Microsoft Office 2016 Arrives, Office 365 Updated - InformationWeek
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Microsoft Office 2016 Arrives, Office 365 Updated

Sept. 22 marks the worldwide release of Office 2016 for Windows, with a new delivery model and apps designed to pair with Windows 10.

8 Microsoft Office Alternatives
8 Microsoft Office Alternatives
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Today marks the global launch of Office 2016 for Windows. Microsoft is also announcing new and enhanced services within Office 365 and the availability of Office 2016 for Mac as a one-time purchase.

The latest version of Office has been redesigned for Windows 10 optimization, improved collaboration and tighter security. All apps within the Office suite have been updated, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Access, Project and Visio.

"The way people work has changed dramatically, and that's why Microsoft is focused on reinventing productivity and business processes for the mobile-first, cloud-first world," said CEO Satya Nadella in a Sept. 22 statement.

Microsoft Office has traditionally been the go-to tool for productivity but lacked the necessary tools to help people work together. The desktop apps and online services have since been updated to make collaboration more of a core priority.

[Microsoft Band 2: Is A Curved Screen Coming?]

The real-time co-authoring feature, which has been a component of Office Web apps since 2013, has been included in native Office apps. Now if a group of employees is working on a Word document, for example, they can view one another's comments as they are written.

Skype for Business is now available across the Office client apps so you can chat, screen share or video chat directly from your document, or start a co-authoring session from any conversation. Skype is coming to Office Online later this fall.

Tell Me and Smart Lookup are two more capabilities that have made their way from Office Online to desktop apps. If you're looking for a specific Office feature or command, Tell Me will interpret your request to help you find the tool you need. Smart Lookup delivers information from the Web right into your documents.

Some new features are specific to certain Office apps. Excel 2016, for example, now has modern chart types to make the most of your data and integrated publishing to Power BI.

Outlook 2016, another example, automatically removes low-priority mail and ensures that recipients have the correct access to OneDrive cloud attachments. Office 365 Groups are now integrated into the Outlook client app and available on mobile devices via the Outlook Groups app for iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

Business customers benefit from additional security features for Office apps. Built-in Data Loss Prevention cuts the risk of leaking sensitive data and multifactor authentication helps ensure secure access outside the corporate network. Microsoft promises later this year it will enable Enterprise Data Protection, which will allow sharing of secure corporate content across apps and cloud locations.

(Image: Microsoft)

(Image: Microsoft)

Updates to Office 365 include Office 365 Planner, a tool teams can use to record new plans, organize and delegate plans, and update one another on their progress through visual dashboards and email updates. Planner will be available in preview starting next quarter, Microsoft reports.

Project GigJam, first announced earlier this year, is also available in preview starting today. GigJam provides a new means for teams to accomplish tasks by eliminating the barriers among devices and apps. Microsoft promises GigJam will fully join Office 365 next year.

Some more new tools we can expect include Office 365 Groups insights and discovery in Office Delve, personal work analytics in Delve, additional charts and formulas for Excel, expanded presentation capabilities in PowerPoint, and the availability of Office insights from Cortana.  

Office 365 subscribers can download the new apps through their Microsoft accounts. Not a subscriber? You can sign up for Office 365 and access the upgraded Office tools in addition to future updates as they are released from Microsoft. As part of their subscription, which starts at $7 per month for a Personal account ($10 for Home), Office 365 customers will receive new features and capabilities in Office desktop apps.

Alternatively, you can pay a one-time fee for the retail version of Office 2016, which is compatible with Windows 7 or later. The price starts at $230 for Office Home & Business 2016 and goes up to $400 for Office Pro. 

The standalone purchase option has also been made available for Office 2016 for Mac, which was released in July 2015. Microsoft is delivering on the promise it made this summer and making the newest version of Office for Mac available as a one-time purchase of $230.

[This article was updated on 9/22 to include pricing details.]

Kelly Sheridan is Associate Editor at Dark Reading. She started her career in business tech journalism at Insurance & Technology and most recently reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft and business IT. Sheridan earned her BA at Villanova University. View Full Bio

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Paul Stregevsky
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Paul Stregevsky,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/24/2015 | 12:23:58 PM
Re: SoftMaker Office 2016 is a good alternative for a reasonable price
I'm a huge fan of SoftMaker Office for a single user. But since it can't support Live Typing and hence real-time coauthoring, it's a nonstarter for my organization.
ChadB
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ChadB,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/23/2015 | 12:18:24 PM
Re: Office 2016 uninstalls ODFB
@gevens - I just installed Office 2016 and it updated my One Drive for Business as well - I even have access to all our Sharepoint Site Documents as well - all is there and working - We are on Enterprise plan - but wanted you to know that it works on my computer.

 
Sandworm
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Sandworm,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/23/2015 | 10:40:34 AM
SoftMaker Office 2016 is a good alternative for a reasonable price
Have you tried out SoftMaker Office 2016? It's available for less than one third of the price of Microsoft Office 2016 Home & Business, but includes 3 licenses instead of one, plus regular updates and free technical support.


My experiences are very positive since I use it. It includes TextMaker (word processing), Presentations (presentation builder) and PlanMaker (spreadsheet) which open and save Word (doc/x), Excel (xls/x) and PowerPoint (ppt/x) files generally without a glitch - data transfer is excellent, never had any problems going back and forth. Additionally, SoftMaker Office 2016 includes an enhanced version of Thunderbird for e-mails and tasks, and a macro language called BasicMaker.


The range of features is comparable to Microsoft Office, you won't miss anything. ZThe user interface is similar to that of Microsoft Office 2003 (good old menus, no ribbons), but looks friendlier and has several modern extensions included. I prefer it over ribbons.

 
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
9/23/2015 | 12:50:14 AM
pricing
Office 2016 will end up very soon on piratebay with those prices.

I read that there's an Office Home & Student 2016 version @ $150. Less than the $230 for the Home & Business. But still...

Which version has Publisher now? I have a headache trying to understand all these versions plus 365.
Kelly22
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50%
Kelly22,
User Rank: Strategist
9/22/2015 | 4:47:34 PM
Re: how much?
had to do a double-take on that one. It has the same apps as Office Home & Business 2016 (word, excel, ppt, onenote, outlook), but at that price I'd sooner subscribe to Office 365.
Thomas Claburn
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50%
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
9/22/2015 | 4:43:54 PM
how much?
$230 for the standalone version of Office for Mac 2016? That seems a bit steep.
gevens
100%
0%
gevens,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/22/2015 | 12:16:44 PM
Office 2016 uninstalls ODFB
Beware that if you install Office 2016 it removes One Drive for Business. Microsoft has today confirmed to me that there is currently no ODFB software for Office 2016 you use Office 365 Business Premium. They also kindly sent instructions on how to roll back to Office 2015. So, don't upgrade if you want to use Office 2016, Sharepoint document Libraries and One Drive for Business - because you can't.
isiel
50%
50%
isiel,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/22/2015 | 9:10:06 AM
free for students
Hope they will give it free for students.
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