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I think you will agree with me when I say:

It’s REALLY difficult to upgrade Microsoft Office Upgrade to Office 2016 for Free Today with Your Office 365 Subscription Upgrade to Office 2016 for Free Today with Your Office 365 Subscription Microsoft Office 2016 for Windows has landed and it brings many smart new features. If you have an Office 365 subscription, you can get it now for free and we show you how below. Read More every few years.

That’s usually how it always goes with new software and smarter features. But it’s a different thing when every seventh person in the world uses Microsoft Office and so do 83% of the Fortune 500 companies. Yes, Microsoft Office 2016 is now out in the glare. And its time you considered upgrading.

But do you need to?

Well, you can arrive at that decision in the few minutes it takes to read the 13 main reasons.

The First Change You Will Instantly Spot

Different colors. Actually.

Microsoft Office 2016 introduces Colorful which is the default theme and each app gets a different color. Word is dark blue, Excel is green, PowerPoint is orange, Outlook is light-blue, and OneNote is purple. That helps to alleviate the whitish monotony of the previous versions.

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Microsoft Office 2016 - Themes

As always, you can change the color to any among the three choices from File > Account > Office Theme.

Pro Tip: If you have visual problems, the high-contrast Dark Grey theme The Dark Side of Windows 10: Set a Theme & Change Colors The Dark Side of Windows 10: Set a Theme & Change Colors Windows 10 is so bright, it can cause eyestrain. Setting a dark theme is a simple way to give your eyes a break. We show you how to theme Windows 10 and its most commonly... Read More could be an eye saver.

Labels on the Ribbon tabs are now in title case. These are two little changes and hardly one that will convince you to switch to the latest version. But it’s nice to make a pleasant beginning before we get to the heavy features.

Get More Done with Some “Tell Me” Assistance

Remember Clippy 7 Signs You Are a Seasoned Windows User 7 Signs You Are a Seasoned Windows User Windows has been around for longer than a lot of you have been alive. Do you know the trivia to prove you're a long time Windows user? Let's see what you remember. Read More ?

For those who have felt lost among the endless options in Office, the Tell me what you want to do is Clippy’s smarter cousin. Notice the little bulb icon in the middle of the Ribbon. It is intelligence personified – you just have to tell it what you want to do. No digging for commands or shoveling through the Help file.

Tell me what you want to do

Type what you want to do in the Office program and the little genie not only shows you how to do it, like a help feature, but let’s you do it directly from here.

For instance: if you want to adjust line spacing, but don’t know how to do it, just type it in the little field. The line spacing options are displayed in an eye blink.

This feature is available across all programs in Office 2016 except OneNote. Maybe, they will include it in the next update but for now the feature makes Office mastery easier and tasks swifter. Even though, I can’t say it came back perfect when I tried it with the obscure commands in Office.

Pro Tip: Alt + Q is the new keyboard shortcut How to Find Every Microsoft Office Keyboard Shortcut You Could Ever Need How to Find Every Microsoft Office Keyboard Shortcut You Could Ever Need Finding a complete list of keyboard shortcuts can be a chore. Let Word automatically generate a list of all of its shortcuts! You'll find keyboard shortcuts for other Office applications, too. Read More you have to learn now.

Collaborate and Co-Author in Real Time

If collaboration isn’t real time, it isn’t collaboration in the true sense. Collaboration wasn’t real time in Microsoft Office 2013 (via OneDrive) and it suffered when compared to Google Drive Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: The Death Match for Research Writing Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: The Death Match for Research Writing Online solutions are becoming the norm. We decided to see how Microsoft Word stacks up against Google Docs. Which one will do the better research paper? Read More . The missing link — real time co-authoring — is now the core feature of Office 2016. Team workflow Team Working: 10 Tips For Effective Real-Time Online Collaboration Team Working: 10 Tips For Effective Real-Time Online Collaboration Read More is more productive as you can now instantly see what your team members are doing in a Word document or a PowerPoint presentation.

Notice the Share tab on the extreme right of the Ribbon. You will be prompted to Save to Cloud. You can save it on a OneDrive shared folder or a SharePoint location. Invite others and give them access to either view the file or edit. Team members can also open the document in the free Office Online Don't Pay For Word! 5 Reasons You Should Use Office Online Don't Pay For Word! 5 Reasons You Should Use Office Online Office Online is the free and cloud-connected version of Microsoft Office. Limitations are compensated by features, useful even to users of desktop Office. Best of all is its Read More – they do not need the desktop Office suite.

MS Office 2016 -- Collaboration

The co-authors receive an email invite and as soon as they join, you can see their profile pictures in the Share panel alongside the document. With real-time typing, watch what others are working on and view their edits as they happen. Office locks the edits so that you can’t work on the same part. That’s a tiny feature, but it is sensible when multiple people are working on the same document.

Microsoft Office 2016 - Real Time Edit

Also, notice the change in the Save icon in the top right.

Save Button in Office

Office also retains versions of previous edits in the History section of the File menu. The Microsoft Office Blog explains how to share with a click of a button.

Pro Tip: With Office 2016, you can share a OneNote notebook with anyone you want. Add documents, images, videos, worksheets, or emails and a notebook can be a single-click container for group projects.

Visualize Data Better with New Chart Types

Word, PowerPoint, and Excel get new chart types that help to visualize raw data with neat diagrams 8 Types of Excel Charts & When You Should Use Them 8 Types of Excel Charts & When You Should Use Them Graphics are easier to grasp than text and numbers. Charts are a great way to visualize numbers. We show you how to create charts in Microsoft Excel and when to best use what kind. Read More in easier ways. Data is moving towards richer storytelling 4 Data Visualization Tools For Captivating Data Journalism 4 Data Visualization Tools For Captivating Data Journalism Words and numbers are not enough. In the end, visuals will capture and convince your audience. Here are the tools that will help you turn your data into something great. Read More and you will need all the tools you need. New chart types include Treemap, Waterfall, Pareto, Histogram, Box and Whisker, and Sunburst.

How useful are they? Very.

An instance: A Treemap chart can be used to display a high level view of your data. With the right color coding your eyes can spot the patterns and proportional differences between different sets of data. You can get a bird’s eye view of large data sets easily, without becoming mired in the confusing individual items. For example, compare the population densities of all U.S. states.

Treemap Chart Type in Excel

Of course, a chart can only be as good as the data it represents. But with the multiple charting options now available, Microsoft Office 2016 gives you more ways to work with the data. Earlier, an extra add-in would have performed a similar function.

Visit the Office Blog to learn more about the modern chart types.

Pro Tip: In Excel 2016, use the Quick Analysis button (right-click context menu) to display a preview of the recommended chart as per your data.

Handwrite Equations Quicker with Ink Equations

Working with math equations is easier in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint now. Go to Insert > Equation > Ink Equation. For touch-enabled devices, you can use your finger or a touch stylus to write math equations by hand. You can also use the mouse in the Write box. The Office software converts it into text.

Pro Tip: The equation editor has a Select and Correct option if Office fails to recognize the symbols. Draw a marquee around the symbol and choose from one of the alternatives provided.

Go to Smart Lookup for Extra Information

Highlight a term and use the Bing-powered Smart Lookup in Office 2016 (Insights) to bring in search results from the Web. A sidebar opens on the right side of the apps with search results from various websites like Wikipedia. You can drag and drop the information into your authoring environment.

Microsoft Office 2016 -- Smart Lookup with Bing

Pro Tip: In Excel, select a cell with a formula and use Smart Lookup to understand its function with the description Bing brings up.

New Features in Microsoft Office Apps that Make a Difference

There are some specific features exclusive to the apps in the Microsoft suite. Here’s the short look.

Microsoft Excel 2016

Power Query Goes Native

Power Query is a business intelligence tool that is available as an add-in in Microsoft Excel 2013 and 2010. It also works with only PowerPivot in Excel Professional Plus. With the arrival of Query in Excel 2016, the two obstacles have been removed. Access Query from Ribbon > Data > Get & Transform > New Query.

Power Query in Excel

With the time grouping enhancements in Pivot Table, Excel 2016 is now head and shoulders above any free Excel alternatives 5+ Cross Platform Excel Alternatives for When You're out of Office 5+ Cross Platform Excel Alternatives for When You're out of Office Worried about your Excel files when working from home or making the switch from Windows to an alternative operating system? Relax! Here are your cross-platform Excel alternatives. Read More for business intelligence tasks. Gavin introduces you to a short tutorial on how to use Pivot Tables How to Use an Excel Pivot Table for Data Analysis How to Use an Excel Pivot Table for Data Analysis The pivot table is one of the single most powerful tools in the Excel 2013 repertoire. It is frequently used for large data analysis. Follow our step-by-step demonstration to learn all about it. Read More for data analysis.

Better Forecasting of Time Series Data

From linear forecasting available in earlier versions, Excel 2016 gets a one-click button for exponential forecasting of a data series. Go to Ribbon > Data > Forecast Sheet.

Forecast with Excel 2016

Exponential smoothening of your data could be better for approximating trends when compared to linear regression.

Cool Geospatial Visualizations with 3D Power Maps

The Power Map tool is now called 3D Maps and built into Excel 2016. Use it as an advanced business intelligence tool by visualizing any geospatial data that you have already brought into Excel with Power Query and combined with Power Pivot.

Excel 2016 - 3D Map

Microsoft PowerPoint 2016

Record Your Screen with PowerPoint

Seamlessly record any process on your screen with a new screencasting tool in PowerPoint. Go to Ribbon > Insert > Screen recording. Capture the part of your screen with audio and insert it directly into your presentation in a one-click process.

Screen recording with PowerPoint 2016

You can stylize it with the many video style presets. Crop the video to the size you want. PowerPoint also allows you to save the video file on your desktop for use outside the suite.

Share Better with Conflict Resolution

This is a neat feature which helps you avoid conflicts by observing the changes made by each collaborator – thanks to a side-by-side visual comparison. Choose the slide with the changes you would like to keep.

Microsoft Outlook 2016

Read Important Emails First

A smart email management feature learns your inbox behavior and removes low-priority messages to a special folder called Clutter. You can also sort them manually and review them later. Clutter needs an Office 365 subscription to work with Office 2016.

Move to Clutter

Quicker File Attachment

Email workflow is accelerated when attaching files just works. Outlook 2016 makes it easier to attach recently opened files from the menu.

Microsoft Office Outlook Attachment

You can also set file permissions on the attached files. Share them as View only or allow edits so that recipients can work together on shared cloud files on OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, or SharePoint. By default, recipients have permissions to edit.

The Best Reason to Upgrade — Work Anywhere and Anytime

Microsoft has made smart and subtle changes with Office 2016 A Microsoft Office 2016 Preview: Smart & Subtle Changes A Microsoft Office 2016 Preview: Smart & Subtle Changes Office 2016 for Mac was just released and the Windows version will follow in the fall. We show you the new look and features of the world's most popular productivity suite. Will you upgrade? Read More . It is not a radical makeover from the previous version. For casual users, older versions will do the job as well as before because a standalone purchase of the desktop suite could be a wasteful spend.

When you work in a team then upgrading to Office 2016 makes better sense.

From an individual productivity tool, Office 2016 has planted a solid foot in the cloud and collaboration arena. Simpler document sharing and co-authoring could alone change your idea of productivity. Co-authoring is now a feature of the desktop apps – linked Office apps, Office Online, and Office 365 turns it into an on the go productivity hub.

Office 2016 Collaboration

For teams, the best deal could be an Office 365 subscription An Introduction to Office 365 -- Should You Buy Into the New Office Business Model? An Introduction to Office 365 -- Should You Buy Into the New Office Business Model? Office 365 is a subscription based package that offers access to the latest desktop Office suite, Office Online, cloud storage, and premium mobile apps. Does Office 365 provide enough value to be worth the money? Read More which gives you the desktop, mobile, and cloud bundle. But you have to be cloud and mobile ready to take advantage of the new enhancements. With the subscription model, you will benefit from the automatic future updates that will roll in. There are lots of updates to look forward to.

New updates like GigJam could be pushed out in the near future. Then, there are some other features I haven’t covered like Outlook Groups which is available with an Office 365 work or school account. Or Skype for Business which is useful for group chats.

Where do you see yourself in the Windows universe? Working on one PC or working on multiple devices? Working alone or working with a team? For the latter, Microsoft has given you sufficient reasons to upgrade. Will you? Tell us.

Image Credits: looking upwards by EDHAR via Shutterstock

  1. Simon R
    July 5, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    We moved our rapidly-expanding company from Google to Office 365 this spring, first thing we noticed was calendars only come in 9 colours! We have many users needing to combine 20+ calendars. Frustrating, lot of work and effort to move over, retrain users, set up Outlook etc. Outlook 2016 for Mac is old-fashioned looking and lacks ergonomic functionality. Not easy to back up user preferences without backing up all the mail and data - we don't need to back that up, it's already on multiple cloud servers, so extra strain on bandwidth and expensive storage.

    • Jason
      September 20, 2016 at 11:32 pm

      Excellent post, please try mskeyoffer(doc)com to get one license for activation?

  2. not-a-365-fan
    March 17, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    There are a couple of features the discourage me from 2016.

    Grammar checking. I am dismayed that no one in the media has picked on this in the last 6 month since GA (or even during the trial period).

    Word 2010 has 34 user selectable grammar options. Word 2016 has only 9 selectable options that control 24 rules. But there is no clear definition of what rules each of the 9 options controls.

    Office 2016 QAT buttons were initially fattened up from 2013, which was phatter than 2010. 2016 showed about 1/3 fewer buttons than 2010. So for people with a lot of QAT buttons, 2016 was a disaster. In Feb 2016, MS finally reduced the button sizes back to 2013.

    The new color schemes tend to wipe out the QAT buttons. If you compare what you can see in the QAT buttons in the White scheme and the various color schemes you'll see many buttons turned into white outlines. All of the buttons have less detail than 2010.

    The 2016 Ribbon uses more vertical space than 2013 or 2010, to make it "more touch friendly". That is nice for smartphones and tablets that you can use in portrait orientation, but a problem for everyone else using laptops and desktops with landscape monitors.

    The "tell me" feature is nice, but unfortunately it is a dumbed down version of the MS Labs Search addon tool. The Search addon gave you the option of displaying the path to the found command, which gave you the option of learning where the actual command is located rather than permanently depending on the tell me.

    You mentioned the ink equation feature. Too bad no one in the media picked up on the fact that in the Feb updates, MS switched all pens from selection mode to default ink mode. And they didn't provide any simple way of switching back. Many tablet users who depended on their pens for selection complained that their devices were effectively useless because of this unannounced change.

  3. fcd76218
    March 1, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    Is MS Office 2016 capable of reading correctly documents created by older versions of MS Office?

  4. Steven
    January 14, 2016 at 6:46 am

    I have a question:
    Is this heavier than Office 2013? Because Office 2013 was way heavier than Office 2010, and I hated that!

    • Saikat Basu
      January 14, 2016 at 12:09 pm

      Heavier or lighter does not equate to "smarter" or "quicker" always when it comes to software. For info's sake, Office 2016 and 2013 Professional are around 1GB downloads.

      • Steven
        January 14, 2016 at 4:10 pm

        I understand. Heavier or lighter does not matter to me when it comes to powerful desktops or laptops, which I do have. But, do you think that Office 2013/2016 would work well with a netbook (I know it's old hardware, but I love using it).
        Specs:
        EEE PC 1005 HAB
        1.6 Hhz Atom Processor
        2 GB RAM
        Please, let me know.

        • Saikat Basu
          January 15, 2016 at 2:30 pm

          It does fulfill the minimum requirements of 1GHz and 2 GB of RAM (for 62-Bit). 3GB of strage space.

          If you have a copy, then you can always try and see if you can multitask with it.

        • Kal
          October 24, 2016 at 5:15 pm

          I have similar specs and for office, you may find 2010 a better load on the netbook than 2013/16...

  5. Max Conrad
    December 18, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    Just so people don't make a stupid decision, everyone should know that color coding for email & calendar events are not supported anymore. Microsoft has decided that color coding as a productivity aid is stupid and you don't need it. Microsoft is trying real hard to become Apple and this is what happens. No choice, just get on your knes and obey.

    • Saikat Basu
      January 2, 2016 at 4:54 am

      Really? Well, Calendar does have a nine color pallete in 2016.

      • Simon R
        July 5, 2016 at 12:44 pm

        9 is not enough. We need to at-a-glance see availability of 5 meeting rooms, boardrooms, heads-of-department, leadership team members, TC's, PM's, BA's, engineers, etc. etc. All day every day. Google was easy for this, automatically assigning colours to the calendars. This has hindered management, communication etc. I like O365 as a business administrator scaling out a rapidly-growing company, but the colour issue seems strangely convoluted with the ability to choose any colour for an event but calendars themselves only able to pick up one of 9 colours.
        Getting a lot of flak from most staff about this. Glad I am leaving the company.

  6. ed
    December 8, 2015 at 7:22 am

    How do I make the theme tie in with windows 7 - it looks different to everything else and ugly

    • Saikat Basu
      December 8, 2015 at 8:34 am

      The "blues" look just fine in my opinion. And if not, you can mix-match with the principles of complementary colors.

      • Ed
        December 8, 2015 at 9:18 am

        It looks like a 5 year old designed it

  7. Paul Burgess
    October 30, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    Unless you really need something special in Office, why not save the money and use LibreOffice instead. I have not used MS Office for some years now and do not miss it. No-one complains about documents I send and I can always read what I receive. One big advantage is that spreadsheets, documents etc. are all shown in the Window of each other; they are not separate applications. You can open a spreadsheet from a text document.

    • Saikat Basu
      November 1, 2015 at 7:32 am

      Not a problem with that Paul. It depends ultimately on what you do with the software, not what it does for you. That's the basc rule isn't it -- WHAT WE NEED.

      LibreOffice is very good now after the latest batch of updates. Plus, the fact that is free. One thing I like about it is that it has a portable version and its ecosystem of extensions. If I am not wrong, it does that have a touch screen version and a cloud version is in development.

    • Raphael
      July 25, 2016 at 4:26 am

      Do you know what LibreOffice Calc is like compared to Office VBA? I use a lot of heavy VBA for Word and Excel...

  8. Xing Zhang
    October 30, 2015 at 2:43 am

    Yeah, except it does not support Endnote X7

  9. John Shiffler
    October 29, 2015 at 10:07 pm

    @Stuart Taylor, the file extensions stay the same but I've had a few .docx files from Word 2010 that required conversion to 2016 (not sure why...)

    Also, PDF editing in Word is a god-send...'nuf said!

  10. Stuart Taylor
    October 29, 2015 at 11:46 am

    How about the file extension of each ms office software Saikat?

    Will it reamins the same, or it will create new extension?

    Regards,

    Stuart

    Contributor at http://Morethanwaiting.com

    • Saikat Basu
      November 1, 2015 at 7:34 am

      Didn't understand your query exactly Stuart. File extensions stay the same.

      • Farooq
        July 27, 2016 at 11:05 am

        Stuart means to say will there be any change in .DOC, .DOCM or .DOCX?

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