In the second half of 2015, Microsoft will release the next version of its Office suite, Office 2016. Office 2016 is being built on the same platform as Office 2013, so users familiar with the current Office 365 or 2013 editions will easily be able to transition to the new software. Microsoft has introduced several new features for users as well.

Based on feedback from current PSI clients, the most welcome change is going to be an updated user interface. Microsoft added additional Office Themes to 2016 aside from the 2013 choice of White, Dark Gray, and Light Gray. A new theme called Colorful adds a band of color to the ribbon, making it stand out when compared to the 2013 product.

Users will notice that Word displays dark blue color, Excel displays green, Outlook displays light blue, and PowerPoint displays orange. The options within the ribbon are also a dark gray color now.

Users who have Microsoft Hosted Exchange with Office 365 will have the ability to attach files from One Drive for Business directly to OWA (Outlook Web App), without the need to upload the file to the email message. You can also configure permissions for outside users to work and edit documents directly within your One Drive for Business repository.

Each application within Office will have now have several “smart” options to help with everyday tasks. Word, Excel, and PowerPoint have a new “Tell Me…” bar where you can search for commands by telling the application what you want to do. Outlook will also have a new feature called Clutter (powered by Exchange Online – required Microsoft Hosted Exchange and/or Office 365) that prioritizes incoming emails. Emails such as newsletters and other items you deem as low priority can automatically be moved to a new folder called “Clutter.”

PSI is currently evaluating an early edition of Office 2016 to be prepared for the release. Please note that these features are subject to change as the software is still in development.