With Windows 10 clocking up a staggering 75 million installations within its first month, Microsoft can now focus on its other favourite child, as Office 2016 makes its debut. With Office 2016 for Mac, and Office Mobile versions for iOS and Android already being released, Office 2016 for Windows completes the set and brings a unified feel to the software thanks to the new visual design. In this feature we’ll gather together the things you need to know about when it will be available, how much it will cost, and what that money will buy you.
Office 2016 for Windows: Release date
Microsoft's Office 2016 for Windows will launch today, 22 September, when Office 365 customers will be able to download it as part of their subscription. You will also be able to buy it as a one-off purchase, although pricing has not yet been announced.
Office 2016 for Windows: Price
Pricing is still unknown, but you can expect a similar cost to that of current versions of Office 2013 and Office 365. To see the differences between the two packages you can read our Office 365 vs Office 2013 comparison.
You can buy a subscription to Office 365 Personal for £5.99 per month or an annual payment of £59.99, which entitles you to use Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, Access, OneDrive, and Skype on one PC or Mac and one tablet. The package also comes with 1TB of OneDrive storage, sixty minutes of Skype calls per month, regular updates, and customer support.
If you have more devices then there is also the Office 365 Home edition, which costs £7.99 p/m (£79.99 per year), offers the same benefits but covers five PCs and five tablets. The advantage of the Office 365 route is that when new versions of the suite are released (as in Office 2016) users receive the updates at no additional cost.
For those who want to buy the package outright there is currently the Office Home and Student 2013 edition, which costs £109.99 and features Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and OneNote. Business users can also buy Office Home and Business 2013 for £219.99, which includes the addition of Outlook and OneDrive, or the Office Professional 2013 version for £389.99 which adds in Access and Publisher.
Office 2016 for Windows: Features
So far, judging by the preview builds, there have been little in the way of major changes to Office in the 2016 edition. Visually it has had a facelift to bring it more into line with the Universal app platform that Microsoft has adopted in Windows 10. Each app is more colourful than before, with the ribbon and header now baring blue for Word, green for Excel, and so on. There’s a simpler, clutter free design which will lend itself well to tablets, smartphones, and touchscreen devices, alongside traditional Windows machines. That’s not to say that Office has been dumbed down, far from it, as the suite is as powerful as ever. Microsoft has focussed mainly on nip and tuck refinements, rather than loads of new features, but there are a few interesting new additions to Office this time around.
The Tell Me search bar that has appeared on the web app version of Office for a while now, makes its way to the desktop in Office 2016. This allows users to type in tasks they want to do and be presented with a list of relevant tools to accomplish them. Very handy when you can’t quite remember how to add an Umlaut to a name.
Insights is another useful feature in Word and Outlook, which can display additional, contextual information about any words or terms in your text. Simply highlight the word, right click, select Smart Lookup, and you’ll see articles, definitions, or other data pertaining to the subject. Search results are powered by Bing and link into Wikipedia among other sources.
There are also various improvements to sharing files through Outlook and other apps, the way version histories of documents are handled, and data security.
Perhaps the biggest addition to Office 2016 is Real Time Presence. This is the ability to work on a document simultaneously with colleagues and see, in real time, edits or additions that each of you is making. Google Docs has had this feature for a long time now, with some people using the platform specifically for this function, so its inclusion in Microsoft Word is a potentially huge deal.
Obviously nothing is definite until the final version is shipped, so make sure to return to this page for more details as 22 September draws ever closer. We’ll also have a full review coming very soon.