Microsoft's Office 2016 intro guides are here, a week late and short on useful details

Microsoft has a great opportunity to draw new users to Office 2016, and so far, the effort is falling short.

We concluded our Office 2016 review by noting how poorly Microsoft was promoting the new features of the suite. A new series of Office 2016 guides, published Monday, help rectify that shortcoming—barely.

On Monday, Microsoft launched a series of guides to Office 2016—covering Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, and OneNote—that cover the basic features of each app, as well as a quick guide to getting started. In addition to the guides that cover the new Office 2016 apps, there are guides that cover Office Mobile, Office 2016 for the Mac, and Skype for Business, as well.

Each are available either in PDF format, or as a Sway, the light content-creation app that Microsoft also launched as part of Office 2016. (Perhaps somewhat oddly, Microsoft did not publish a guide to using Sway.)

Microsoft does surprisingly uneven job with these new guides, however. In certain cases, you could argue they’ve dropped the ball.

Why this matters: Microsoft is eager to move users onto its new Windows 10 operating system, new Edge browser, new Windows apps—new everything, as the company moves to a software-as-service model. Even though an entire generation has grown up around Office (it’s been available for about 25 years), those users may be slow to upgrade to Office 2016 because most of its improvements are under the hood. The guides would be an opportunity to welcome new users. We're not sure why the publications seem so half-hearted.

The bare minimum

Take the snippet about sharing your work with others in Word, for example:

office guide word collaborative editng

What you might expect Word to do in this case would be to show how, if you team up with a coworker, you could edit the document collaboratively and be done with it in a jiff. Instead, the example that Microsoft provides implies that this collaborative process could take days to accomplish. Why would you even imply that?

Directly below that, however, is another blurb that introduces the idea of “Tell me what to do...” one of the key features in Office. The “Tell me” box cuts right through the clutter of the Office menus, finding the exact thing you want to get accomplished. It’s a smart idea, executed well. So highlighting that makes sense.

Each guide opens with a “scorecard” of sorts that shows you a typical screenshot - Outlook, for example—along with what each section of the screen does. It’s the type of thing that’s a handy crutch for those who may feel a little unsure about what to do, or a helping hand for those who are totally new to Office.

tell me what to do outlook

The “tell me what to do” feature in Outlook 2016.

Again, however, you might expect a quick blurb about how the new Clutter feature, which helps cut back on insignificant email, might prove useful. But no, that’s not there either.

Microsoft obviously can update these guides as it goes along—after all, that’s the whole point of a Sway, isn’t it?—and I think it needs to. We don’t need these quick start guides turning into full-fledged manuals. But Microsoft at least needs to explain what’s new in Office 2016 and how to take advantage of those new features. And it still really hasn’t done so.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags MicrosoftOffice 2016

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Mark Hachman

Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

This Holiday Season, protect yourself and your loved ones with the best. Buy now for Holiday Savings!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?