One of the most notable upgrades, at least for Excel users, is the addition of a handful of new chart types. Available in the latest preview build of Office 2016, the six new Excel charts are Waterfall, Histogram, Pareto, Box & Whisker, Treemap and Sunburst.
"These six new chart types provide a rich new set of storytelling tools in Excel, Word and PowerPoint that enable you to do more with your data," said Microsoft's Excel team in a July 1 blog post. "Additionally, each chart can be customized to fit your specific needs with the intuitive design tools you are already familiar with in Excel. Use these features to change style and layout of the chart, add chart elements, like legends and data labels, and fine-tune the fonts, colors and effects."
The six additional charts offer new ways to represent data beyond the typical pie and bar charts. Color-coded Treemaps, for example, allow users to explore large data sets at a glance.
A bookstore owner may want to know which genres and sub-genres are keeping the cash registers ringing. "The Treemap chart is an ideal visualization for this purpose because it provides a hierarchical view of your data and an easy way to compare different levels of categorization," wrote the Excel team.
Resembling a patchwork of rectangles, each representing a node, a Treemap chart helps users quickly compare data points. "The size of each node, marking a sub-genre, represents the total revenue of all books under that category."
And more charts are on the way, teased Microsoft.
"After the release of Office 2016, expect to see even more innovative chart types added to Excel through your Office 365 subscription," said the staffers. "As part of the modern Office experiences, we are committed to providing the best in class visualizations for data analysis and storytelling."
On the document collaboration front, real-time typing has been added to Word, announced Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Office Client Applications and Services. "You can see where others are working and what they are typing as they type it. To try this, save a document to OneDrive for Business and invite your colleagues to join you in a simultaneous authoring session," he blogged in a separate post.
Microsoft's Bing-powered Insight feature that aids in gathering online research is now available in more Office applications. "Last month we delivered Insights in Word and Outlook, and we just brought it to Excel and PowerPoint," Koenigsbauer revealed. "Fact check or explore terms without leaving your spreadsheet or presentation. Just right click any word or phrase and select 'smart lookup.'"
Other new features include the addition of Tell Me, a command search function that employs Microsoft's natural language technology, to Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook. Finally, Office can now convert handwritten equations to text in Word, Excel and PowerPoint.