Ignite 2016 brings a ton of new features and functionality to Office 365

Mark Coppock

Office 365

Ignite 2016 has provided a wealth of new information regarding Microsoft various cloud and productivity services. Whether it’s Azure, Office 365, SharePoint, or Dynamics, Microsoft is taking advantage of their annual business-oriented event to let us know about a slew of new and upcoming features and functionality.

Office 365 has received a great deal of attention in terms of business intelligence, security, and collaboration, and the Microsoft Office blog took some time to provide additional details. Here’s a breakdown of what’s been announced for Office 365 in September 2016 via Ignite.

New intelligent services

Microsoft is incorporating some new cloud-based intelligent services into Office 365, including the following. Each of the new features hooks into one or more aspect of Microsoft’s machine intelligence infrastructure to bring new capabilities to the world’s most popular office productivity suite.

  • Tap in Word and Outlook—Find and use relevant content from within your organization without leaving the document or email you’re editing. Powered by the Microsoft Graph, Tap surfaces documents, presentations and spreadsheets frequently used by you or made available by your coworkers. Simply click to incorporate desired elements from within those files, seamlessly integrating individual components such as slides, images, tables, graphics and charts. Content is pulled in with fidelity intact, so you can change table colors, add a trendline or legend to a chart, edit text and more. We’re working to extend Tap to more apps, like PowerPoint, in the future. Get started with Tap in a few easy steps.

    Availability: Tap is available today in Word and Outlook on Windows desktops, for Office 365 Enterprise E3 and E5 subscribers in First Release for Current Channel. Learn more on this page about ensuring you have refreshed Office 2016 with the September updates.

  • QuickStarter in PowerPoint and Sway—QuickStarter is re-inventing the creation process, helping you conquer the blank canvas. Powered by the Bing Knowledge Graph, QuickStarter in Sway and PowerPoint provides carefully curated outlines for any topic, including recommendations on information to include, categories to consider and associated images tagged with Creative Commons licenses. This provides a solid starting point to then continue building the rest of your presentation. You really need to see QuickStarter in action to understand what it can do—check out the video below!

    Availability: QuickStarter is available today for all customers in Sway on the web. Education customers using Sway have a slightly modified version to meet the needs of educators. QuickStarter in PowerPoint on Windows desktops is coming by the end of 2016, for Office 365 subscribers.

  • Designer transforms text—It’s easy to get beautiful designs in minutes for even more types of slides. Designer in PowerPoint now can recommend professional design options for bulleted process lists. This expansion builds upon previous Designer updates to incorporate facial detection, color extraction and more in images. Additional categories of text will be supported in the future, such as timelines. Stay tuned for more!

    Availability: Designer support for text is now available in PowerPoint on Windows desktops, for Office 365 subscribers in the Office Insider program. Learn more on this page about ensuring you have refreshed Office 2016 with the September updates. Designer support for text in PowerPoint on Mac is coming soon, for Office 365 subscribers.

Office 365 Designer enhancements.


  • Turn data into Maps in Excel—Now you can transform geographic data into professional visualizations with just a few steps, using the new Maps chart type in Excel. Powered by Bing Maps, Maps in Excel enable everyday users to create geographic data visualizations that previously required the help of technical experts or expensive external products. This makes it easier than ever for you to identify insights, trends and opportunities in your data right in Excel, whether you’re at work, school or home.

    Availability: Maps in Excel on Windows desktops, Windows Mobile and Android are coming by the end of 2016, for Office 365 subscribers.

  • Microsoft MyAnalytics—Create better work habits with the help of Microsoft MyAnalytics (formerly Delve Analytics). MyAnalytics provides insights to help you understand how you spend your time at work, across meetings, email, time you designate as “focus time” and after-hours work. This way, you can set productivity goals and monitor progress over time. You can also gain visibility into who you collaborate with most. In the future, MyAnalytics will deliver insights to teams and Office 365 Groups to help them establish better ways of working together, uncover hidden inefficiencies and align on priorities. Learn more about MyAnalytics.

    Availability: Microsoft MyAnalytics is now available, included at no additional cost for Office 365 Enterprise E5 subscribers.

Enhanced security and compliance via business intelligence

Microsoft continues its focus on enhancing the security and compliance capabilities of Office 365. Today, Microsoft highlighted some ways that business intelligence is enhancing how the company keeps your productivity information safe and secure.

  • Improvements to Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)—New ATP features help keep your employees secure without impacting productivity. URL Detonation analyzes suspicious links in a virtual environment, while Dynamic Delivery scans attachments for malware without delaying email delivery. We’re also bringing ATP to SharePoint Online and the Office desktop apps. Security admins can explore threats and gather insights about attacks with new reporting capabilities, as well as correlate threats across your network with Windows Defender ATP integration.
  • Threat Intelligence—New to Office 365, Threat Intelligence helps you proactively uncover and protect against advanced threats in Office 365. Deep insights into threats—provided by Microsoft’s global presence, the Intelligent Security Graph, and input from cyber threat hunters—help you quickly and effectively enable alerts, dynamic policies and security solutions.

    Office 365 Threat Intelligence portal.
  • Advanced Data Governance in Office 365—Also new for Office 365, we’re applying intelligence to make it easier than ever to retain high value data and ensure business continuity, while reducing your overall risk profile. Advanced Data Governance helps you achieve organizational compliance by leveraging machine assisted insights to help you find, classify, set policies on and take action on the data that is most important to your organization.
    Office 365 Advanced Data Governance portal.

    Availability: Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) improvements will start to roll out by the end of 2016. Threat Intelligence and enhanced Advanced Data Governance capabilities will be available in the first quarter of 2017. All three will be included at no additional cost in the Office 365 Enterprise E5 plan and the new Secure Productive Enterprise E5 offering.

  • Outlook is now powered by the Microsoft Cloud—We’ve updated Outlook for iOS and Android to better support the legal, regulatory and compliance needs of our enterprise customers. Starting today, for Office 365 commercial customers, Outlook for iOS and Android is now fully powered by the Microsoft Cloud. This means Outlook now supports Exchange Online mailboxes natively, such that no mailbox data is cached outside of Office 365. Our backend service has been automatically updated, so this change does not require an app update. Read today’s Outlook blog for more, including details on the new architecture.

Smarter, more connected collaboration

Finally, Microsoft is enhancing Office 365’s collaborative functionality through SharePoint improvements, Yammer integration, and more.

  • Improvements to SharePoint—We’re expanding the power of SharePoint as part of the cloud-first, mobile-first vision and roadmap we unveiled earlier this year. New OneDrive sync capabilities for SharePoint sites and shared folders help you stay connected. We have added richer people experiences like those in Outlook that let you go beyond a coworker’s contact details. Team News helps you communicate to keep your team informed, and you can more seamlessly manage business processes with deeper integration of Power BI, Yammer, Microsoft Flow and PowerApps. SharePoint team sites are coming to every Office 365 Group, including modernized lists, document libraries and pages. Additionally, SharePoint mobile apps for Android and Windows put your intranet in your pocket. Learn more about the details and availability in today’s SharePoint blog.
  • Yammer integration with Office 365 Groups—Yammer now boosts team productivity even more by adding a SharePoint team site and document library, OneNote, Planner and Outlook group calendar (coming soon) to every group in Yammer. Read today’s Yammer blog for more.

    Availability: Yammer integration with Office 365 Groups is rolling out over the next several months for Office 365 commercial customers.

  • Updates to Skype for Business—It’s easier than ever to move all your communications to Skype for Business. Skype for Business for Mac will be generally available in October. We’ve more deeply integrated the mobile experience, and a preview of translation and transcription capabilities will roll out in Skype Meeting Broadcasts by the end of 2016. The next generation of Skype Room Systems is also here, as is an expanded set of markets for PSTN services. Read details on these updates and more, including availability, in the Skype for Business blog.
  • Microsoft StaffHub—Microsoft StaffHub is a new app that makes it easy for managers to create teams, manage shift schedules and provide relevant information to their workers. For deskless workers, all their schedule information, important communications, announcements and content are just a few taps away on their mobile devices. Read more about Microsoft StaffHub.

    Availability: Microsoft StaffHub is now available in public preview for the web, iOS and Android, for Office 365 Enterprise K1, E1, E3 and E5 customers.

    Microsoft StaffHub.

There’s no doubt that Office 365 remains a key piece of the “cloud-first, mobile-first” productivity solutions transition that is marking Microsoft’s future. Stay tuned for more detailed information from Microsoft Ignite 2016.