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Office 2016 Upgrade: Essential Things to Know

Office 2016 was released on September 22, 2015Office 2016 Banner, just over 2.5 years after the launch of Office 2013. If that seems quick, you may be surprised that schedule is about how frequent the last few versions of Microsoft Office have been released. While Microsoft has done a good job describing features in why you should upgrade to Office 2016, there’s not much practical advice about the business benefits or approach. The following points are essential things customers should understand about upgrading to Office 2016.

1. Different Strategy Going Forward

Just like the new strategy for Windows 10, Office is likely to be the next application where there will soon be only one core version of Office (but obviously different flavors for consumers and business). Office 2016 was also released first to Mac and then PC to offer unprecedented identical functionality on both platforms. The new paradigm for Windows (and likely soon Office) eliminates islands of old technology and the conflict of compatibility and change. Software bloat for backward compatibility and legacy support costs of old versions are eliminated. It may mean a more steady revenue stream for Microsoft, but the interesting wrinkle is the elimination of the learning curve and angst required to move to new versions of software.

2. Uninstall Previous Versions of Office First

Unlike other versions of Microsoft Office, Office 2016 does not uninstall existing older versions of Office. For this reason, it’s highly recommended to uninstall older versions of Office first to avoid confusion and conflicts. Previous settings in Office applications and recent file lists are not preserved.

If you went ahead and installed Office 2016 without uninstalling previous versions, you likely already noticed Office related icons on the launch pad are not updated and the old version of Office is the default application for opening Office files. From various installs, it’s our experience that you’ll eventually have to uninstall the previous version regardless as multiple versions conflict. After uninstalling the old version of Office, you must do a quick repair of Office 2016 to fix Office file associations or Windows will prompt to search for an App to open the file.

3. Good Incremental Improvements But Not A Must Do Upgrade

If you are an Office 365 customer, higher plans give you Office 2016 Pro Plus for free and Office 365 is still the cheapest way to buy Office for all customers. The risks in upgrading are low, once you take into account point number two above. The question you should ask is if this upgrade could save your staff 15 minutes per day in productivity (or about 100 hours per year).

Our favorite features that we feel have the most business impact are:

  • Type what you want to do using your own words and let Tell Me guide you through the process as well as offer additional resources.
  • Attach a document from your recent items and share them from OneDrive or SharePoint with email recipients.
  • Connect, combine, and refine data sources in Excel to meet your analysis needs using Get & Transform.
  • Fact-check or explore terms in your documents with Bing-powered Smart Lookup.

It seems like the options in the ribbon are continually changing and everyone benefits from quickly finding how to do unfamiliar or complex tasks. Most users like not having to browse to find documents to attach when sending e-mail. If you’re a number cruncher from various data sources, then the new Excel features give you fast and unique insights. Finally, not having to leave an application to lookup something on the web lets you concentrate more on content.

The points above are not earth shattering and you need to decide if you can gain that extra 15 minutes of productivity for each staff person. While older versions of Office 2007 and Office 2010 may technically run with Office 365, those versions are no longer supported by Microsoft (see Support Lifecycle) and business customers should be running Office 2013 or higher for best security, performance, and experience.

The video below walks you through Microsoft’s top six reasons to upgrade. Also see What’s new and improved in Office 2016 for more in-depth details.

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