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Microsoft now lets anyone manage shared documents in Office 2016

Why it matters to you

If you like to share documents using Office 365, then you will appreciate the new Activity feed feature that keeps a record of a document's changes.

Storing your documents in a cloud service like Microsoft OneDrive can offer up a number of advantages. Documents stored online are essentially backed up, they are available on all of your different devices and platforms, and they can be easily shared with family, friends, and coworkers.

If you’re using OneDrive specifically, then you have access to some Microsoft Office-specific advantages as well, including built-in sharing functionality that works closely with Microsoft’s productivity apps. As part of January’s Office updates, Microsoft announced the general availability of the Office 2016 Activity feed that was once limited to OneDrive for Business and SharePoint customers.

More: If you only need basic Microsoft Office features, you can get a limited version for free

Sharing documents in OneDrive is a powerful collaborative feature that lets multiple users make changes to documents, even at the same time. Those changes are indicated within the documents themselves and it’s relatively easy for coworkers and others to collaborate on changes throughout a document’s lifecycle.

While that is a powerful feature, it also creates scenarios where one person might make a change to a document that the rest of a team, or the document’s owner, might not want to retain. The concept of version control can become a real issue when many people are editing documents. That is where the Activity feed comes in.

Basically, the Activity feed makes it easier to see the document versions that have been created by each person who accessed the altered a document. Users can open previous versions of documents and then easily restore them. All they have to do is click on the clock icon next to the Share menu item, and then choose which revision to view and restore.

By migrating this new feature from business users to general Office consumers, Microsoft is recognizing that it is not just larger organizations, and businesses in general, who need to be able to collaborate on documents. Everyone can benefit from collaboration and the company has just added a relatively sophisticated form of document sharing and control available to everyone.