Microsoft has updated the test version of Office 2016 with some changes in features.
Most likely, Office 2016 has been updated automatically, you can check from File | Account and make sure the version is 16.0.4201.1006 or later.
The most interesting part of the update are the new Excel charts.
We’ve devoted a separate article to the new Excel 2016 charts.
Live Typing is the latest extension to document collaboration that’s been around for the last few versions of Office. You’ve been able to save a document to OneDrive or Sharepoint and let many people open and edit the document at the same time.
With Office 2016 and the right combination of cloud storage you’ll be able to see other people editing the document at the same time. Until now Office has been limited to locking a paragraph being edited by someone else and showing all the people who are editing the document. Now you’ll be able to see the words added, changed or removed in real-time (or close enough).
It’s a clever trick. We’re not sure if that level of detail could be more distracting than useful. But it was bound to happen since Google already has real-time editing support.
As you might expect, there’s very specific requirements to let Live Typing happen. Eventually you’ll be able to use Live Typing with Office 2016 and Office Online (the web browser versions of Office). For the moment, all the editors need either Office 2016 or Office Online but not a mix of both. The document must be saved to OneDrive for Business (not standard OneDrive).
Tell Me has now been fully deployed across the Office 2016 programs. It’s an enhanced help system, which lets you type in questions and get a drop-down list of possible commands.
Most coverage focuses on the natural language element where you can type in full questions, which Office will try to figure out.
The big difference with Tell Me is in the drop-down responses. They are the actual commands themselves – if Tell Me has it right, you can click on command right there in the help, complete with fly-out options where applicable. See above where the Adjust Margins (From Page Layout | Margins) is right there, ready to use.
This is quick and handy but there’s a downside too. Tell Me doesn’t have a way of showing where the command is on the regular ribbon. Some users might end up returning to Tell Me since that’s the only way they can find the same command.
Tell Me has some way to go before it’s ready for public release. The feature would seem to be a good way for people to find the hidden Office features, in other words all those things listed in Customize | Commands not on the ribbon.
In our tests, Tell Me is limited to the visible commands on the regular ribbons. Even the ‘Speak Cells’ feature, once proudly demonstrated by Microsoft, is unknown to Excel 2016’s Tell Me.
Once questions move away from what’s on the ribbons, it’s curiously inept. For example, asking how to ‘move a column’ (a common enough action) leaves Tell Me at a loss.
Hopefully the database of commands and responses is greatly enhanced before the public release of Office 2016.
The encyclopedic links into Office, known as Insights, are now available in PowerPoint 2016 and Excel 2016. Insights was already in Word 2016 and Outlook 2016.
Under Review | Smart Lookup, Insights will open a pane with Bing results for the selected text/cell.
Click on the Define link within the pane to see a word definition, where applicable.
Equations from hand to computer
With more people having access to touch-screens and tablets, it makes sense that the Equation Editor gets an update. In Office 2016 you’ll be able to ‘write’ an equation and turn it into something nicely formatted for your documents,