office 2016
Microsoft will launch Office 2016 Sept. 22. Pictured: A user demonstrates a touchscreen at the Microsoft Office 2013 launch event in Bryant Park, Jan. 29, 2013, in New York. Mario Tama/Getty Images

Next Tuesday, Microsoft will take the wraps off Office 2016 for Windows, three years after the last version dropped. But these days, with cloud-based office suites and mobile apps, why should you care? After all, your old copy of Word still writes documents just as well as it did yesterday, right? In fact, there are some very good reasons why you should be excited about this update.

Real-Time Collaboration

In earlier times, working together on a document meant making changes, sending the document to your co-worker, waiting for it to come back, then making more changes and repeating the process until done. Very tedious. Office 2016 solves this with something Office 365 and Google Apps users will probably be familiar with: real-time co-authoring. Now multiple writers can work together on one document, watching where the new edits are being made in real time.

Tell Me

The "tell me" bar is in many ways a revival of Clippy, the paperclip personal assistant. Only this time, it's a lot less annoying and slightly more useful. Users can type questions into a bar at the top of the ribbon, and Office will produce the relevant results. Not sure how to make a footnote? "Tell me" will tell you.


These are essentially Bing searches within the document. Conduct immediate web searches without getting distracted, focus for longer on what you're working on, and avoid messing up your work process with frustrating back-and-forth between windows.

New Charts And Graphs

The Office suite has updated its analysis tools with a whole range of new ways to get the most out of your data sets. One of the most interesting is the expanded range of graphs and charts. These include Box & Whisker, Histogram & Pareto, Sunburst and Waterfall. Anyone looking to model their data in new ways is sure to be accommodated for.

The above is just a sampling of the new features coming to Office on Windows, but it goes to show that this isn't a humdrum upgrade to a stale office suite. Microsoft has come up with some useful ways to get stuff done quicker and more efficiently. Time will tell whether the company has a hit on their hands, but the signs are there that Office 2016 will be a welcomed upgrade.