By: Dan Bremner
It’s been a big week for software releases. First, Apple released the latest iPhone and iPad operating system, iOS 9, to go along with their newly introduced devices. Then Microsoft released Office 2016, with a huge focus on collaborating and making use of the shared cloud storage that comes with Office 365 subscriptions, OneDrive and SharePoint. To top it all off, Apple brought out a Microsoft exec onstage at their event, for the first time in what, 20 years?
Let’s focus on Office 2016, which as you may guess from the appearance with Apple, is finally a true cross-platform simultaneous release for the first time ever. The same version is available on Windows PCs and Apple Macs, and there are mobile versions for Windows phone, Android, and Apple devices. You can start editing a document in Word on your PC at work, pick up where you left off in Word on your Android phone on the train home, and continue on your Mac when you get home.
If you’ve collaborated with others working at the same time on a document in Google Docs, or more recently in Word Online, you’ve seen the real-time co-authoring features that are now available in Word. If you save your document in OneDrive or SharePoint, you can share that document right from within the program, and other people can open it and type in it, while you see what they type in real time. The in-app sharing works in Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, the Co-Authoring works in Word and PowerPoint, and the real-time typing works in Word only for now. OneNote has had notebook sharing and near-real-time syncing for a while now.
Recognizing that our documents keep getting bigger, and email isn’t always the best way of sharing these files (especially if multiple people need to edit, and you want to avoid version nightmares), Outlook now has the ability to “Attach” files from OneDrive or SharePoint that don’t attach the file, just a link to the shared file location. Even better, it will automatically adjust the permissions of those files so that the email recipients have read or read/write permission to the “attached” files, depending how you set it.
Speaking of collaboration, Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype is making its way into Office too. While sharing a document, you can also initiate a Skype messaging session with the document collaborators from within your document window. Skype for Business has completely supplanted Lync as Microsoft’s business messaging tool, and is making a big play to be a natural extension of your workflow with colleagues.
There are many more features to explore in Office 2016, including new chart types, new forecasting features in Excel, and integration with external web data, and lots more. To help find the feature you want to use, the Help system has been revamped with Tell Me. Start typing what you want to do, and Tell Me will get you to the feature you’re looking for, or will find help on the feature.
The connected, work-anywhere-from-any-device promises that have been hinted at for years are now starting to become reality. It’s an exciting time for businesses to take advantage of new opportunities for productivity. If you’d like us to help you get up to speed with Office 365, OneDrive, SharePoint, or the new Office 2016 suite, give us a shout. We’re glad to help!