Microsoft appears more aggressive in rolling out new features to its Office line of productivity software. That is likely driven by two factors, the existence of cross-platform mobile apps that tend to be updated on a regular basis and the Office Insider program that gives the company a ready group of testers.
Now, we can rely on monthly Office updates that add new features and Microsoft has built a pattern of blogging about those new features along with its latest Office products. For March, the company released a new feature to Excel, some OneNote improvements, and better Visio integration.
First up is Excel 2016 for Windows, which is getting co-authoring support in the latest Office Insider Fast ring build to better enable teams to work together on crunching numbers. The feature lets users know who is already working in a spreadsheet and to make changes that are viewable by all co-authors within seconds. Excel co-authoring is already available for everyone using Excel Online and Excel for Android and Windows Mobile. Office for iOS Office Insiders have access to co-authoring and it is coming to Excel for the Mac as well.
Next is OneNote, which is receiving the ability to graph handwritten equations, as well as manipulate variables and see the effects immediately. The new equation-inking feature also helps students learn the steps required to solve equation systems. The new OneNote functionality is available in OneNote for Windows 10 for all Office 365 subscribers.
OneNote for Windows 10 is also getting an Accessibility Checker that will highlight issues that make content hard to use for people with visual impairments, along with recommendations on fixing them. Other OneNote improvements include the addition of Windows Ink support and a Draw tab to OneNote Online using Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Apple Safari, and Firefox. Both of these features are available for all users.
Finally, in terms of Office app improvements, Microsoft added new Excel and PowerPoint integrations to its Visio application. The new Data Visualizer templates make it easy to create flowcharts directly from Excel with just a few clicks. The new Slide Snippets pane lets users grab diagrams or snippets, add titles, and then export them as PowerPoint slides, complete with Morph transition support. The Data Visualizer feature is available in Visio 2016 for Office Insider Slow users, and Slide Snippets is available in Visio 2016 for all Office 365 subscribers.
Microsoft also highlighted the release of its Microsoft Bookings app for Office 365 Business Premium subscribers, which lets them schedule and management customer appointments. And Microsoft Teams also received its general availability, with the company specifically noting its availability for Office 365 Education users.
Office 365 continues to be an important business line for Microsoft and as usual, its monthly updates continue to ramp up productivity. You do need to be an Office Insider to be the first to make use of the newest features and you can sign up here.
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