Changes to Expect In Outlook for Office 2016

In addition to its steady rollout of Windows 10, Microsoft has also rolled out another major change to its core: Office 2016. For those who use Outlook for business emails, Office 2016 offers as variety of new, useful features that make it easier to collaborate, share, and communicate. Some features and integration methods are going away as well — businesses should be aware of what systems are changing before making the switch.

Microsoft Office and its Outlook email platform are among the most popular business tools used today, and Prophet CRM works with Outlook 2016. We’ve discussed how Business Contact Manager is not supported by Outlook 2016 and have taken a look at some common questions and answers for Windows 10 Outlook users. Here we focus on Office 2016 specifically. While most of this information is Outlook-oriented, there are also some substantial changes in other business software that will be useful to know.

New Features in Outlook

Outlook has changed the way it integrates (or doesn’t) with other Microsoft products. It also has some unique features for work or school organizational use.

Tell Me

A refinement of the long-standing help and search features of Office applications like Outlook, the Tell Me system allows you to retrieve program features without using toolbars or drop-down menus. Simply type the feature you want to use into the Tell Me bar, and it will show a list of possible features you might be looking for. If you don’t see the tool you want in the first few results, you can also do a more advanced search or go to the help interface from the Tell Me bar.

Attachments and OneDrive Integration

Attaching files has become easier in Outlook 2016. Documents that have recently been opened in other Office 2016 programs can be quickly attached to emails sent through Outlook. For those who use SharePoint, OneDrive, or OneDrive for Business, attachments from these services can be given View or Edit permissions, depending on whether the user wants recipients to collaborate or not. Using this feature, lots of different people can work together on a single copy of an attachment in a fluid manner.

Clutter Designation

For messages that aren’t quite spam but aren’t what you generally bother with, Microsoft Outlook 2016 offers the Clutter designation. Outlook learns which emails you generally don’t care to respond to or read and moves them to a separate Clutter folder, which you can peruse at your leisure later on. You can help the program learn which things you consider clutter by manually moving items in or out of the folder.

Office 365 Groups

For those who get their Outlook access from an Office 365 or Business subscription, this feature enables the creation of shared mailboxes that also offer calendar and storage functionality. If you have a group that you regularly collaborate with that needs mutual access to the same files over a consistent period, or which needs to review emails as a unit, the Office 365 for Business version of Outlook 2016 can solve several team-based communication issues.

Smaller Outlook Changes

On top fo the new features added to Microsoft Outlook 2016, there are also a variety of smaller, more incremental changes. Many of these adjustments improve the program’s functionality in narrow contexts, such on specific devices or for certain business applications.

Search Improvements

Search has been streamlined and integrates better with other instances of Outlook. Users of Office 2016’s version of Outlook can search their local hard drive, Office 365 Mailbox, and Exchange 2016 servers at the same time, making it easier to find documents. You can also easily find contacts and emails through Exchange 2016’s new suggestion features, which include bother sender and content searches.

International Business Improvements

If you do a lot of international business, you will find the fonts of Japanese and Chinese text to be easier to read and more useful. Other Office 2016 apps, such as OneNote and Excel, also benefit from this change. Outlook also now more effectively handles email addresses rendered in languages other than English, enabling users to send and receive such emails much more efficiently. It does not yet allow the creation of international email addresses, but this goes a long way toward improving operability in international environments.

Additional Sync Settings

Due to the increasing size of business attachments and greater volume of emails sent, some smaller devices often used to choke up or slow down when syncing from Exchange or accounts, as they had to synchronize with at least a month of emails. Outlook can now sync as little as three days’ worth of mail offline, making it a less cumbersome program on tablets and other mobile devices with less hard drive space than a desktop or laptop.

CRM Changes

People who use Microsoft official program for CRM will no longer be able to use some of these services after upgrading to Office 2016. Some versions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, most notably 2013 and early builds of 2015, are no longer supported in Office 2016. Business Contact Manager has also been removed, so individuals who want to make use of direct integration with Office will need to upgrade or switch CRM systems.

Other Removed Features

Some features have been removed from Outlook 2016. If you relied on these features, consider upgrading or finding third-party support that performs the same tasks as these features.

Exchange Changes

Support for Exchange 2007 is deprecated, and features that primarily supported the use of Exchange ’07 have been removed. Ask your IT department which version of Exchange you are currently using before you upgrade.

Manual configuration of Exchange accounts has been removed, as only editions of Exchange that are no longer supported required this feature. The system now auto-detects the appropriate configurations, which often unlocks new features compared to manual config.

Social Connector Providers

This function in Outlook, which allowed it to connect to social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, has been removed. While the People Pane that supported it remains and can still be used for a variety of purposes within Outlook, this feature no longer properly interfaces with most social networks. With little remaining functionality, the option has been scrapped in order to streamline the program.

Changes to Other Office 2016 Programs

While we primarily cover Outlook, lots of people use the entire suite of Office 2016. Here are some distinctive changes inside it, with particular focus on the things that will improve your productivity and help you push your business to the next level.


The primary change to Excel is its six new chart styles, for those who love data. The program has added presets for:

  • Treemaps
  • Box-and-Whisker Plots
  • Waterfall Plots
  • Sunburst Charts
  • Histograms
  • Pareto Plots

The new Excel also offers new forecasting options. While older versions only offered linear models, the new one has ways to adjust plots using exponential smoothing, allowing future plots to account for things like seasonal changes. Some new finance-specific features have been added as well.


PowerPoint in Office 2016 offers more transitions and other ways to make a presentation more visually interesting. Some of these features are only available in the Office 365 version of PowerPoint 2016, so those who use PowerPoint may want to invest in this subscription-based version of Office.

PowerPoint also now offers the option to show a screen recording. Those who regularly do demonstrations of software can use this feature to get the same results every time rather than worrying about finicky equipment or connections.

Other Office Programs

Microsoft Word and Access are more or less identical to their previous editions, save for the system-wide adjustments to Office like the Tell Me bar and the addition of the Colorful theme. Few functions have been deprecated or added. If you use these programs in your day-to-day operations, expect no significant changes.

Should You Switch?

Switching to a new edition of Office might be a big change depending on the last time you updated, so consider carefully whether you need to make the switch before doing so. The new features go a long way toward improving Office’s accessibility, and the Outlook changes make it easier to collaborate, manage files, and find the emails most important to you.

If you use Business Contact Manager or Microsoft Exchange 2007, now could be a good time to switch. These programs and add-ins are no longer supported, and any security holes or bugs that crop up will go unaddressed. Make sure to have a CRM replacement for Business Contact Manager before updating.

If you aren’t currently using mobile or cloud computing technology as part of your business, Office 2016 will either change the way you do business or provide relatively little. Consider how ready your organization is to make use of these technologies before committing to an upgrade if you aren’t already using them.

Further Reading

How To Use Excel
Helpful Outlook Resources

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