(Note that this is our take on the preview of Office 2016. Although this is unfinished goods, it is likely that the final version won't be dramatically different from the one we reviewed)
Microsoft is the productivity company, claims CEO Satya Nadella. While that includes a range of products from the Office 365 cloud services to the mobile apps for iOS and Android (along with Skype for Business, Dynamics and Power BI), for most people, Microsoft Office is "top-of-the-mind" for productivity software.
That said, between Google Docs, Apple's Numbers and Pages, Libre Office and even Box's Office viewers, Microsoft Office has plenty of competition. With Office 2016, Microsoft needed to update its core tools, build on cloud services like OneDrive and Office 365, and deliver tools for tablets that might never have a keyboard connected.
Redmond must also bring its new cross-platform strategy to OS X users who care more about the fact that Office on the Mac went for almost five years without a significant update, than the fact that Word and Excel actually started out on the Mac (before Windows), decades ago.
What we're actually getting with Office 2016 isn't the same Office everywhere. It's more like the right Office for each of the three platforms explored today.
- Windows still getting the lion's share of tools and features simply because it's had the most attention over the years. In the preview, the most important new features (beyond interface updates) are for business intelligence in Excel – and for information protection and Office 365 admin.
- Office 2016 for Mac is a preview with many new features that has the feel of a real Mac application and the tools of a real version of Office – but it's not finished, and even when it is, it won't have all the Office applications and it won't get all the Windows Office features.
- The touch version of Office, otherwise known as Office for Windows 10, sits somewhere between Office for iPad and the Windows RT version of Office for Home and Student, but brings in features from Office Online.