Whether at large corporations or small startups, Microsoft Office has been a consistent part of my work experience. And if you’re like me, and the other 1.1 billion people who use the software, get excited – this summer Microsoft is launching an expanded suite of tools for Windows and Mac.
At their Convergence 2015 conference in Atlanta, Microsoft previewed Office 2016 for Windows desktop. They also unveiled Skype for Business, which is now part of the Office suite.
Office 2016’s Technical Updates for Developers and IT Pros
The preview included a summary of improvements geared toward IT professionals and developers. If you have a handle on technical jargon, below is a selection of Office 2016’s exciting new updates:
- Expanding Data Loss Protection (DLP) for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
- Internet-friendly MAPI-HTTP protocol that supports Exchange/Outlook connectivity
- Foreground network calls so Outlook remains responsive on unreliable networks
- Multi-factor authentication
- Improved email delivery performance
- Settings that allow users to better manage how they store email
- Better search in Outlook
- Improved network traffic management
- Enhanced distribution management
- Flexible update management
- Simplified activation management
- Keyboard accessibility for high-value Excel features
- Information Rights Management will be extended to Visio files
Introducing Skype for Business, Featuring Enterprise Voice and New Meeting Devices
Skype for Business starts rolling out to Lync customers next month. It makes features like presence, IM, voice and video calls, and online videos available in Office applications. Skype for Business will replace Lync as Microsoft’s new and improved unified communications suite. It’s targeted at large enterprises and SMBs, and it consists of products that fulfill all communications needs.
Skype for Business makes enterprise voice available in Office 365 with PSTN calling and conferencing. The cloud plus on-premises offering allows organizations to take advantage of cloud services when they’re needed, like messaging, voice, and video calls, but also allows users to continue using their current phone systems that operate through landlines and cellular networks.
There’s also Skype Room Systems, which encompasses a portfolio of meeting devices. Microsoft has partnered with meeting device experts like Crestron, Polycom and Smart to release a range of Skype Room Systems devices that are built on a Windows 10 platform. Polycom is even launching a new product for Skype for Business called Polycom RoundTable, which was intentionally designed for small-to-midsize businesses and teams.
As if the devices weren’t enough, the new Microsoft Surface Hub with an 84-inch 4k display, will work with Skype for Business. The screen was specifically designed as a collaboration device for meetings and rounds out Microsoft’s complete communications offering.
Clippy is Back! And Other Office 2016 Design Updates
Office 2016 will feature a darker theme and Clippy-style helper. Microsoft is slated to make other UI changes and feature additions, but the product is intended to look and feel like Office 2013.
Even small improvements can have a big impact on how users experience the product. For example, the new Office 2016 makes it possible to insert images into documents with the correct orientation already set. But these modifications will be subtle, and I can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that I won’t have to learn to use an entirely new system.
What do you think of the new Office 2016? Will you deploy the software at your business? Let us know what you think in the comments section below or tweet us @KabbageInc!