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The fact that a particular feature isn’t in a given update is no longer an implicit statement that it’s unlikely to appear until a major upgrade two or three years in the future. So far, the company has plugged away at improving the myriad components of the new multiplatform Office at a fair clip, suggesting that it’s committed to its new approach.
For folks who lived through the era of conventional mammoth software upgrades–me included–the new age of ongoing improvement requires a mental shift. Microsoft has already called Windows 10 the last version of Windows, by which it means that it plans to treat the operating system as a service henceforth.
Still, for all that’s new, Microsoft is still playing catchup with the collaborative editing features in Google’s browser-based apps, all of which have long offered real-time group editing as a principal feature.
Based on the bit of time I had with a prerelease version of Office 2016 provided to me by Microsoft, the real-time editing in Word is nicely done, which makes its absence in the other Office desktop apps all the more striking.
Since then, the company has released meaty freemium versions of Office for the i Phone and Android devices and turned Acompli, an excellent app it acquired, into the official version of Outlook for i OS and Android.
It also came up with the first versions of the Office apps for the Mac in a long time that feel like both full-blown Office and full-blown OS X apps.
Today, Microsoft is formally rolling out Office 2016, the new version of its productivity suite, also available as the Office 365 subscription service.
The big news is a bunch of new features designed to enable effortless collaboration in Word, Excel, Power Point, and other apps.
The versions aren’t all identical, but the interface makes sense across all the editions and every incarnation is solid in its own right.
And the browser-based Office apps originally had a vibe that suggested the company was afraid of creating anything that people might like too much, in case it led them to not buy the Windows versions.
Office started to tiptoe down its current, welcome path several years ago, but if you want to set an official moment when the sea change happened, you’d probably pick March 27, 2014, when Microsoft announced the long-rumored version of the suite for the i Pad.
It’ll evolve a little at a time, not in epoch-shifting reboots.
The company hasn’t declared Office 2016 to be the last version of Office.
For example, Google’s Docs, Spreadsheets, and Slides are terrific as browser-based apps, but their i Pad incarnations are still a tad stunted.