Microsoft Launches Office 2016: 'Determined to Improve Collaboration'

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By Julianne Pepitone

Microsoft began rolling out the new Office 2016 to customers on Tuesday, saying the first new version of Office in three years is focused on improving collaboration while saving users time.

Office 2016 -- which updates tools like Word, PowerPoint and Excel for the first time since the Office 2013 release -- adds features like "co-authoring" in Word, which lets multiple users type in a document and see what others are doing in real time. Other updates include new chart styles in Excel, an "Office 365 Groups" feature aimed at team projects and a "Smart Lookup" function that lets users drop information from the web into a document.

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Overall, Office 2016's new features are meant to haul Microsoft's tools into the modern world of real-time collaboration, cloud-based storage, team chat -- and other team-focused features from competitors like Google Drive, Slack and more.

"[O]ur time is the scarcest commodity," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wrote in a blog post Tuesday to announce the Office 2016 release. Nadella's post focused on Office 2016 as part of the "mobile first, cloud first" strategy he has pushed since taking the helm at Microsoft in February 2014.

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The Office 2016 release comes almost two months after Microsoft released Windows 10, the latest version of its operating system, in late July.