10 Mi­crosoft Of­fice 2016 fea­tures you’ll love

Col­lab­o­ra­tion is the key to Mi­crosoft’s still-ubiq­ui­tous pro­duc­tiv­ity suite. Ian Paul re­ports

Tech Advisor - - FEATURE -

To the ca­sual user, the ap­pli­ca­tions that make up Of­fice 2016 – Word, Ex­cel, Pow­erPoint and Out­look are the an­chor ten­ants, of course, rounded out by OneNote, Ac­cess and Pub­lisher – will be in­dis­tin­guish­able from their pre­de­ces­sors. But make no mis­take about it; Mi­crosoft’s re­boot of its flag­ship soft­ware suite is a ma­jor up­date, offering a wealth of col­lab­o­ra­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties that in­te­grate more tightly with SharePoint and OneDrive than be­fore. The many tweaks and en­hance­ments across the board can be con­fus­ing though, and we peek un­der the hood to high­light the fea­tures that mat­ter most.

1 Real-time coau­thor­ing

The ca­pa­bil­ity to work on the same doc­u­ment si­mul­ta­ne­ously with your col­leagues comes to the desk­top version of the pro­duc­tiv­ity suite in Of­fice 2016. Work­mates can work on the same Word doc­u­ments and Pow­erPoint pre­sen­ta­tions that are saved on SharePoint or OneDrive with­out over­writ­ing each other’s changes. Note that the ‘real-time typ­ing’ fea­ture in which you can see your col­leagues work­ing on the same doc­u­ment is only avail­able in Word for now. Pow­erPoint sup­ports coau­thor­ing, but with­out real-time typ­ing.

3 Send large files with OneDrive

While the abil­ity to share large files by send­ing a pri­vate URL link to friends and col­leagues is hardly a novel fea­ture, the fact that it is now in­te­grated into Of­fice 365 should be of in­ter­est from a pro­duc­tiv­ity point of view. File at­tach­ments added to an email mes­sage in Out­look are au­to­mat­i­cally con­verted into a link that re­cip­i­ents can click on to down­load, as­sum­ing they are al­ready synced to an OneDrive ac­count or SharePoint folder. You can also spec­ify whether they can be edited, or opt to at­tach the file as a lo­cal file copy in­stead, too.

2 Sim­pli­fied doc­u­ment shar­ing

You can now eas­ily share your doc­u­ments in Of­fice 2016, cour­tesy of a prom­i­nent ‘Share’ but­ton in the Rib­bon. Avail­able across Word, Ex­cel and Pow­erPoint, this lets you share ac­cess to a doc­u­ment to your team mem­bers, and serves as a one-stop lo­ca­tion to re­view ac­cess per­mis­sions or see who is cur­rently work­ing on the doc­u­ment. As with coau­thor­ing, the files must be saved in ei­ther SharePoint or OneDrive in or­der to be shared.

4 Im­proved ver­sion­ing

Made a mis­take while edit­ing a doc­u­ment, or ac­ci­den­tally deleted a chunk of con­tent some time back and only just re­alised it? For files saved on SharePoint and OneDrive for Busi­ness (This doesn’t work for reg­u­lar OneDrive at the mo­ment), Of­fice 2016 al­lows you to view his­tor­i­cal ver­sions of Of­fice files di­rectly from within Word, Ex­cel and Pow­erPoint. Sim­ply go to File > History to see a list of all prior ver­sions in the History pane, click on the de­sired version, and load it in a sep­a­rate win­dow. The fea­ture is also use­ful for re­view­ing ear­lier drafts of doc­u­ments when edit­ing a file or col­lab­o­rat­ing with oth­ers.

6 Sup­port for Of­fice Groups 365 in Out­look A new fea­ture called Groups in Out­look 2016 was qui­etly added with the launch of Of­fice 2016. While rel­a­tively lit­tle men­tion was made of it, the new tool of­fers a su­pe­rior way to elim­i­nate tra­di­tional dis­tri­bu­tion lists or messy email chains for col­lab­o­ra­tion within teams and project groups – both at work or at home. You can cre­ate a group for new col­leagues or friends to join, with each group hav­ing its own shared in­box, cal­en­dar, file repos­i­tory and even in­te­grated OneNote notes.

5 Smart Lookup

Smart Lookup is a new fea­ture that al­lows you to high­light a word and se­lect­ing ‘Smart Lookup’ from the con­text menu (right-click on the mouse) to quickly pull up some re­lated in­for­ma­tion with­out hav­ing to leave your Of­fice app. Use it to look up the def­i­ni­tion of a new word, or to gain some con­text with an un­fa­mil­iar term. Re­sults are Bing-pow­ered and will load into an ‘In­sights’ pane within your cur­rent au­thor­ing en­vi­ron­ment. 7 New Ex­cel chart types For those who felt the se­lec­tion of charts in Of­fice was get­ting a tad bor­ing, Mi­crosoft has added a bunch of new charts that should help users to do a bet­ter job when it comes to vi­su­al­is­ing fi­nan­cial or hi­er­ar­chi­cal data. Use the fol­low­ing new charts on Word, Ex­cel and Pow­erPoint: Treemap, Wa­ter­fall, Pareto, His­togram, Box and Whisker, and Sun­burst.

8 One-click Fore­cast­ing

Ex­cel nin­jas will ap­pre­ci­ate the abil­ity to cre­ate a forecast from avail­able data. This new ca­pa­bil­ity is em­bed­ded within Ex­cel’s charts fea­ture, making it easy to de­rive quick and dirty pro­jec­tions with the click of a mouse. Mi­crosoft says 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’.

10 Stronger cross-de­vice sup­port

Fi­nally, there is no ques­tion that Of­fice 2016 rep­re­sents a key step for­ward a new world of cross-plat­form sup­port with tighter in­te­gra­tion across both plat­forms and apps than be­fore. Im­por­tantly, there is no feel­ing that any of th­ese Of­fice apps are aban­doned or even ‘left be­hind’ in terms of the de­vel­op­ment curve.

Of course, many of the ca­pa­bil­i­ties high­lighted here do re­quire a sub­scrip­tion to Of­fice 365 to ei­ther use, or to de­rive the max­i­mum ben­e­fit from. There is no ques­tion that the new pro­duc­tiv­ity and col­lab­o­ra­tion en­hance­ments are real though, which is as good an ar­gu­ment as any to con­sider Of­fice 365.

9 Skype in­te­gra­tion

One of the tighter in­te­gra­tion that Of­fice 2016 of­fers is how the var­i­ous desk­top apps now let users jump into a Skype call from within Word of 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 break out of your cur­rent work­flow or to launch the Skype client.

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