Microsoft Launches a More Collaborative Office 2016 for Windows

The latest edition of the company's productivity client software for Windows places a premium on teamwork and secure content sharing.


As promised by Microsoft earlier this month, Office 2016 for Windows is available for download today.

Describing the new version of Office 2016 as "a perfect pairing with Windows 10," Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Office Client Applications and Services, said today's release of the productivity suite "marks a milestone in delivering new value for Office 365 subscribers with a focus on collaboration," in a Sept. 22 announcement. "It also marks a new model for delivery, where subscribers can expect to get more frequent updates with new features and improvements."

In an example of how cloud computing has reset expectations concerning software applications, particularly among enterprises, Microsoft has revamped practically its entire software ecosystem to fit into the "as-a-service" mold. Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system, for instance, is being billed as "Windows as a Service" to reflect a continual, cloudlike update cadence.

For Office 2016, Microsoft is incorporating many of the collaboration features the company has been honing in its Web-based Office apps into the client applications.

"With this release, we're making co-authoring in Word real-time, which lets you see what others are writing immediately, as it happens," stated Koenigsbauer. "We're committed to expanding real-time co-authoring to each of our native apps and you should expect to see more over time."

Office 365 Groups can now be accessed in Outlook 2016. "Office 365 Groups allows individuals to easily create public or private teams. Each group includes a shared inbox, calendar, cloud storage for group files, and a shared OneNote notebook to keep the team productive," Koenigsbauer explained.

Skype for Business, formerly Lync, is also now accessible via Office 2016. In its latest iteration, the enterprise communications software offers faster screen sharing and "the option to start a real-time co-authoring session from any conversation or meeting," he added. Office Online will gain the same capabilities this fall.

For enterprises, Office 2016 includes several new capabilities including built-in data loss prevention and multifactor authentication support. Early next year, the company will be enabling Enterprise Data Protection (EDP) for secure content collaboration in Office for Windows desktop, he added.

Also in the works is Office 365 Planner, a project-management facilitator that will be made available to Office 365 First Release customers in the fourth quarter. "Planner's visual dashboards and email notifications help keep everyone informed on the overall progress of their initiative," Koenigsbauer said. GigJam, the task-centric collaboration app Microsoft debuted at this summer's Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Orlando, Fla., is also set for release at part of Office 365 next year.

A more guided experience awaits for Visio 2015 customers, who "can get started quickly with diagramming using starter diagrams and contextual tips," boasted Koenigsbauer. Meanwhile, Project 2016 users can use the software's new visual heat maps, multiple timeline support and enhanced add-in capabilities for more customized resource management workflows.

Although Microsoft released Office 2016 for Mac for Office 365 customers earlier this summer, the company used today's Windows-focused launch to launch the non-subscription alternative. "As promised in July, today Office 2016 for Mac will also be available as a one-time purchase," Koenigsbauer stated.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...