What Does Office 2016 Mean to a Small to Medium Business?

Microsoft Office 2016 became available on September 22nd. Any business considering upgrading should consider several factors.

Do I need to upgrade yet?

How disruptive is an upgrade?

Do I pay for an upgrade license, or is this my driver to move to Office 365 and pay a monthly fee from now on rather than upgrade costs every few years?

As a small business owner and a provider of technology services to small businesses, I thought of several relevant questions and then did some playing around on several devices to find out the answers.

How different is the user interface?

The interface has had an aesthetic overhaul to give it a Windows 10 look and feel, which is fine, but overall, the actual functionality and layout have not changed much. This is a good thing for you and your staff.


Once very much a solo effort set of tools, Office is now a set of tools geared towards team effort, or at least it’s beginning to head that way. The main changes are based on collaboration between people, especially when tied to Office 365. Documents can be shared from within the application, worked on together, and co-authored. The ability to see real-time typing by a collaborator to edit a paper you are working on together. The experience is variable depending on which application you use, though.

Let’s take Word as an example. Save the file online (e.g., to OneDrive for Business), click on the Share button, which opens an invite box, select the people you want to share with, and away you go. You then have much control over who can and can’t do what. With PowerPoint, you can share a document but have very little control over what your collaborators can and can’t do, and viewing changes in real time is problematic. Microsoft will provide feature updates as time passes; I’m sure the user experience will become more consistent across applications.

In Outlook, you can mail a link to the file in OneDrive, rather than attach the actual file, and you can use Outlook Groups to create collaboration teams with shared communications, shared file locations, and a shared calendar. I plan on using this last one a lot. The “Tell me what you want to do” search tool has now been added to all but OneNote and Publisher (unless I’m dense in those two cases). It is a much more intuitive and useful tool than Office Help has been in the past, and this will greatly help your staff figure out how to do things they’ve not done before in an application.

Two new applications, Delve and Sway, have been added. Sway is a means to create web-based content from several sources and is newly created for Sway itself. It is instrumental in telling a story to a customer or other parts of your organization. I plan to play with this and write up my experiences separately from this article, as it is an interesting venture from Microsoft and deserves its focus of work beyond this article.

Microsoft refers to Delve as an electronic business card where you can see details about yourself or a colleague and the documents you or they have worked on. I use it to access documents quickly without needing to remember their folder location on your computer or within OneDrive for Business, but I suspect there is a lot more to it than that. This one deserves some playing with separately, considering using it to get the most value. You can, for example, search for a topic and see if there are documents in the company that are relevant to that topic, and useful content can be pinned to different boards, like Trello, if you’ve ever used that.

How well does Office 2016 run on an entry-level device?

I run Office 2016 on a super cheap but new laptop containing a 1.7 GHz Intel i3 processor, 4 GB RAM, running Windows 10 Pro, and Office runs just fine, no worse than Office 2013.

How easy is the upgrade process to implement?

Since I’m on Office 365 for Business, elementary, office 365 uses Click to Run to install means that once you start the process, there’s nothing else to do except wait for it to finish. I expect an upgrade via install media is equally straightforward, although I’m assuming that based on my experience installing Office 2013 from downloaded media before I joined Office 365.

Are any features going away?

Not as far as I could tell.

So should I upgrade or not?

In conclusion, the upgrade would not be too problematic for your staff to handle, but there also aren’t any large incentives to upgrade just yet unless you already have Office 365, in which case, have at it.

Bob Samuels, Co-Owner of EntellaTech

Bob focuses on technology news as an experienced technology professional and small business owner, affecting small to medium businesses. He has worked in IT for over twenty years and still loves how new technology can shake up an existing industry and help invent new industries. To see how Bob’s company can help your Business with its technology needs, visit http://www.entellatech.com today.