Like many of you I am sure, I run my business using Microsoft Office. I find Outlook, Word, and PowerPoint to be my most indispensable tools; tools that I indeed use every day. Example: I am writing this review on Word, having just used Outlook to email myself the picture that accompanies this piece, and tomorrow I am giving a presentation using PowerPoint. So yeah, I am a big fan of Office.
Now yes, I found it a bit confusing when Microsoft introduced the Ribbon in Office 07, but I soon came to like the Ribbon very much. More recently, I made a seamless move to the cloud with Office 365, and as I mostly write on a Mac, I have been happily using and mastering Office 11 for a few years now.
Let’s just say up front that they nailed it.
So that was, among other reasons, why I was happy to get an invitation from my colleagues at Microsoft to attend an event in San Francisco where they were rolling out and demonstrating the latest upgrade to Office, Office ‘16. Let’s just say up front that they nailed it. What is especially true about this version of Office, aside from nice upgrades and looking pretty, is that it emphasizes collaboration and makes working virtually much, much easier.
Many folks think of Office as a set of four or five applications – Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint being the usual suspects. But for starters, just consider everything else you can get with Office these days:
OneNote: Sort of like Evernote, OneNote lets you gather notes (handwritten or typed), drawings, screen clippings, audio, whatever, and then share them with other OneNote users over the Internet or a network.
Office Lens: Office Lens trims, enhances and makes pictures of whiteboards and docs, and saves them to OneNote. You can use Office Lens to convert images to PDF, Word and PowerPoint files too.
Bing: Bing is well, Bing!
Skype: Skype has been incorporated into Office in a variety of cool and useful ways, as you will see below.
One Drive: A great place to store you data.
Wonderlist: Wonderlist allows you to create to-do lists and share them with people.
Sunrise: This is a suite of calendar apps that connects and combines with other calendar programs on other platforms.
By far, favorite of the new products in Office 16 is something called Sway. Truly (and I rarely say this) it blew me away.
Lets say you want to share some information with someone you need to impress. How would you do that? You could create a Word doc, right? Or maybe a PowerPoint would be more effective. I suppose you could even create a video. Here’s another option: Create a Sway. You will sway them for sure.
How do I describe a Sway? It is super easy-to-create interactive, multi-media page. With a few clicks of the button your boring Word doc pops and comes alive with YouTube videos, graphic artist quality graphics, pictures, graphs, color schemes, you name it. These would be great for e-books, whitepapers, reports, webpages, you name it.
Collaboration made easy
As I said, the key to the new Office is collaboration using the cloud. Share documents online. How about the ability to collaborate in real time on the same document at the same time? What about making a Skype call to the person you are working with on that same screen, as you work together, to discuss some of the finer points? Or maybe you would rather text on that page. That’s fine, do that. This sort of real-time collaboration can be found in new Word docs, in PowerPoint, Excel, and the calendar.
Outlook too is improved. A new attachment button lets you attach your most recently used documents quickly; a real time saver. Another improvement is that many attachments can now be shared simply as links. There is also a new “Clutter” filter and folder. Also, a new “group conversation” option might just clean up your inbox. Oh happy day!
My good friend Microsoft Word looks, happily, much the same, only better. The big change is something called Smart Lookup (or Insights) when you right click a word or phrase. You get the definition, and also Bing and Wikipedia info, and you can insert that into the document.