Coming soon to a desktop near you is the latest iteration of the Microsoft Office Suite – Microsoft Office 2016. Skype and the Cortana digital assistant are among the Internet-connected features included in the new Office Suite and are present in both the cloud and packaged versions. This support of installed software is remarkable because the big push by Microsoft has been focused on moving customers to the Office 365 subscription version of the office suite, where customers can get monthly updates without installing and maintaining the software on-site. Moving customers to cloud versions of Office software helps Microsoft because they are delivered as a subscription, which means customers pay recurring fees rather than making one up-front purchase. That frees the company from trying to persuade people and businesses who own perfectly good older copies of Office to pony up for newer ones.
Along with the familiar productivity applications like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint; Microsoft has added tools for videoconferencing, voice commands and collaboration. Look for collaboration features much like Google docs where two people can type in the same document simultaneously and see each other’s work instantly.
Office 2016 will be available Tuesday in cloud and on-site versions for Windows, and on-premises for Apple Inc.’s Mac OS — the Office 365 cloud version has been available for Macs since July. The new software adds what Microsoft calls modern attachments to its Outlook e-mail and calendar app. Instead of static attached files, which run the risk of missing changes made since they were sent, workers can set a link to a file that will always contain the latest version.
Users can verbally ask Cortana, Microsoft’s artificial-intelligence-based assistant, to find a particular file or e-mail, and the Bing search engine is integrated so that hovering over a word with a mouse brings up a menu of choices including Web search. This version also has improved security
John Case, vice president for Office stated that Microsoft will continue making new versions of the standard, installed versions of Office as long as there’s customer demand, but the focus going forward will be on building up the cloud products. To that end, some advancements will appear in Office 365 only, such as Planner, a project-management and scheduling tool. “We are seeing much more momentum on the cloud side and that’s where you’ll see the innovation first”.