back to article Delving into Office 2016: Microsoft goes public with new preview

Microsoft’s Office team is in overdrive, delivering new versions this year for Android, Mac (in preview), Windows 10 Universal App Platform (in preview), and now Windows desktop, also in preview. The public preview was announced at Microsoft’s Convergence event under way in Atlanta. According to VP Kirk Koenigsbauer, the …

  1. Danny 14 Silver badge

    Hopefully upload center can be shutdown through OCT just like I did in 2013. Same with onedrive (and lync)

  2. Avatar of They


    If they are asking for features, get rid of upload centre, give the user a choice. (I know, dirty word as they might choose None M$ afterall)

    "Do you use the cloud?" And if you don't, upload centre disappears as another unneeded bloatware. Which M$ said previously they were looking to get rid of.

    If you like giving everything to M$ good luck to you, if you want it on your machine and not in the US then why have something annoying you all the time, like UAC does, did.

  3. Zippy's Sausage Factory
    Thumb Down

    If Office 2016 is anything like Visual Studio 2013 then there will be lots of screen space wasted with cloud nonsense you will never EVER use (do Microsoft make updates of Visual Studio often enough that I need a flag PERMANENTLY on screen to light up when they are? No, to be frank).

    So it looks a bit more 2007ish and a little bit less Windows 3.1, but still boring, flat, plain, cheesy and outdated. Actually, reminds me more of Word 2.0c now - go figure.

    And will they have fixed some of the UI inconsistencies? Unlikely. Will they have fixed the VBA problems in Excel? Doubtful. Will they have fixed the dreaded pagecount bug first discovered in Word 2 that is still open today? Almost certainly not.

    So... why bother with MS Office any more? Really? All they do is make it look a bit different but don't bother fixing the things that stop you doing your job. Right now, Libre and Open Office look a better bet because I can actually get work done in them. I'd pay money for them, but I wouldn't even bother installing Office 2016 if you gave it to me.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Indeed - and as they still insist on wasting space with the ridiculous 'menu disguised as a big fat toolbar) aka the ribbon... they can still wait for me to install it.

      All the disadvantages of both menus *and* toolbars and the advantages of neither.

      (And yes, I know about ctrl-f1)

  4. Jad


    Good review, told me (almost) everything I needed to know.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    MSFT has got its mojo back after the shambles of the Balmer years

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still with the ribbon?

    It's been years and I still can't find a damn thing with the ribbon. Somebody please remind Microsoft about the importance of stability in a user interface.

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: Still with the ribbon?

      >>"It's been years and I still can't find a damn thing with the ribbon"

      Rubbish. You're either lying or an idiot.

  7. Christopher Reeve's Horse

    Have they fixed...

    ...the completely broken trace precedents/dependants for formulae with structure references?

    ...(in)ability to resize evaluate formula window, forcing you to navigate complex formula (and data arrays in sumproducts) through a tiny TINY letterbox?

    ...vba that crashes excel when I run it, but inexplicably runs perfectly when using F8 to step through individual lines?

    ...the inexplicable slow down when using lots of structured tables (listobjects), where Excel can lock up for several minutes BEFORE it starts processing cells (which takes only two seconds)?

    Probably not, but seeing as they've been doing the important work of fiddling with the colour of the ribbon, then obviously I can't wait to get my hands on it.

  8. Ossi

    My prediction as a non-techie user of Office:

    Have they fixed all the faults that have been around since year dot like problems with handling numbered lists in Word? No, thought not.

    Have they added in fairly basic features that users have wanted for years like mail merge that can send an email with an attachment and a message, or an ability to easily animate individual cells in PowerPoint tables? Nope, thought not.

    Have they added in a load of features that have little to do with user need but a lot to do with Microsoft's 'strategy'? Yep, thought so.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Is this going to be a perpetual license where M$ badger us to use the cloud or Cloud SaaS which will badger us to upgrade to X, Y & Z features?

  10. davidp231

    I wonder if...

    ...they will get rid of the one activation, one install rule - which renders even the trial versions useless while within the time period if you need to do a rebuild. Oh and more control over IMAP special folder names in Outlook. I mean Outlook Express/Windows Mail/Windows Live Mail could do it so why not full Outlook?

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge

      Re: I wonder if...

      "...they will get rid of the one activation, one install rule"

      Which rule is that? I've activated the OEM licenses multiple times.

      1. davidp231

        Re: I wonder if...

        The one where it told me my valid trial key was no longer valid due to activation when i had to reinstall everything (and still being within the trial period). Same (or similar) applies to retail Office 2013 I think.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I wonder if...

        " I've activated the OEM licenses multiple times."

        You have been fortunate. In my experience Office OEM licenses did not re-install on changed hardware. It now appears that even the current retail versions are only licensed for the life of the PC hardware.

        I'm getting wary of trying to fix people's PC problems in case they end up having to buy all their Microsoft licences again.

        1. Lusty

          Re: I wonder if...

          "current retail versions are only licensed for the life of the PC hardware"

          Are you literally just making things up? Current retail versions are now all Office 365 and licenced by the user. This is why the retail version is actually now a little plastic card behind the tills rather than a box on a shelf.

    2. Lusty

      Re: I wonder if...

      O365 gives you 5 PC/Mac installs plus a couple of mobile devices. All user managed through the portal.

  11. Erik4872

    Holy crap, they listened to something!

    I see they decided to put some color back into the user interface, and get rid of the SHOUTING RIBBON TABS. It may seem like a minor thing, but I've been holding out on upgrading most of my Office 2010 instances because I can't stand the bright white UI. Try typing in Word for a couple hours or noodling away in Excel...even with the "dark grey" theme on, your eyeballs hurt. If they haven't broken everything else in Office 2016, I think I'll be upgrading finally.

    I'm not a big fan of the recent trend towards "take it or leave it" user interface choices. This goes for Apple as seems to me like some marketing group is trying to push the message that your PC is just a giant phone. If you're going to provide a full desktop OS like Windows or Mac OS X, provide the user some customization opportunities.

  12. James 29

    Looks like the 2013 grey theme

    Just compared the screenshot with 2013 light grey theme and apart from the uppercase menus and blue menu ribbon, both versions look pretty identical.

  13. batfastad


    Does it load faster than the Office XP that I'm still rocking?

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: Speed

      >>"Does it load faster than the Office XP that I'm still rocking?"

      Well my 2013 version of Office does, so probably.

  14. petec

    Argh! Office 2010/2013 isbloodygodaweful

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So we get colour themes back instead of the current suicide inducing drabness of the Office 2013 themes of white, grey & slightly less grey.

  16. John Nieurzyla


    And they still are unable to allow you upload a pdf file and then work on it? without shilly shallying, I will stick to 2013, which I got as gift, but I only use about 4% of it, if that.

  17. NJobs

    I stick with Office 2010 or 2013...

    So after 3 years, no real changes in the pipeline for Office 2016. Why would any IT department want to waste its time and IT budget migrating to Office 2016 when it can stay on or migrate to a cheaper / similar product such as Office 2010 or 2013 (both supported until 2020 / 2023 respectively).

  18. SysExJohn

    Living in the past.

    Another dinosaur owning up.

    My copy of Office 2000 still works fine in my Windoze XP environment.

    No stupid ribbons to contend with, does everything I need.

    It was my last purchase of anything from Microsnot.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Re: Living in the past.

      While I don't use insulting epithets about Microsoft, I still see no reason to upgrade past Office 2003. License for one desktop, one laptop and ports just fine when I replace a machine. I still have to kill the personalized menus though.

      I do have one machine with Office 2010. Opened it to activate, ain't been back since. Ribbon, non-starter as is Sharepoint/Office Upload.

  19. Triggerfish

    After trying outlook 2013

    I'm sticking with 2010. Can't see 2016 being any better with the interface.

  20. AJ MacLeod

    They could have saved themselves the bother...

    ...of developing the "Tell Me" function if they'd just retained the semi-logical menu structure and hadn't ditched it for the utterly useless ribbon.

    That way, if I wanted to insert an equation I'd have gone to the insert menu, not had to rummage through pages of dull flat meaningless icons or make my request in writing to Microsoft (sorry, used the "tell me" search function)

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: They could have saved themselves the bother...

      >>"they'd just retained the semi-logical menu structure and hadn't ditched it for the utterly useless ribbon. That way, if I wanted to insert an equation I'd have gone to the insert menu, not had to rummage through pages of dull flat meaningless icons or make my request in writing to Microsoft"

      Click on the Insert tab and right in front of you is a big Pi symbol with "Equation" written underneath it. You can't seriously find that difficult or unintuitive.

      In pre-Ribbon Office, you go to the Insert menu option. Within the fold-down menu, find "Object". Select the "Create New" tab and select "Microsoft Equation 3.0." Click "OK."

      Read both those scenarios back to yourself twice. Consider. Admit that you are at best arguing from a basis that you are personally familiar with an old way of doing things so have a skewed view on what is easy; and more realistically just haven't bothered to ever actually give the Ribbon a fair assessment.

      1. AJ MacLeod

        Re: They could have saved themselves the bother...

        Er - no. I don't use Office at all for my own business use as it has been overpriced rubbish for decades and there are open source alternatives which suit my needs far better (to begin with they're supported on Linux which has been a requirement of mine for the past 17 years.)

        I do, however, have to provide support for other people who use it and so am quite familiar with it; years of daily familiarity with the ribbon in its various incarnations has convinced me that it's a stupid, inefficient, inflexible waste of space which is far less intuitive than the menus which everyone else figured out are optimal for this type of GUI quite some number of decades ago. (Microsoft's occasional rather dumb allocation of menu entries notwithstanding.)

        I don't care if it takes an extra click to obtain infrequently used function X via menus, I am at least likely to be able to find it without resorting to Google (which I have frequently had to do with "ribbon" versions of Office.) Oh - and if I find I require function X frequently I could add a more readily clicked button for it anywhere I liked... customisation options in more recent versions of Office are limited in comparison.

        1. h4rm0ny

          Re: They could have saved themselves the bother...

          That's a lot of words none of which address the fact that you claimed

          Insert tab -> Equation button

          was less intuitive than

          Insert Menu -> Object -> New -> Equation Editor 3.0

          You demonstrated that you don't know what you're talking about. You further demonstrate it with your reply. "Inflexible waste of space". By default it will hide itself and just reappear when you go to it. It also actually takes up around the same amount of height as the original icon and menu bars, it just looks bigger because it's one row rather than several. Don't believe me? Here is a screenshot comparison:


          As to your comments about being able to add a button short-cut if you wanted - you can customize the Ribbon just as easily, even putting anything and everything into a single ribbon tab if you want. It's easy, even creating an entirely new tab if you want and spend the rest of your life with only that if you find multiple ones so confusing. It's no less customizable, you just have a bias and are making statements that don't stand up.

          1. AJ MacLeod

            Re: They could have saved themselves the bother...

            Oh, whatever you think - you clearly know best. I know that I've used the ribbon for years and it's suboptimal and inflexible; and despite what you incorrectly say it IS less customisable as you can't remove, rename or rearrange the vast majority of items on the ribbon. (Oh great, I can create a new tab! I didn't want to, I wanted a fixed position toolbar button that doesn't move itself about depending on what context it thinks I'm working in.)

            Equation insertion was hardly an example I picked out to prove my case, it was merely the example in the article; there have been many options I've had to resort to Google to find which were previously nested in fairly logical places in the menu structure -- if Microsoft didn't think people were struggling they would hardly have introduced this new search feature would they?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If it doesn't bring back menus as an alternative to the ribbon I won't bother.

  22. monkeyfish

    Widescreen support?

    Have they done anything to make using it on a widescreen monitor any better? With 2007/2010 you either have the choice the ribbon taking a ton of space from the top, leaving a letterbox for you to work in. Or you minimise the ribbon and then have to click click click to go through it. When maximised it allows you to scroll through it with the mouse wheel, but it doesn't work when minimised. Ideal ally I'd like to put the whole thing on side where I lots of unused space, but minimised and opening each tab when hovered over would work ok.

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: Widescreen support?

      I have one of my monitors in portrait mode. Not sure if that will help but it works really well for word processing.

  23. Michael Maxwell


    Does the title bar shift color depending on whether the window is in focus, like Office 2010 did? (and like every other app except Office still does) I can't ever tell if an Office 2013 window has keyboard focus, without looking around for some other window that might have focus. As a result, I've hit the <Delete> key too many times in Outlook, deleting an email, because I thought some other window had focus. (Yes, I can get the deleted email back with undo, but I shouldn't have to--I should be able to look at Outlook and immediately tell whether it has focus.)

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021