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At its enterprise-focused Ignite event in Chicago today, Microsoft unveiled a new public preview of its omnipresent Office software for Windows and gave more insights into some of the new features.

Following the limited technical preview rollout of Office 2016 for Windows last month, Microsoft has now also opened this prelaunch phase to anyone with Microsoft Office on their Windows PC. The full, final version of the software will rollout later this fall.

While Microsoft Office users could already access collaborative co-editing features within Office Online, similar to Google Docs, with Office 2016 this feature is now coming to the desktop too. Kicking off with Word, users will be able to work on the same documents at the same time, and see updates from other users in real time.

Edit Office

Above: Edit Office

Related to this, Microsoft is looking to blur the lines between desktop and cloud by letting Office 2016 users save and sync their documents to the cloud directly from their desktop. This means that if someone is working on a Word, PowerPoint, or Excel file from their laptop’s desktop, they can easily pick up where they left off on any other device through direct cloud integration.


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Elsewhere, Microsoft is also touting “smart applications” that learn from your actions as you work. For example, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel have a new search feature called “Tell Me” that gives context-based commands for what you might want to do next, while “Clutter” for Microsoft Exchange analyzes your email patterns in Outlook to “de-clutter” your inbox. It surfaces messages it deems to be of a higher priority, while filtering other messages into a new “clutter” folder.

Microsoft has also given a glimpse of what else to expect across the Office suite, including one-click forecasting and new data-modeling and analysis tools via Power Pivot in Excel.

As Microsoft prepares to launch its new hybrid mobile/desktop Windows 10 operating system this summer, the company is adopting more of a cross-platform mindset to increase its software’s stickiness.

Last week, Microsoft revealed four new Windows Store app types as it looks to help developers port their apps over from other platforms, including from Android and iOS. And now, by connecting the desktop-based version of Office more tightly with the cloud, it becomes more appealing to those who also work from other devices, including iPads.

Last month, Microsoft also lifted the lid on Office 2016 for Mac, which is available to download now for free as a preview. In addition to full Retina support, the Mac version also sports tight integration with the cloud, giving users access to their files “anytime, anywhere, and on any device.”

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