I remember the day in June that Microsoft released Microsoft Office 2010. It was a huge step for the organization, providing its first online versions, known at the time as Office Web Apps (now Office 365) and the integration of the ribbon across all products. Office 2010 addressed common user complaints of accessibility and a user interface that customers found cumbersome. At that time, customers were excited about the Office Web Apps; in fact, I recall one conversation in particular with a client who asked, “Does this mean I’ll be able to use Word, anywhere in the world, on any computer, without a hard install?” Yes, exactly. At the time, we had little concept for what that foundation would drive, but with Microsoft’s release on September 22, 2015 of Office 2016, everything is now coming into focus.
Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President for the Office Client Applications and Services team, Kirk Koenigsbauer, announced Microsoft Office 2016 on the Office Blog, and in his post he announced the milestone for value for Office 365 and Windows 10 customers. The announcement and subsequent marketing initiatives were also immediately online on the Office website..
Fundamentally, Kirk’s announcement looks and feels very much like the SharePoint announcements we have seen in the past focusing on collaboration, apps and security features that organizations will find immediately useful. There is also a significant push to marry Office 2016 with Windows and Windows 10, though Microsoft also released Office 2016 for Mac as well.
Office 2016 includes some familiar features, such as real-time co-authoring, which has been included in Microsoft’s suite of web apps since 2013. This release includes enhancements to co-authoring, with functionality included across all native apps, resulting in live updates to documents and presentations as team members are making their changes. Collaborative teams and those working under tight deadlines will find this to be extremely useful, as it eliminates the need to pass documents back and forth while other team members are completing their work.
Further to Microsoft’s global push for enhanced collaboration, Skype for Business is now available within each of the Office apps, which means users can IM or video chat right from the desktop application, which is a welcome addition to those previously unfamiliar with the use of these technologies in Office 365.
Office 365 Groups also enters the collaboration foray in Outlook 2016 and in the app store across all mobile platforms. Project teams will be interested in this capability to allow team members a shared space that includes cloud storage, calendars, OneNote and a shared inbox; an excellent step towards the future of team collaboration.