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ATLANTA, GA. — Microsoft is releasing a number of significant updates to its Office applications at the Microsoft Ignite conference today. Included in the updates are new map chart types in Excel, an intelligent embedding feature for Word and Outlook called “Tap,” along with a new PowerPoint Designer and QuickStarter tools for enhancing presentations.

Excel Maps

Many Excel spreadsheets contain geographic data, but visualizing that data has required the use of external tools. With a new map chart type in Excel, users can now create visualizations at the national, state, county or ZIP code level directly in Excel.

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The map charts are powered by Bing Maps, and are created with the same process used to create line and pie charts. While a new feature for Excel, it appears that Microsoft has resurrected some of the capabilities that were in Microsoft MapPoint before it was discontinued in 2014.

Maps are coming by the end of 2016 in Excel for Windows desktops, Windows Mobile and Android, for Office 365 subscribers.

Tap for Word and Outlook

A new feature in Word and Outlook called “Tap” makes it easier to find and embed elements from other Office documents in an Outlook message or Word document.

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The Tap menu button will bring up a pane of results powered by the Microsoft Graph. These results are from documents, spreadsheets and presentations frequently used by you or your co-workers. With a single-click, items like images, slides, tables, graphics or charts can be quickly embedded into a document.

Tap is available today in Word and Outlook for Windows desktops, for Office 365 Enterprise E3 and E5 subscribers in First Release.

PowerPoint Designer and QuickStarter

QuickStarter in PowerPoint and Sway is a new tool to kickstart the creation of presentations. Using Bing search results and the Bing knowledge graph, QuickStarter will provide a curated outline for any topic, including recommendations on content to include.

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Enhancements to PowerPoint Designer also promise new ways to make presentations look great with suggested professional designs for a variety of text and slide types.

QuickStarter is available today for all customers in Sway on the web. QuickStarter is coming later this year in PowerPoint for Windows desktops.

PowerPoint Designer support for text is now available in PowerPoint for Windows desktops, for Office 365 subscribers in the Office Insider program. Support for text is coming soon to PowerPoint Designer for Mac, for Office 365 subscribers.

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