Microsoft officially released Office 2016 for Windows this morning — attempting to retool its productivity suite for the modern era of online collaboration, and aiming to shift more users from traditional software licenses to annual subscriptions.
New features include Skype integration, better support for groups, new data visualization tools, built-in web search capabilities, and real-time co-authoring in Microsoft’s desktop Word software, so that members of a team can see live edits made by their colleagues working on the same document.
Microsoft has offered this co-authoring feature in its web apps since 2013, but the company is “committed to expanding real-time co-authoring to each of our native apps,” says Microsoft Office exec Kirk Koenigsbauer in a blog post outlining the new features.
Office has expanded well beyond Windows in recent years with the availability of Office apps not only for Mac but also for iOS and Android. Still, the company is pitching Office 2016 as unique on Windows, including a promise to make its Cortana virtual assistant more helpful by integrating with the Outlook email and calendar software to retrieve key documents prior to an upcoming meeting.
With the release, the company is also making a big push for Office 365 annual subscriptions, promising more frequent updates with new features for people who subscribe. For home users, Office 365 costs $70/year to $100/year, depending on the number of licenses. Office Home and Student 2016 costs $150 as a one-time purchase. Monthly subscriptions are also available.
Microsoft released Office 2016 for Mac in July.