new productivity and collaboration enhancements are indeed luxurious amenities, which is as good an argument as any to consider Office 365.

Find the right version of Office 2016 with our comparison chart

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