Inking updates and Visio’s expansion highlight August 2016 updates to Office 365

Michael Cottuli

Office 365 has been undergoing a ton of improvements and changes recently, not the least of which is the introduction of the Office Insider program that went live last November. A bunch of new features are coming to supplement it now, with a refreshed focus on inking, a smarter way to keep track of people, a better way to maintain the security of sensitive files, and a brand new Insider program. You can check all of these out in detail with the Office blog post, but here’s the gist.

The changes to inking are fairly novel and extremely interesting, and many people should get use out of them. The change is, without a doubt, the introduction of equations. All you need to do is write down an equation, circle it with the lasso tool, and indicate to Office that you want to have that equation solved. The process is quick, easy, and its use of the ink tool over just your keyboard makes it a lot closer to the classic note-taking experience that many people are now so used to.


Also new to inking is the introduction of rewind, which lets you record and replay notes in the order that they were taken. This should be an especially strong tool for professors who want to show off certain processes to their students, and opens up a few new avenues of teaching things like math via Office.

The addition of WIP (Windows Information Protection) to Office Mobile for Windows 10 is going to be an invaluable asset for companies trying to make sure their information stays secure. Described as an “enterprise-ready solution,” WIP is a fairly simple solution to a series of big security problems. The feature lets you change files to be either “personal” or “work” so that your IT department can handle them accordingly.

Office WIP.

The new “people experience” is something that many professionals are going to enjoy, as it makes it much easier to keep track of other people in your company. The feature lets you click on a person and find out what your mutual emails are, what files you both have access to, what meetings you’re both going to, and more. It seems like it’s going to be an excellent tool for people who are trying to reach out in their company a bit more.

Visio is also receiving some additions, with two new apps coming out. They’re described in the blog post:

  • The new Visio Online Preview lets you view and share Visio diagrams with just a browser. Drill deeper into sub-processes or link out to web pages. Zoom into detailed views in high fidelity. Open a diagram in Visio Pro for Office 365 to edit.
  • With the new Visio for iPad, access your Visio diagrams from virtually anywhere using your iPad. Search for content, filter different visualizations of the same diagrams, and use the intuitive pan and zoom window to easily navigate or view your diagram in full fidelity. Send feedback and vote on your favorite features on UserVoice.

For those who run into any issues in Office, in-app assistance has been included into Office 365 apps, letting users open up a chat with an IT professional at Microsoft without having to open up a browser. This change makes it so a whole lot more people are going to be able to get help with whatever problems they’re facing in Office, as a pretty big portion of people probably didn’t know they could do anything like that beforehand.

Office in-app assistance.

If you’re familiar with the Office extension that launched on chrome not long ago, you’ll be happy to know that an extension is coming to Edge as well. Now directly from Microsoft Edge, you can open up documents in OneDrive, create new Word files, and more. The extension has been extremely successful on Chrome with over 3 million downloads, so putting the extension on Edge is a solid move on Microsoft’s part.

Finally, some news that regular Windows Insiders are going to be happy about. The Office Insider program is getting a brand new ring to enter: The Fast Level. For those who aren’t familiar, the Fast Level is something that lets Insiders get the very latest builds – the ones being used internally at Microsoft – at the risk of sacrificing the support and stability that most mobile phone users are used to. If you’re feeling adventurous, this is definitely for you.

That’s about it for August’s big updates. Office has gotten a serious new suite of features this month, with a little something thrown in there to make everybody happy. With the addition of the Fast Level, Office insiders are surely going to be introduced to a whole new set of interesting features in the very near future. We’ll have to wait and see what else Microsoft has up its sleeve for us.