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What Does Office 2016 Mean to a Small to Medium Business?

by Bob A Samuels

posted in Computers and Technology

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Microsoft Office 2016 became available on September 22nd. Any business considering upgrading should consider a number of factors.
Do I need to upgrade yet?
How disruptive is an upgrade?
Do I pay for an upgrade license or is this my driver to move to Office 365 and pay a monthly fee from now on rather than upgrade fees every few years?
As a small business owner myself, and a provider of technology services to small businesses, I thought of several relevant questions and then did some playing around on a number of devices to find out the answers.
How different is the user interface?
The interface has had an aesthetic overhaul to give it more of a Windows 10 look and feel, which is fine, but overall the actual functionality and how it is laid out has not changed much at all. This is a good thing for you and your staff.
The main changes are based around collaboration between people, especially when tied to Office 365. Office, once very much a solo effort set of tools, is now a set of tools geared towards team effort, or at least it's beginning to head that way. Documents can be shared from within the application, worked on together, and co-authored, with the ability to see real time typing by a collaborator as they edit a document you are working on together. The experience is a bit variable depending on which application you use, though.
Let's take Word as an example. Save the file online (e.g. to OneDrive for Business), click on the Share button, which opens an invite box, select the people you want to share with and away you go. You then have a lot of control over who can and can't do what.
With PowerPoint, you can also share a document but have very little control over what your collaborators can and can't do, and viewing changes in real time is problematic. Microsoft will provide feature updates as time passes, I'm sure, so that the user experience becomes more consistent across applications.
In Outlook, you can mail a link to the file in OneDrive, rather than attach the actual file, and you can use Outlook Groups to create collaboration teams with shared communications, shared file locations and a shared calendar. I plan on using this last one a lot.
The "Tell me what you want to do" search tool has now been added to all but OneNote and Publisher (unless I'm being dense in those two cases). It is a much more intuitive and useful tool than Office Help has been in the past and this will greatly help your staff figure out how to do things they've not done before in an application.
Two new applications, Delve and Sway, have been added.
Sway is a means to create web based content from both a number of existing sources and also newly created for the Sway itself. I plan on playing with this a lot and writing up my experiences separately from this article, as it is an interesting venture from Microsoft and deserves its own focus of work beyond this article. I can see it being very useful in telling a story to a customer or to other parts of your organization.
Microsoft refers to Delve as kind of an electronic business card where you can see details about yourself or a colleague and the documents you or they have worked on. I use it as a means to access documents quickly without needing to remember their folder location on your computer or within OneDrive for Business, but I suspect that there is a lot more to it than that. I think this one deserves some playing with separately, and some thought as to how to use it to get the most value. You can for example, search for a topic and see if there are documents out there in the company that are relevant to that topic, and useful content can be pinned to different boards, like Trello, if you've ever used that.
How well does Office 2016 run on an entry level device?
I run Office 2016 on a super cheap, but new, laptop containing a 1.7 GHz Intel i3 processor, with 4 GB RAM, running Windows 10 Pro, and Office runs just fine, no worse than Office 2013.
How easy is the upgrade process to implement?
Since I'm on Office 365 for Business, incredibly easy. Office 365 using Click to Run to install which means that once you start the process, there's nothing else to do except wait for it to finish.
I expect that an upgrade via install media is equally straightforward, although I'm assuming that based on my experience of installing Office 2013 from downloaded media, before I joined Office 365.
Are any features going away?
Not as far as I could tell.
So should I upgrade or not?
In conclusion, the upgrade would not be too problematic for your staff to handle, but there also aren't any large incentives to upgrade just yet, unless you already have Office 365 I which case, have at it.
About the Author: Bob Samuels, Co-Owner of EntellaTech
As an experienced technology professional and small business owner, Bob focuses on technology news as it affects small to medium businesses. He has worked in IT for over twenty years and still loves how a new technology can shake up an existing industry and help with the invention of new industries. To see how Bob's company can help your business with its technology needs, visit http://www.entellatech.com today.

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