Microsoft Office 2016 allows you to easily share documents with friends and colleagues and work with others on the same document simultaneously while using the familiar and rich formatting options you have already mastered. Avoid sending attachments back and forth, trying to ensure that everyone stays up-to-date, or manually merging everyone’s edits into the final copy. For a seamless collaboration experience, use Office 2016 to keep content in one place with edits available for all collaborators to view.
Office 2016 offers a new feature, Real Time Presence, that allows desktop users of Office to view what their colleagues are adding to a file as they write it. Users will be able to work together live on the same SharePoint-stored document inside desktop applications. The apps have also been updated to make it easier for users to share files. Pressing the Share button in the ribbon automatically prompts a document’s author to save it to SharePoint, and then open a pane where they can invite other users to work on the file.
The look and feature set for Office 2016 applications are almost indistinguishable from their previous versions, easing the migration for Office 2013 users. Collaborating in the cloud sets Office 2016 apart, encouraging sharing documents online in a collaborative workspace. Printing out documents and marking them with ink now seems medieval. Even emailing copies back and forth is now tacitly discouraged.
While Word 2013 supported multiple editors on documents, propagating changes to others was manual: changes needed to be explicitly saved to the shared document, and then the document had to be explicitly refreshed to make those changes visible. For greater convenience, in Word 2016 that propagation is now live, avoiding the save then refresh process. Collaboration also has an improved interface, with a simple Share button in Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Skype for Business is also integrated, allowing an IM, voice or video chat to be quickly started with any collaborators.
There is a new feature for Outlook, called Groups, where Outlook users can create ad hoc user groups. These groups have: a shared inbox for communication, using replies at the bottom of each message that act more like a conversation log than an e-mail; shared calendars; and a shared OneNote notebook. Unlike traditional Exchange mailing lists and shared calendars, groups can be created entirely be end users with no administrative involvement.
Those features are part of Microsoft’s vision for the future of its productivity suite. Rather than focusing solely on features for individual document editing, Microsoft is pushing collaboration features that help people work together. To begin collaborating using Office 2016, visit this PC Magazine post.
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December 17, 2015: Collaborating with Office 2016