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February Office 365 updates

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Today’s post was written by Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office team.

February has been another busy month for releases across our Office clients on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. There are a number of exciting new capabilities in Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. In addition, we released the first cumulative feature update since the initial September release of the Office 2016 apps—otherwise known as the “Deferred Channel” build—for our commercial customers. Read on for the details.

Enhancing the Office experience on mobile devices

We’re continuing to make Office on mobile devices even easier, more natural, fluid and contextual, so you can use Office to do more, faster, with whatever device you have in your hand.

  • Annotate with ink on Windows tablets—Last month we discussed the evolution of the inking experience in Office. Now you can use your pen, finger and the new tools in the Draw tab to naturally write, draw and annotate in Word, Excel and PowerPoint Mobile on Windows tablets (available initially to Office Insiders).

February Office 365 updates 1

Review and comment on documents with your pen or finger—no printing required.

  • Pin your docs to the Start menu on Windows phones and tablets—It’s even easier to pick up where you left off by pinning your favorite documents, spreadsheets, presentations and notes to the Windows Start menu. Get going in just a couple of taps!

February Office 365 updates 2 - BLOG

Pin your documents to the Start menu to get going in one tap.

  • Insert images using the camera on your phone or tablet— Office apps are now integrated with your device’s built-in camera, so you can capture images, crop and insert them directly into your documents on Windows and Android phones and tablets. This is available now in PowerPoint for Office Insiders and will be coming soon for Word and Excel.

February Office 365 updates 3

Capture and crop images directly into Office apps using the built-in camera on your Windows and Android phones and tablets.

February Office 365 updates 4

Box integration is now available in Word, Excel and PowerPoint on iPhone and iPad.

Boosting Excel with more functions, charts and sharing options

We added more ways to manipulate, visualize, and share your data with Excel. New functions make it simpler and faster to build common calculations, and improved Formula AutoComplete helps you find the function you’re looking for (click here for more information). The launch of Excel 2016 brought you new chart types, such as Treemap, Sunburst and Waterfall. Now we added the Funnel chart for Windows desktops, tablets and phones, as well as Android, enabling you to display data in progressively decreasing proportions. Learn more here.

February Office 365 updates 5

The Funnel chart helps you display data in progressively decreasing proportions.

We’re also making it easier than ever to share what you work on in Excel with others. Excel is now more integrated into the Power BI service. This means you can now pin your workbook’s rich formatted charts and graphs directly to your Power BI dashboards and interact with them from anywhere—giving you even more options for telling your story through data. (Read more here; Power BI subscription required.)

Pin your Excel workbook’s richly formatted charts and graphs directly to your Power BI dashboards.

Outlook improves connections with Office 365 Groups and adds one-click Archive

Outlook 2016 helps you stay connected with your Office 365 Groups by providing integrated access to your team’s shared inbox, shared calendar, OneNote notebook, OneDrive and more. Now we’re making it even easier for commercial Office 365 customers to browse, join and create Office 365 Groups right from within Outlook 2016. We’re adding a new Groups section to the ribbon with easy entry points to browse and join Office 365 Groups. Suggested Groups offer one-click access to relevant Groups you might like to join, personalized based on information in the Office Graph. You can also create new Groups from the ribbon.

February Office 365 updates 7 - BLOG

It’s even easier to browse, join and create relevant Office 365 Groups from within Outlook 2016.

We’re also introducing an Archive capability in Outlook 2016 that lets you quickly move messages out of your inbox and into another folder. This will allow you to triage your inbox with an experience similar to archiving in other email services like Outlook.com. Archive is rolling out to Outlook 2016, coming soon for Outlook for Mac, and available today in Outlook on iOS, Android and the web.

February Office 365 updates 8 - BLOG

Archive is coming to Outlook 2016 to help you triage your inbox more quickly.

Office for Mac updates

Office has addressed key customer feedback with improvements and new features for Office for Mac.

  • Morph is now part of PowerPoint for Mac—Morph is one of the latest PowerPoint tools that helps you create stunning presentations quickly. The Morph transition effect helps you easily transform and move several objects at once across slides. Get started here.

February Office 365 updates 9

The Morph transition effect is now available in PowerPoint for Mac, and the Quick Access Toolbar in the top-left is now customizable.

  • Customize the Quick Access Toolbar – In response to a top user request, Word, Excel and PowerPoint for Mac now allow you to customize commands in the Quick Access Toolbar. Pick your favorite commands (such as New, Print or Save) to show at all times in the top-left corner. Get started here.
  • Faster updates—Office for Mac users who stay current can now download just the latest incremental changes since the last release. This means faster downloads of smaller update packages, with download sizes to drop even more in the coming months.

We’ve seen over 150,000 downloads of early builds of Office for Mac apps through the Office Insiders program since initial availability last month. If you haven’t joined yet, opt in to the Office Insider build from the Microsoft Auto Update (MAU) tool on your Mac. To learn more about Office Insider on Mac, go to Office.com/Insider. Follow the updates and get Office Insider support @OfficeInsider on Twitter.

Office 2016 build now available for commercial customers in Deferred Channel

We are releasing the first Office 365 Deferred Channel build, which is effectively the September 22, 2015 release of Office 2016 with four additional months of security updates included. Deferred Channel allows commercial customers to elect to receive cumulative packages of new Office features three times a year, instead of in monthly updates. This can be helpful for taking extra time to validate add-ins, macros, custom line-of-business applications, etc. Customers on Deferred Channel can get the new build of Office 2016 in the Office 365 User Software Page as well as the Office CDN.

You can learn more about what’s new in Office 2016 and Office for Mac. If you’re an Office 365 Home or Personal customer, be sure to sign up for Office Insider builds to be the first to use the latest and greatest in Office productivity. Commercial customers on both Current Channel and Deferred Channel can also get early access to a fully supported build through First Release.

—Kirk Koenigsbauer

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47 comments
  1. The archive button is nice (just tried it in OWA), however we have online archives for most of our users. When I click the archive button, it does not archive to my online archive, but rather asks to select a folder in my main mailbox to archive to – and my online archive is not an option?

    • Hi Craig, the one-click Archive is a command to quickly move items from your inbox without the need to delete them or pick a specific folder; they are simply moved to the Archive folder. Like any other folder, the Archive folder contents count against your mailbox space, shows up when searching your mailbox and can sync with other Outlook clients. For our Exchange enterprise customers, we also offer Online Archive as you mentioned. Online Archive provides “bottomless” storage outside the primary mailbox via a compressed file. Online Archive can include any folder, including the Archive folder, and completely removes those items from the primary mailbox for the purposes of managing space.

  2. I just uninstalled Outlook on my Android because it was killing the battery. Having a 3rd party email and calendar app is NOT my preference, but I get 3-4 more hours/day now. Crazy!

    • Hello Mitchell, that is unexpected behavior. Outlook for Android should not be draining the battery as you describe. Please contact support in the app so that they can help you troubleshoot. Thanks!

  3. Looking forward to pinning docs to my Win10 start menu. I already have build 16.0.6568.2025 but it isn’t in there yet, and just checked and it says I have the latest insider build.

    Same with Outlook Groups tab and Archive feature.

    • Hi Ed,

      We are glad you like the pin to Start feature!
      The Pin to Start feature is available for the Insider builds of Office apps specifically for Windows tablets and phones. It looks like you are using a build of Office for Windows Desktop.

      To test Pin to Start, and to receive Insider builds of Office apps for Windows tablets and phones, you can opt in through the Widows Insider program. Here’s more information on how to join: https://insider.windows.com/

      To find out the build numbers for our latest release to Office Insiders for Windows tablets and phone, check out this post by one of our Office Engineers: http://aka.ms/m5lc1r.

  4. Does the Deferred Channel release now include Computer Shared Activation so we can install it in RDS deployments?

  5. Hi Kirk,

    As you may know, you’ve indicated seven (7) months ago that Microsoft is committed to bring support for RTL languages in Microsoft Office for the Mac, and that Microsoft was working through timing and would communicate its plans when it has a clearer sense of the timeline.

    The point is; we, as 365 subscribers, have not heard any update regarding the matter ever since. I’m not quirt sure if Microsoft considers this a pressing issue for many of its 365 users, who have to go through the hassle of working in RTL documents in a daily basis. We’re reminded about it every time we encounter it, and we remember your statement about Microsoft commitment to bring the RTL support. However, some of us think that seven (7) months is such a long time to just come up with a timeline plan, giving that Microsoft already has the tools and knowledge of getting this done, as previously has with different Operation Systems, such as; Windows, iOS, Android.

    Your response is highly appreciated.

    Regards,
    Meshal

    • Hi Meshal, we are in the final stages of adding support for RTL languages in Office for Mac. Please look out for an update in the coming months and watch here on the Office blog or @Office on Twitter.

  6. Excited about Archive but: Works great for me on web and iOS, using Outlook.com and business O365 accounts. However, can’t get it to work in Outlook 2016. The Archive button is not showing on the Home tab in the ribbon. Using “Customize the ribbon” I can see it in the Delete group on Home, and I can move a copy to a custom tab but it is grayed out and inactive.

    • Hi @Rainer – Which Office 365 plan do you have? And can you share your build #? (You can find this under “File > Office Account > Office Updates”). If you can’t see the Archive button yet, it is likely that you are not yet updated to the latest build.

      • My previous reply didn’t seem to have posted, so let me try again.

        I have tried two systems:

        First is an academic E3 plan, I believe. Build is Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus #16.0.6001.1061. Update Now does not show me any updates. Archive button is not showing at all.

        Second is an personal Office 365 Home subscription. Build is Microsoft Office 365 Current Branch #16.0.6568.2025. Archive button is available but grayed out, regardless of whether a message is in an Outlook.com or an Office 365 business account.

        • I’m having this same problem.
          I’m running:
          Outlook 2016 – build 16.0.6001.1068
          Office 365 ProPlus
          Enterprise E3

          My archive button is not in the “Delete” group as advertised. If I add it to a custom group, it is greyed out. I can’t find ANYTHING online – other than this blog – which even references this problem. I’m really hoping you’ve found a solution.

          • Never heard back from anyone at Microsoft. In the meantime I tested it on a third system, same (negative) results. At this point I consider this capability broken.

          • @Joe and @Rainer: thanks for providing the details on your builds. 1-click Archive is in the build currently rolling out, which follows our process of releasing first to Office Insiders (for consumer customers) and First Release (for commercial customers), prior to rolling out generally to all customers. For both of you, if your organization’s admin has not opted into First Release, then that new build will not yet show as available to you. @Rainer, if your personal Office 365 Home subscription is enrolled in Office Insider, please try again to refresh for updates and you should be able to update to the latest build including 1-click Archive.

            For more information on the process of rolling out new features, please check this article: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/How-do-I-get-the-newest-features-in-Office-2016-for-Office-365-da36192c-58b9-4bc9-8d51-bb6eed468516?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US

  7. Is this the update that broke Sent Items for aliases and if so, when will this functionality (as has been used since Outlook 2007 at least) be repaired?

  8. Whatever you did to Outlook has completely ruined my experience in two ways. 1. There is a horrible cursor lag now, I type really fast and the cursor cannot keep up and it is driving me crazy. 2. My POP account I share with co-workers now deletes emails from the server every time I read the email. I have checked every setting to leave a copy on the server, extended it to 100 days and it still does it. I have tested it extensively, uninstalled it, tweaked it, no matter what I can see it is me deleting the email. I can open the webmail application, my co-workers report getting the emails. Once I open Outlook as soon as I read the message and delete it, poof its gone from the webmail app. I am beyond frustrated!

    • I’m having the same issue with the cursor lag. Has anyone figured out how to fix this? Outlook is almost unusable in this state.

      • @Jeff – see my answer to Randy. A fix is on the way!

    • @Randy – Thanks for reporting these. We are working on a fix for both of these bugs.

      For the POP issue, see this support article for a workaround: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3145116.

      For the cursor lag, this happens when there is an inline image in a signature. This is planned to be fixed in the early march update. For now, you can remove the inline image temporarily to fix this.

      Stayed tuned, fixes are on the way!

  9. Kirk,
    With this latest update, the pen automatically inks in excel, and I can not use the pen to choose a cell. How do I go back to using the pen to choose a cell ? it looks like auto annotation is now default. How do I change it ?
    Mike

  10. Kirk,
    Outlook related.
    How come we can not double click an x/l attachment in outlook to open an x/l or word file , or may be any other attachment, and have to go to a two or three step way of using a drop down list to open an attachment. I thought the whole idea was to make things more efficient, and not add more steps.
    Mike

    • Hi @Mike – If you are using Outlook 2016, double clicking on any Office attachment (Excel, PowerPoint, Word, etc.) will open it directly in the corresponding Office application. A single click will open the file in the in-Outlook Office preview viewer. This was unchanged from the past few versions of Outlook. If this is not working for you, you may want to do a repair. Go to Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Programs and Features and select Office 365, then Change.

  11. The addition of cloud based connectivity is fantastic! Been waiting for this!!

    But, I check my File->Open page and I don’t see the options for DropBox -or- SharePoint on my Windows Mobile phone 10.. Where can I see this like above?

    How can I open files especially from SharePoint online, I haven’t been able to figure this out.

    Looking forward to a response!!

    • Okay since I didn’t get a reply maybe my question isn’t clear…

      In Windows mobile I open Word and select Browse and I am presented with a few options: Recent, This Device, SD Card, and OneDrive, but the file that I want to open is on either sharepoint OR dropbox since we use both. In the above picture there is a window that says: Add a place.

      How do I get there in Windows Phone? How can I add a link to DropBox and some of my sharepoint links? The sharepoint should work since this is all Microsoft environment, I just need to be pointed in the right direction.

      Thank you

      • Hello? Is there a reason why newer questions are being addressed and this one isn’t? Is the question about why I cannot seem to access MS SharePoint and Dropbox with Office in W10M not addressable? Please respond to a loyal user of your products?

        • Hi Michael, the picture and information above refer to functionality specifically available in Office apps for iPhone and iPad. More generally, the Cloud Storage Provider Program discussed above currently enables cloud storage providers like Dropbox and Box to connect their services only to Office Online and Office for iOS. Office apps on Windows Phone 10 browse storage sources in a different way, using the Windows File Picker to access and browse files in other apps that you have installed on your phone. For example, Dropbox has an app for Windows Phone, so after installing it, you should be able to browse to it from within an Office app to open a file. For your documents stored in SharePoint or OneDrive for Business, if you’ve worked on them before on another device, they will automatically be accessible from the Recent list within the particular app on Windows Phone 10.

          • Hi David,

            Thank you for addressing this question, I updated the DropBox app and the picker is working as you mentioned.

            However, the issue with SharePoint is still unresolved and the workaround doesn’t seem practical. I can’t always open a file somewhere else just so that it will show up on my recent files list. I would like to add the SharePoint link like the above screenshot that you say is iOS. Why do you offer opening unreferenced files in iOS and not for Windows phone? What is the plan going forward to resolve this so that we can open files directly on WM10 ?

          • Michael, thank you for your feedback about wanting to browse SharePoint files similarly on Windows Phone as you can on iOS. We are continuing to make regular updates to Office apps for Windows Phone as well as the other platforms. In the meantime, you can use the Recent files workaround and you can also open SharePoint files from the mobile browser or via a hyperlink as well. Please feel free to leave additional feedback and suggestions at any time on our UserVoice page, where we continue to monitor and engage in order to address customer requests: https://office365.uservoice.com

  12. Hi there, this is about the DRAW tab,

    I’m using Office 365 on my notebook (Windows 8.1) and on my desktop computer (Windows 10). I don’t get to see the DRAW tab (or ‘ZEICHNEN’, as it is called in my German version) on my desktop even though it is available and selected under FILE -> OPTIONS -> RIBBON (terms may vary as I’m ‘guessing’ the correct English expression). It appears on my notebook, though. This holds true for Word and Excel as well as Powerpoint.

    The notebook has a touchscreen whereas the desktop, obviously, doesn’t. I’d still love the DRAW features, though. How can I enable them?

    Thank you.

    • Hello Matthias, the new Draw tab currently only appears on touch-enabled devices. We are working to enable it for non-touch screen devices (such as your desktop) within the next few months.

  13. I am using Office365 Business Premium on MSFT’s own OS- Windows 10 (not on iOS, or Androids!), and I am very disappointed by the last Office365 update to ver. 16.0.6568.2025.
    Apart of what Randy Green described about the horrible cursor lag in Outlook (still no bug fix from MSFT till now, after more than a week!), the Save/Save-as (in desktop apps Word, Excel, PowerPoint) has become a real pain. No more possibility to pin recent places, the File name and location fields (on the Save-as screen) are mall-functional. For example it is useless to change the file name in the top right field (where autosuggestion comes in), since it is all gone if you press More options… afterwards.
    Moreover, Add a place in the Save-as screen does not allow you to add a place from the local machine, and not even a Dropbox location. It is all limited to Office365 SharePoint and OneDrive, which both are horrible slow when you hit SAVE button.
    Does anybody test these updates for functionality/bugs BEFORE releasing them forcefully?!
    Disappointing!

    • Completely agree with the post above. Where did my recent folders go??? I”m working on multiple projects and switching between folders and now I have to navigate rather than having that information easily available. Not helpful and inefficient. This was not an upgrade nor does it make sense!!

  14. We are using Outlook in cached mode (latest 3 month are cached locally). However, after installing this update, the link for accessing older e-mail at the bottom in all mail folders is missing! The only way to access older e-mail now is web, which isn’t really user friendly. Now I’m rolling back to the previous version. Pretty annoying!

    • Thanks for the comment @Aart – to find additional mail, you will need to expand the cache to a larger timeframe or do a search. Search (if you are using Office 365 or Exchange 2016) will search across all items in your mailbox.

  15. Very unhappy with the new Save As dialog in Word. Trying not to be overly dramatic, here, but it has single-handedly ruined the program. Is there any way to bring back the previous version?

    For the record, I don’t enjoy Microsoft pushing out significant interface changes without approval or notification.

    • Add me to this opinion. Not only does the Save As update add more steps to do anything, it takes forever to load.

  16. Updated to Office2016 today, using a Surface Pro3 and spent the last 2 hours on the phone to customer support trying to turn off the always-on Draw function. I’m sure this sounded like a good idea in concept, but in use, it means the Microsoft Pen can no longer be used with MS Office products, and we need to resort to using our fingers to select/size/move, etc. This isn’t very accurate and can be quite a clumsy experience.

    Please re-look at this bug and resolve asap.

    • Hello Gene, we’ve heard you and other similar customers loud and clear, and as a result we are actively working on changes that make it easier for you to use your pen as a mouse. Please see my earlier response to Mike and Kelly in this comments section, which includes more details.

  17. hi, since I updated to the ‘new and improved’ 365 subscription my EXCEL is a drama.. it freezes cells, some (randomly) cannot be clicked on at first, then when move there with arrow keys it is working again.. furthermore, when I type something and nothing is showing.. this can take seconds but sometimes it will only appear when moving to new cell.. it is like the refresh rate is set at 3 minutes.

    Even with latest update from yesterday, the problems still remain.

    It really is impossible to work in and is recipe for faults when doing a lot of numbers.

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