What's new in Microsoft Office 2019

These are the new features

Microsoft released the Office 2019 release at the end of September 2018 and calls it the "forever" version of Office because you only pay for it once and then own it forever. It doesn't get any upgrades until the next version is released - unlike Office 365, which has a monthly or annual subscription fee and is constantly updated.

Jared Spataro, General Microsoft Manager for Office, noted in a blog post from April 2018 that "Updates include new and improved color features in the applications - such as the roaming pencil case, pressure sensitivity and tilt effects - more powerful data analysis in Excel - like new formulas, new ones Diagrams and Power BI integration - as well as sophisticated presentation functions in PowerPoint such as Morph and Zoom ".

Office 2019 is based on Office 365 and contains functions from Office 365 that have been introduced since Office 2016 was introduced in September 2015. Microsoft didn't develop its own code base for Office 2019, so it doesn't have any features that Office 365 doesn't.

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Note that Microsoft is constantly updating Office 365, and some future updates might find their way into Office 2019. So, check back often to Microsoft to see if there are any new features that you can expect.

Real-time collaboration in Excel

When Office 2016 was released, Word, PowerPoint, and OneNote all got the tools for online collaboration. These tools enable real-time collaboration on documents as long as they are stored in OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, or SharePoint Online. In July 2017, real-time collaboration finally found its way into Office 365. And these functions also appear in Office 2019.

If you've used Word, PowerPoint, and OneNote for real-time collaboration, you'll be immediately familiar with the version of Excel because it works the same way. If you want to work on a workbook with others, open them and then click the Share button in the upper right corner of the Excel screen. From there, send an invitation to others to share the worksheet.

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If they accept the invitation and edit the workbook at the same time, you can see the changes in real time via a colored cursor that shows their presence in the file. (Each person involved is given a different color). Your cursor will also appear on their screen as a specific color and they will see the changes you make. For example, if someone

Entering data or a formula into a cell, the changes appear. If you place the cursor on another person's cursor, the person's name is displayed. So you can easily see what people are working on. Usually this all happens in real time, but there can be a delay of several seconds if someone has a slow or poor internet connection.

New charts and formulas in Excel

In a blog post from September 2017, Jared Spataros wrote about Office 2019: "New formulas and charts will make data analysis in Excel even more powerful". An FAQ for Office 2019 for business customers lists the following features:

  • Funnel charts and 2D maps

  • New Excel functions and connectors

  • Possibility of data export from Excel to PowerBI

  • PowerPivot improvements

  • PowerQuery improvements

Many functions that were added to Excel in a major Office 365 update in February 2016 are also included in Office 2019. At that time, six new functions for editing formulas were added. With the functions TEXT CHAIN ​​and TEXT CHAIN ​​you can combine texts from cell areas with or without separators, such as a comma. All you have to do is refer to the range, provide a separator and Excel will do the rest. Two more functions have been added: the IF and FIRST VALUE functions that help set a number of conditions, such as when using nested IF functions. And the last two, MAXIFS and MINIFS, make it easy to filter and calculate data in a number of ways. Further information can be found here.

Funnel charts that were introduced into Excel 2019 were also added as part of the February 2016 update. Funnel charts show the values ​​in several stages of a process. A funnel chart can show the number of opportunities at each stage of a sales process. In general, the values ​​in funnel charts decrease with each level, so the bars on the chart look like a funnel. This is where you can find help creating a funnel chart.

Map charts, available in Office 2019, were introduced in Office 365 in November 2016. Use a map chart when you want to compare data across different geographic regions, such as countries, regions, states, counties, or zip codes.

Translate, research and edit

By now, pretty much every word processing feature you can think of has been built into Word. How can Microsoft improve this even further? After the changes for Word in Office 365 over the past two years, Microsoft has tackled the entire writing process.

The translation tool does exactly what it is supposed to and is easy to use. This allows you to have words, sentences and entire documents translated between them. The tool is part of Microsoft's plans to build artificial intelligence into the entire office suite, and it uses what Microsoft calls "Intelligent Services".

The research function is a great way to research online directly from Word. It is much more effective than a simple internet search as it only uses information from reference materials and sources that Microsoft believes can be trusted and that have been compiled by a service called Microsoft Academic Search. It also includes results from Wikipedia and Bing that it deems trustworthy.

It is particularly useful that the research function integrates content directly into Word. This is how you can turn a category of results into a headline in your work. When you do that, a comment is also added to the document that contains a link that, when clicked, will show contributors the original research in the Research section. Students and academics will appreciate being able to insert quotes and text passages directly from research into your document.

The editor in Word 2019 replaces the spelling and grammar area and adds a few new editing functions. It not only shows the misspelled word in the window, but also the text around it, making it easier to see the suggested correction in context. It also provides synonyms for the suggested corrections so that you have a wider range of words that you might want to use. Finally, Editor displays grammar rules to explain why it is suggesting changes. To use it, choose Review> Spelling & Grammar from the ribbon.

  • In addition, according to Microsoft, the following functions are available in Office 2019:

  • Black design

  • Office sounds

  • Captions for learning tools and audio descriptions

  • Text-to-speech function

  • Improved accessibility

AutoSave for Word, Excel and PowerPoint

AutoSave in Office 365 saves time and increases productivity. As the name suggests, it will automatically save your files without you having to do anything. So you don't have to worry about system crashes, power outages, office crashes and other malfunctions. If something goes wrong in Office, you are covered. There's no need to recreate your work or hope that you can restore it using the AutoRecover feature built into the current version of Office 2016.

Microsoft announcement of Office 2019

However, there is one catch with automatic saving: it only works with documents that are saved in OneDrive, OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Online. It's another example of how Microsoft keeps encouraging you to use their company's own services. AutoSave is fundamentally different from the AutoRecover function integrated in Office 2016 and is clearly superior to it. AutoRecover doesn't save your file in real time, so it is easy for you to lose work.

Instead, an AutoRecover file is saved every few minutes so you can try to restore it in the event of a crash. But this feature doesn't always work (e.g. if you don't open Office properly after the crash, or if the crash doesn't match Microsoft's definition). And Microsoft notes: "AutoRecover only takes effect in the event of unforeseen malfunctions, such as a power outage or system crash.

AutoRecover files are not intended to be saved in the event of a scheduled logoff or an orderly computer shutdown. "And of course, the files are not saved in real time like AutoSave, so you lose several minutes even if everything goes as planned.

By default, automatic saving is enabled in Office 365. You can turn off AutoSave if you're concerned about making changes that you don't necessarily want to make permanent. With AutoSave turned off, you have control over which changes to keep.

But again, AutoSave has a good solution: you can easily revert to previous versions of a file, review them, compare them side by side with your existing version, and copy and paste from an older file into an existing file. With AutoSave you can not only save your files automatically, but also open previous versions and restore them if you wish.

A redesigned ribbon, new colors and icons, and an improved search

Like it or not, the ribbon has been a constant in Office since it was first introduced in Office 2007. The ribbon has seen a few minor changes over the years, but now it's undergoing serious overhaul for the first time in Office Online and Office 365. The new design will clean up and simplify the ribbon, which is a bit ironic as the ribbon was originally designed to show features that would otherwise have been hidden.

The current version of the ribbon has what Microsoft calls a "three-line view" - tab names at the top and two rows of icons below that represent various functions, and underneath an arrow that can be clicked to display grouped items such as font, paragraph and so on in the Word Home tab.

QuickStarter for PowerPoint

QuickStarter is an AI feature designed to spice things up in PowerPoint and will probably be welcomed by anyone who has ever faced a blank slide when starting a presentation - most of us. It will jumpstart your presentation by helping you research and outline.

First, enter the subject of your presentation, then choose from a list of subtopics. Once you do, it suggests a full set of slides for you to use based on Bing searches and data, as well as information from Wikipedia. Choose the slide (s) you want to keep, then choose a look for your slides, including a design with background graphics. You are now off to a great start to your presentation and have only spent a few minutes doing it.

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However, don't expect QuickStarter to shine on every topic. It usually works pretty well, but there are times when QuickStarter is overwhelmed.

New freehand functions in Word, Excel and PowerPoint

Microsoft is an advocate for digital handwriting. In many apps, the company tries to give users the option of using a pen. You draw on the screen with your finger, stylus or mouse and choose from a selection of screen pens with different colors and thicknesses.

New functions in PowerPoint and Outlook

Other innovations in Office 2019 according to Jared Spataros:

PowerPoint

  • Extended zoom functions with the PowerPoint morph function

  • Manage icons, SVG and 3D images

  • Ability to move objects with a pen

Outlook

  • Updated contact cards

  • Office 365 groups

  • @Mentions

  • Focused inbox

  • Travel info cards

That costs Office 2019

The office package is available in two versions: The "Home & Student" (129.99 euros) designed for students and families and "Home & Business" (249 euros), which is suitable for work and home. In contrast to Office 365, which can be installed on multiple devices, Office 2019 can only be used on one device (Mac or Windows).

The HEKs for the "Home & Business" licenses start at 199.90 euros, according to the specialist retailer comparison platform ITscope.

What's coming after Office 2019?

One final comment on Office 2019 as a whole: This may be the final "forever" version of Office, and that Office will then only be offered as a subscription version (like Office 365). Microsoft has not yet made a decision on this, as this entry in the FAQ for Office 2019 shows.

Will there still be "eternal" versions after 2019?

"Microsoft will continue to evaluate customer needs and industry trends to determine a plan for future versions of its products and services."

This article is a translation of "First look: Office 2019’s likeliest new features" from our sister publication Computerworld, which was revised in October 2018.