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Office 365's October update brings 3D, Surface Dial and Surface Studio support

Microsoft’s Windows 10 and Surface teams stole the internet thunder on Wednesday with their introduction of the Surface Studio all-in-one desktop PC, as well as a slew of features coming in the Windows 10 Creators Update that’s set to arrive in early 2017. But the Office 365 team wants everyone to know that their favorite productivity suite is gaining some new goodies as well.

In fact, Office 365 apps are getting some exciting features even sooner than the rest of the gang, with a number of inking and other new functionality coming immediately in some cases, according to an Office blog post. The new features will provide a range of support for things like 3D, scalable vector graphics, the new Surface Dial, and more.

Enhanced Inking Support

New Ink Editor functionality was originally demonstrated at Microsoft’s Build 2016 event, and it significantly enhances Office 365’s support for inking. You can not only annotate documents with ink, but also use your pen to edit by putting a line through words to delete them, circling text to select it, and snapping the highlighter ink to text. More inking functionality will be added to the Ink Editor in the future, and you can start using the functionality today if you’re an Office 365 subscriber who’s also signed up for the Office Insider program.

Ink Replay is a new feature that allows you to rewind and replay inking in your Office 365 documents. Ink Replay is now available for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on the Windows desktop, along with OneNote for Windows 10. Originally announced in August, Ink Replay will support your new Surface Dial as soon as it arrives in November.

The Digital Ruler, which is used for aligning objects and drawing straight lines in PowerPoint, was also announced at Build 2016. The feature will be available to Office 365 subscribers for PowerPoint 2016 for Windows in early 2017. Word, Excel, and OneNote will eventually also receive the Digital Ruler.

Finally, the November Office 365 update for subscribers will bring a new Segment Eraser to PowerPoint on the Windows desktop. This new feature will make it easier to remove smaller bits of ink, as well as to remove multiple bits of ink at the same time.

Office innovations for Surface Studio and Surface Dial

One of the more interesting Office 365 features introduced at Wednesday’s Microsoft event was the new large-screen page view in Word 2016 for Windows. The new view makes it exceedingly easy to work on larger-screen devices like the Surface Studio and Surface Hub, allowing users to flip through pages in a two-page magazine-style layout. Pinch-to-zoom functionality allows for zooming out to more naturally navigate through long documents. Large-screen page view will arrive for Word 2016 for Windows in early 2017.

The new Surface Dial is an exciting little accessory introduced at the Microsoft event that works off-screen with Windows 10 Anniversary Edition systems and on-screen with the Surface Studio to offer up a new way to interact with creative applications. The Surface Dial can control things like Ink Replay, navigate screen elements when using Narrator, and advance slides and animations in PowerPoint. Surface Dial’s integration with Office 365 is available to desktop apps today for Office 365 subscribers.

Support for modern content types

One of the things that will arrive with the Windows 10 Creators Update is enhanced 3D support throughout the platform. Office 365 won’t be left out, as Microsoft will be supporting a variety of 3D content for presentations and documents. Morph transitions will be able to utilize 3D for animations, and the perspective of 3D images will generally be easy to manipulate using rotational handles optimized for all three dimensions. The 3D features will arrive for Office 365 for Windows desktops in early 2017, along with the Windows 10 Creators Update.

Finally, Office 365 apps can support scalable vector graphics (SVG), at least for Office 365 subscribers enrolled in the Office Insider program. SVG icons and images will be provided by Microsoft via a built-in library of quality content that are scalable without worrying about pixelation. Office 365 will support SVG graphics from any source, making it easy for creatives using Adobe Illustrator and other applications to plug their artwork into their documents and presentations. Office Mobile on Windows 10 and Android will receive SVG support in November.

Microsoft is leveraging a number of key technologies to make Office 365 a more viable productivity suite over the long term. From 3D to Surface Dial to leveraging the exciting new Surface Studio, it’s clear that the company is taking the “productivity solutions company” strategy quite seriously.