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Changes to UI overall appear to be minimal

Set to release alongside Windows 9 "Threshold", Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Office 16 recently quietly hit Tech Preview status.  Tech Previews are build candidates that Microsoft shares with a select group of trusted enterprise partners.

The Verge got some screen time with a copy of the software.  They report that overall the changes are minimal -- largely speed improvements and bugfixes.  

One small improvement is the inclusion of finer grain email download options for the Outlook 16 mail client.  In Outlook 2013, the smallest time frame that could be downloaded was one month.  Now you also have the option to only locally cache 1 day, 3 days, 7 days, or 14 days worth of email on your PC.  This could come in handy -- if you get a lot of email.

OneNote 16
OneNote 16

Word 16
Word 16

Powerpoint 16

Powerpoint 16
 
Excel 16
Excel 16

Outlook 16
Outlook 16

Publisher 16
Publisher 16

Another minor improvement is the ability to read camera metadata, which allows Office to orient the image in the same orientation at which it was taken.  Another modest tweak has been the return of the "black" theme, which had been introduced in Office 2010, but dropped in Office 2013.  Users can now pick between "black", "dark gray", "light gray", and white themes.

The biggest change that has people talking, though is the inclusion of the "Tell Me" helper, which is incorporated in the task bar.

Office 16 Tell Me closeup

Office 16 Tell Me
"Tell Me" is found to the upper right in the new Office 16 Ribbon.

The lineage of the feature derives from the beloved/loathed "Clippy" animated helper that was found in early versions of Office.  The less animated, "Tell Me" assistant first popped up in Office 365.  It allows users to ask natural language questions about features such as "how do I change the font?", "how to I add an image?", etc.  Basically it saves the user the hassle of reading and trying to parse the lengthy documentation of various Office apps, when it comes to many common tasks.

Office 16 Tell Me

Office 16 Tell Me
The new "Tell Me" assistant is seen here in action.

It's unclear whether "Tell Me" will be tied to Cortana, which is rumored to be integrated into new builds of Windows 9.  Microsoft has scheduled a press event for Sept. 30, at which it's expected to announce a Public Preview build of Windows 9.  We may find out more about Office 16 then, and perhaps even see a Public Preview of it, as well.

[All Images courtesy of The Verge]

Source: The Verge





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