July Updates for Office 365 Include Word Researcher and Focused Inbox for Outlook Desktop

July Updates for Office 365 Include Word Researcher and Focused Inbox for Outlook Desktop

This week, Microsoft announced an extensive list of updates coming to Office 365 customers. Key among them are new Researcher and Editor features for Word and the addition of Focused Inbox to Outlook on Windows (desktop), Mac, and web.

“This month, we are releasing a new set of cloud-powered intelligent services in Office apps designed to save you time and produce better results,” Microsoft’s Kirk Koenigsbauerexplains. “These features help you improve your writing in Word, deliver dynamic presentations in PowerPoint and prioritize the emails that matter most to you in Outlook.”

Here’s what’s new.

Researcher for Word

Available for: Word 2016 for Windows
Requires: Any version of Office 365

This interesting new feature helps you find and incorporate reliable sources and content for research paper. “Right within your Word document you can explore material related to your topic and add it—and its properly-formatted citation—in one click,” Microsoft notes. “Researcher uses the Bing Knowledge Graph to pull in the appropriate content from the web and provide structured, safe and credible information.”


Microsoft says that Researcher is also coming to Word on mobile devices soon.

Editor for Word

Available for: Word 2016 for Windows
Requires: Any version of Office 365

This new feature will be more broadly interesting, perhaps, since it should help virtually anyone who uses Word to write better. It’s a service that provides advanced proofing and editing functionality, leveraging the experience of human linguists as well as Microsoft’s machine learning capabilities in the cloud. It can do things like flag unclear phrases or complex words, such as recommending ‘most’ in place of ‘the majority of’, Microsoft notes.


Because it’s a cloud service, Editor will get better over time. In a coming update this fall, Editor will explain why its replacements are better, and it will soon use a gold dotted line under writing style issues (similar to the red squiggly lines Word uses under misspellings).

(Microsoft has a nice video overview of Reasearcher and Editor on YouTube.)

Focused Inbox for Outlook

Available for: Outlook 2016 for Windows and Mac, Outlook on the web, Outlook.com Requires: Any version of Office 365

Fans of Outlook for Android and iOS know that these apps were originally developed outside of Microsoft, and that the firm has planned to bring some of their unique functionality to other platforms over time. Well, here’s a great example: The Focused Inbox feature that debuted on mobile is now available in Outlook 2016 for both Windows and Mac, and to Outlook on the web (Office 365 commercial versions) and Outlook.com as well.

As its name suggests, Focused Inbox helps you focus on the emails that are actually important by separating your inbox into two tabs, Focused and Other. “Emails that matter most to you are in the Focused tab, while the rest remain easily accessible but out of the way in the Other tab,” the Outlook team explains. “You’ll be informed about email flowing to Other, and you can switch between tabs at any time to take a quick look.” You can train this feature by dragging emails from one view to the other.

If you’re familiar with Outlook on these platforms, you may be wondering how this feature impacts Clutter, which is a somewhat similar in-house Outlook feature. Well, it’s being phased out, and as Focused Inbox is rolled out, Outlook will stop moving emails to the Clutter folder.

You can learn more about Focused Inbox in this YouTube video.

@mentions for Outlook

Available for: Outlook 2016 for Windows and Mac
Requires: Any version of Office 365

The new @mentions (“at mentions”) make collaborating via email easier, Microsoft claims. “Simply type the @ symbol anywhere in the body of your email and start typing to pick the person you want to address,” the firm explains. “Once you pick the person you want to address their name is highlighted in the message in blue, helping them know they are being asked to take an action in your message. In addition, if the person isn’t part of the email conversation already, they will be automatically added to the To: line so they receive a copy of your email.”


In other words, it works like using the @ symbol works in social networking services like Twitter and Facebook. Which is smart.

Zoom for PowerPoint

Available for: PowerPoint 2016 for Windows Requires:Office 365, and you must be on the Office Insider Program

Following up on last November’s release of Designer and Morph for PowerPoint, Microsoft this month is introducing another new PowerPoint feature called Zoom that lets you construct presentations with a new type of navigation.

“Present your slides in whatever order makes sense based on your audience, without exiting slide show mode and interrupting the flow,” Microsoft says. “Office Insiders using PowerPoint 2016 on Windows desktops can now incorporate Zoom in three easy ways to build summary slides, depending on the depth of content and your use of sections. For example, a Summary Zoom for a presentation that has dedicated sections, or a Slide Zoom for a deck that has a few slides.”

This YouTube video does a pretty good job of explaining how it works.


Incredibly, there’s a lot more than that. Microsoft is also highlighting a number of other Office 365 updates on various platforms:

Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for Android Phones and Android Tablets. Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for Android phones pick up the Discover More Office Apps functionality, while Word for Android tablets gains the ability to move tables by dragging them with your finger (instead of using copy/paste). And more.

Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote for iPhone and iPad. Word, Excel, and PowerPoint get Find Shared and Recent Files and Print In Another App functionality. OneNote is now faster and more responsive on Apple Watch. And more.

OneNote, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint Mobile for Windows 10. This month’s updates are only available to Windows Insiders and includes the ability to drag tables with touch and open plain text files in Word, drag cells with touch and open more file types in Excel, new ink colors like rainbow, galaxy, gold, and more in OneNote, and improved presentation reading, slide reordering, and editing in PowerPoint. And more.

Office 2016 for Mac. A new Shared With Me feature in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, an improved Selection pane in Word, improved date picker, drop down lists and other controls in Word, a new Draw tab in OneNote for ink annotations, and more.

Office 2016 for Windows. Outlook picks up summary cards for flight, hotel and rental car reservations. Word, Excel, and PowerPoint can publish to Docs.com. Excel gets new data transformations and connectivity enhancements. And more.

Yes, it’s good to be an Office 365 subscriber.


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