We just got a closer look at Microsoft Office 2016, and here are the features we're most excited about

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Windows 10 eventAPMicrosoft CEO Satya Nadella

Microsoft just announced that it’s bringing its new version of Office that’s optimised for tablets and phones to the Windows 10 Technical Preview for Windows Phone.

This means you’ll be able to see exactly how Office 2016 will work on Microsoft’s mobile devices by the end of the month.

And, at the same time, we’re getting a more in-depth look at all of the new features in Office 2016 that will span across phones, tablets, and desktop/laptop computers, too.

The Technical Preview is a very early version of Windows 10 that gives Microsoft’s commercial clients and businesses the chance to try out the new software. The Technical Preview usually precedes the Consumer Preview, which launches more closely to the software’s final release.

Microsoft is calling these new mobile apps “universal apps” because they work the same on both smartphones and tablets.

After seeing a detailed demo of Office 2016 and trying it ourselves, here are some of the most interesting things we found:

  • The version of Microsoft Word that’s optimised for phones and tablets is much easier to use on smaller screens. Microsoft has moved the blue ribbon that includes all of the menu options to the bottom of the screen instead of the top, so that you can easily reach it with your thumb. This will probably make it easier to read and edit documents while using your phone with one hand.

  • One of my favourite new features in the mobile version of Excel is that the Functions menu looks much cleaner. As soon as you tap the Functions field, an easy-to-read drop-down menu with all of the available functions appears.

  • The new “Tell Me” feature in Word for the desktop also seems really useful. It’s not just a help feature — it actually performs actions for you, instead of just telling you how to do them. So, for example, if you want to add a strikethrough to a specific word or phrase but don’t know how to do it, you could just highlight the word and type “strikethrough” in the Tell Me field and it will take care of it for you.
  • Attaching files to emails also seems much easier in the new version of Outlook. When you add an attachment, it will automatically pull up the most recent files you’ve worked on across any Office app regardless of where it resides on your computer.

  • The new “Insights” engine in the desktop version of Word 2016 helps you look up information on the web more quickly. All you need to do is highlight a word, and the Insights engine will fetch information and resources about that particular subject from the Internet.

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