Office 2016 Flexes Collaboration & Security Muscles

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Conference calls from airports, field notes via tablets and group brainstorming sessions with team members in other countries. All evidence of the mobile and cloud-based world we live and work in. Meanwhile, Microsoft is doing its best to not just keep up but to give itself a competitive edge against contenders like Google. Office 2016 is one of several steps in the right direction.

It’s been a busy few months for Microsoft. There was the launch of new operating system Windows 10 in late July (if you haven’t taken advantage of the free upgrade, what are you waiting for?), and just last week they rolled out their latest and much-anticipated productivity suite - Office 2016. With new features aimed at improving collaboration capabilities among employees, seamless integration with Windows 10 and bulking up some security features that will put the business leader’s mind at ease, Office 2016 looks to be the answer for anyone working in today’s digital, mobile and collaborative business world.

Teamwork and Collaboration

The most significant updates to the Office suite can be summed up in one word: collaboration. Microsoft had a vision of making working together easier and more impactful than ever by integrating apps and services that remove barriers and empower teams to achieve more.

Microsoft has brought real-time co-authoring – a feature available in its web apps since 2013 – to its desktop apps. Co-authoring allows numerous team members to simultaneously edit and work off the same Word document. This means multiple users can be typing, editing or preparing one word document without interrupting others working on it as well. The application lets other users know where others are in the document and what they are typing in real time. Co-authoring is only available when documents are stored on One-Drive or SharePoint online, and all authors are using Office 2016.

Simplified sharing now allows users to easily collaborate right from their open document. You can invite team members to review or edit documents with the click of a button, change access permissions, see who has access and who is working within the document through the sharing pane. The new Skype for Business integration takes that collaboration a step further by enabling users to instant message, share their screen and video chat from inside their document.

Office 365 users also have the opportunity to take advantage of Office 365 Groups. Groups allows users to create teams via Outlook 2016 or a mobile Outlook Groups App and share their Inbox, calendar storage and OneNote.

Working with Windows 10

With the launch of Windows 10 this past summer, and the debut of Office 2016 shortly after, it’s no wonder one of Microsoft’s main objectives with Office 2016 was to ensure that the two would integrate well with one another.

Cortana, Microsoft’s new virtual assistant who was recently introduced to us with Windows 10, will become even more helpful in Office 2016. Gathering intelligence through Outlook 2016, soon Cortana will know you and your tendencies so well she’ll be able to take notes for you, prepare you for upcoming meetings and get proactive insight on prospects you are targeting for your business.

Along with Cortana, Windows 10 was the first time we saw Sway, Microsoft’s content creation tool that allows users to combine text and media to create websites. Office 2016 is said to integrate nicely with Sway and make it easier than ever to create presentable digital stories.

Security Enhancements for the Enterprise

As security continues to be a top-of-mind concern for iCorps’ clients, we’re happy to see Microsoft focusing on ramping up its security features for Enterprise users.

With its built-in security features, Microsoft is going so far as to tout Office 2016 as the “most secure Office ever.”1 According to Microsoft’s Brad Anderson, the company focused on “3 key elements to make Office 2016 optimally secure”:

  • Data Protection and Data Loss Prevention
  • Ensure the User is Who They Say They Are
  • Protect Data At-Rest and In-Motion

Data Loss Prevention (DLP) is said to reduce the risk of data leaks by giving control to IT admins who can set the rules for content authoring and document sharing.

“For example, you can set a policy that, if credit card numbers, passport numbers, social security numbers (and a long list of other sensitive information types) are detected in the document, the user can be shown a “policy tip” to help guide them,” Anderson writes.

Office 2016 now also has support for enabling multi-factor authentication, which allows a user to login only after passing more than one layer of authentication. This ensures the second priority on Anderson’s list of making sure someone is exactly who they say they are.

For example, states Anderson, “to get access to a specific Word document, the user may be required to provide a username/password as well as a PIN that is sent to their phone.”

The Windows Hello function, which was initially introduced in Windows 10, is also intended to help in this area. Windows Hello provides instant access to your Windows devices by using sensors that can detect facial structure, fingerprints and even your eye’s iris. This recognition software allows users to gain access to their devices without ever having to store a password on their device or network server at all. This will prevent people from forgetting complicated passwords and hackers from gaining access to easy ones – an important note, given that 75% of corporate security breaches are tracked to weak or compromised passwords.

The new Rights Management features in the Enterprise Mobility Suite now allow users to open and view protected email across all devices. Enterprise users can now also have the ability to see who is trying to access their protected document and even receive an e-mail alert when someone attempts to access the document sending them to a tracking site with great insights on the access activity of their document. Anderson provides a detailed example in his blog here.

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Sources:
1 Technet.com: The Launch of Office 2016: The Most Secure Office Ever

With more than two decades of experience, the iCorps IT consulting team is dedicated to delivering excellence to our customers by staying ahead of market trends and understanding new technologies that could impact their business. iCorps delivers superior IT outsourcing, IT support and technology solutions implemented by the best consultants in the BostonPhiladelphia and New York (NY) areas.