Microsoft Office LogoA few weeks ago, I upgraded my desktop Microsoft Office suite by subscribing to Office365 Home. Admittedly my biggest motivation was the 1TB of OneDrive storage much more than the updated desktop software. Despite that, a few updates in the desktop software are almost worth $100 a year by themselves. Here are my favourite improvements in Office 2016:

Modern Attachments in Outlook 2016

My favourite feature of desktop Office 2016 is a seemingly small one in Outlook around the Attachments button. It has improved in two ways. For one, it automatically populates a list of recently opened files on your computer. If you were just working on a document to send somebody, it’s right there, without having to search through your file system. For another, it combines options for the old approach of sending attachments with sharing OneDrive or OneDrive for Business files. Sharing cloud files this way is much faster and less error-prone than sending attachments back and forth. This pair of changes looks small but has probably already saved me a couple hours of time in the past few weeks.

Desktop Co-Authoring

Co-authoring in desktop apps (Word and PowerPoint) is the most talked about feature that came with Office 2016. Admittedly it’s something I have minimal use of, although there are some people who I regularly share documents with in Google Docs primarily for the same feature (and because they already have Google accounts). I would consider this better than Google Docs because you get the full power of desktop Word and PowerPoint, at least assuming everyone involved is already using OneDrive – admittedly a big assumption.

Outlook Groups

Office365 Groups is a set of features throughout Office that has gained a lot of value in the past year. Creating an Office365 group allows you to have shared email messages, shared file storage, shared calendars, a shared OneNote notebook, and shared task management in Planner. This looks like it will be growing to be even more powerful in the coming months, potentially tying in with Yammer Groups, Tasks, and generally becoming more integrated with more elements of Office. This is fantastic since it really is how most organizations work within departments or committees.

Getting back to Office 2016, though, the big point here is that they are now integrated with desktop Outlook. This was pretty important to have those email messages and calendars in the same place you keep the rest of your messages and calendars. There’s also a new mobile app to have these with you anywhere.

Updated OneDrive for Business Sync Client

The old sync client for OneDrive for Business was terrible. That shouldn’t be toned down at all. I got errors on a regular basis, often with no details of what the problem is or even which file(s) was causing the problem. It was a monthly occurrence for me to have to repair or sometimes even completely reinstall Office to get it working again.

The new version works flawlessly. It’s basically the same as the consumer version, which has been great for me in a few years of use. You can add as many Business accounts alongside your personal account synchronizing as you want. I have had zero errors so far. It also brings in a few new features like being able to select only certain folders to sync to your computer. There are a couple of big holes, mainly not being able to do SharePoint or Groups libraries yet – you still need the old client for that right now, but it is on the roadmap.

Conclusion

There are lots of new features included in Office 2016. These are just a few of my favourites. You can check out the entire feature list from the Office support site, and feel free to comment some of your favourites below.