Microsoft Updates Word, PowerPoint and Outlook With Several Key Features

Excel is not getting any love here

Microsoft Office


Subscribers of Microsoft’s Office 365 will soon be greeted by several new features that the company is rolling out.

One Office app that I am always using for my communication needs, Outlook, is finally getting a feature I really loved on the Android version of the app.

Microsoft is bringing Focused Inbox to the desktop after having it on the mobile versions of Outlook for a while now. For those not in the know, Focused Inbox is Microsoft’s effort to try and make it easier for its users to see the most relevant communication first by sifting through all the clutter and mess that is our email inboxes and moving the ones that need our most attention to the ‘Focused’ tab while the rest are left in the ‘Other’ tab.

That aside, Outlook is also getting a feature that many using social media for communication will be familiar with: @mentions. What this means is that Outlook users on the desktop (the feature is said to be coming soon to mobile) will be able to tag people in their conversations and later use the @tag to search for such emails/conversations.

Microsoft Word is being updated to include two new features: Researcher and Editor.

Researcher is targeted mostly at the academics among us. Since Office has always had a student version and Office 365 subscriptions in educational institutions particularly institutions of higher learning like universities, Researcher will come in handy. Reseracher will make it easier for Word users to quote sources of their research articles, term papers and the like as well as include citations. Doing so without any help from software can be such a daunting task. I should know because at such a time last year, I had just done final touches on the research paper for my final college year IT project. It took me forever to write those papers. I cannot even start talking about the back and forth to include sources and citations.

Researcher relies on the Bing Knowledge Graph to get relevant content online and avail it to the Word user. This is also how the next feature, Editor, roughly works. It relies on the cloud to provide proper recommendations to the work being edited.

Editor simply builds on one of the features that have been built into Word since its early days: proofreading. The difference? To demonstrate the difference between the late early 2000s when I was first introduced to Word (and already found a proofreading feature), Editor taps the power of machine learning, natural language processing and a team of linguists put together by Microsoft to make sense of any written works to provide suggestions in real time to make your work better.

PowerPoint is getting Zoom, a feature that will allow presenters to focus on a particular section in a slide during a presentation easily.

These features are part of the updates that Microsoft releases monthly to Office 365 subscribers and, as already stated, will be coming to the mobile apps where they are not already available in addition to making it to Office Online and the web version of Outlook. Users of standalone versions of Office 2016 won’t be getting any of these updates.

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Emmanuel writes on mobile hardware, software and platforms.