Making Sense of New Microsoft Office Features

Microsoft on keyboard Feature

Last week, Microsoft announced a host of new options for its Office 365 productivity suite, including enhancements to popular apps like Word and Teams and rollouts of fresh tools like Stream. The news merged from the November 2021 edition of Microsoft Ignite, the company’s annual summit of technology leaders and practitioners.

The digital event revealed a slew of exciting updates: new integrations, digital canvas tools, improved database capabilities, more robust artificial intelligence, security solutions for developers, and cloud platform updates. The question is, which of these announcements will have an immediate effect on the business community—and which will impact day-to-day operations further in the future?

CMIT Solutions highlights several of the most promising updates, connecting the dots between far-flung ideas and practical tips. Here are five developments we’ll be keeping an eye on in the future: Teams Connect, a cross-organization plugin, will eventually align more closely with the overall Teams app, Microsoft announced. Users will be able to schedule meetings with external collaborators in shared channels, reducing the need to toggle between virtual meeting apps and manage cumbersome guest access settings. Teams Connect will allow up to 50 different groups of contacts to interface, all within the same app; by the end of 2021, Microsoft will also introduce Teams-based chat capabilities for external collaborators, further streamlining digital communication on different apps like Zoom, Cisco, Cvent, and GoToMeeting as much of North America’s workforce continues working remotely or on a hybrid schedule.

This enhancement has the potential to make collaboration more powerful as soon as it’s introduced.

What started as a handy alternative to the browser extensions like Grammarly will soon receive powerful predictive capabilities thanks to Context IQ, Microsoft’s new AI-powered technology. That means more nuanced spelling, grammar, and readability suggestions for text documents—along with powerful file-sharing suggestions that scan your Outlook messages and saved files to identify the right attachment for an email or find the best time to schedule a meeting.

This enhancement will likely require fine-tuning before it makes an immediate impact—but once it learns your behaviors better, it could save you valuable minutes each day.

Microsoft acquired this web-based platform in September—and saw so much promise in it that it’s being brought to market immediately. Clipchamp will satisfy an important need in Microsoft’s productivity ecosystem, providing a major boost over the limited video editing capabilities of the Microsoft Photos app in Windows 10 and Windows 11. “Clipchamp enables people to create and share their stories,” said Wangui McKelvey, general manager of Microsoft 365. “Clipchamp empowers creators of all skill levels to create, edit, and share beautiful, professional-looking videos easily and quickly.”

This enhancement could be useful for savvy Office users—but could represent a steep learning curve for those not familiar with video editing.

Although it doesn’t have an official release date yet, Microsoft Office plans to launch a modern font picker that simplifies the process of discovering, storing, and using your fonts—no more scrolling through endless menus to find your favorite. Users can pin their favorite fonts and, in a major boost, access them in Office documents on every device and platform. If you open an unfamiliar document that contains fonts you haven’t used before, Office will notify you and help install the missing and embedded typefaces, too.

This enhancement has the potential to add visual flair to documents across the Office ecosystem—and make it easier for users to stick with their preferred typeface.

Stream, an enterprise video service available to businesses that need greater webinar capabilities, will see several improvements. These include the ability to view Microsoft Teams live transcripts as a video plays (in either a side pane or as closed captions), the power to search for specific words and phrases in meeting recordings, the ability to access videos on the web through, new green-room features, integrated Q&A options, and isolated audio feeds.

This enhancement could significantly improve virtual meetings, but new capabilities will most likely require testing and refinement as users adopt them.

These five tools offer everyday Office users the greatest bang for their buck. But a host of other advanced administrative improvements could also change the game for Office experts and those who want to embrace the full potential of Microsoft 365’s cloud-based ecosystem. If you’re curious about ways in which Microsoft 365, Office, and the newly released Windows 11 can impact your business, contact CMIT Solutions today.

We help companies of all sizes understand the changing tech landscape and adopt the tools that are right for them. For most of us, that doesn’t mean rushing into new apps, chasing fancy new enhancements, or tangling ourselves up in complicated new features. Move at your pace with a trusted IT provider like CMIT Solutions by your side.

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