Microsoft Office 2016 will be incorporating features like file sharing and collaboration, which seems to be inspired by such features on Google Docs. The preview version of Microsoft Office 2016 shows that the upgrade will simplify file sharing platform, and also provide real-time collaboration (co-authoring) as two of its main features. Microsoft officials have informed that the company has more than a million testers in its Office 2016 beta program for Mac and Windows. The testers were given access to the future version of Word, after the company released support for real-time co-authoring and collaboration on documents.
One speculation is that the feature and user experience could be similar to Google Docs. The testers would be able to use the newer updates that will be added in the forthcoming weeks. The new feature has been named ‘Real Time Presence,’ and will be a part of Windows 2016. It will show multiple users in real-time, the changes being made to the document by their colleague. The feature will be made available to the users of OneDrive for Business. It was confirmed by Kirk Koenigsbauer, Vice President, Microsoft Corporate, that the updates and access to the feature will be made available to other users soon.
Real Time Presence will let desktop users of Microsoft Office 2016 view what their colleagues are adding or deleting to the file as they write it. It is said to be a precursor to Google Docs feature of Real Time Typing. Microsoft Office 2016 will be incorporating features like file sharing and collaboration, which seems to be inspired by the same kind of features on Google Docs. Presently, Microsoft’s web-based Office Online offers the feature of real-time co-authoring. However, it will be the first time that users will be able to work collectively at one time inside desktop applications. It was shared that after the final release of Microsoft Office 2016, users of desktop computers will also be able to work collectively and live with users of Office Online, on the same document.
One important requirement for users to access the co-authoring feature is that the documents need to be stored in SharePoint or OneDrive. The simultaneous and real-time editing works only between desktop users or web users, and those working on different platforms cannot mix and work collectively for now. The application to make file sharing platform easier has also been updated. A click on the ‘Share’ button found in the Ribbon, will automatically prompt the author to save the document in SharePoint or OneDrive. After saving the document in cloud storage, it will open a pane from where the author of the document can invite other users to work collectively on the file.
These two features are an integral part of Microsoft’s future plans and vision for its productivity suite. Instead of focusing only on features that allow individual document editing, Microsoft is working on collaboration features that allow people to work collectively. As mentioned earlier, this real-time collaboration feature is one of the outstanding features of Google Apps, which incorporates Google Docs. In recent times, due to its user-friendliness, features, and free availability, Google Docs has given a tough competition to Office 365 and Office Online.
The preview version of Microsoft Office 2016 has received many other upgrades like Insights for Office. This feature uses contextual clues from the document being composed by a user, and offers more information about the phrases or words that are highlighted. This feature can only be accessed in Outlook and Word for now, but will be made available in other Office applications like Excel, PowerPoint, etc. The exact release date of Microsoft Office 2016 has not been revealed yet, though it has been informed that it will be out this fall, and will incorporate features like file sharing and collaboration, which seems to be inspired by such features on Google Docs.
By Ankur Sinha
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