Believe it or not, Office 2016 applications were released last month for some users on the Office 365 platform. Although new installations of the platform are available now under existing Office 365 for Business plans, such as Small Business Premium, Business, and Business Premium, most of the user base (i.e., those with the Enterprise plans) will begin seeing the new application set in the first quarter of 2016 and thereafter. Please see the Microsoft FAQ for a detailed breakdown of release information. There may even be some useful information on that page if you plan on diving into 2016 anytime soon.
The big buzz word for this edition of Office is “collaboration.” Indeed, more cloud features are included with 2016, and Microsoft is pushing cross-platform collaboration to the next level. The days of struggling to find the right application to open a Word document on an Apple device are long gone. The cross-platform push has completely changed how users can work in Office. Office 2016 provides opportunities to get work done on all devices and to share that work with anyone who is using a tablet, phone, PC, or Mac. The seamless switch from working on an Excel spreadsheet at the office on a desktop Windows machine to getting on a plane and opening and editing the same document on an iPad is flawless.
Sharing doesn’t stop with just sending documents to yourself. Much like Google Docs’ sharing and collaborating service, Microsoft has implemented this ideology into Office 2016. The co-authoring feature allows users to work on documents simultaneously using their own respective device (iOS, Android, Windows, etc.). This feature allows for real-time typing that lets users interact and see real-time edits. Sharing any document in Office is easy with the “share” button located in the Ribbon. This button allows for viewing, editing, and controlling who has access to the respective document.
It seems Google’s sharing and collaboration has greater competition now, and more of the market share may shift toward Microsoft’s Office 2016 solution. I am interested to see what Google does to improve their collaboration features in the near future to maintain more of the user base in its hands.