[Review] What’s New in Microsoft Office 2016?

Recently we told you about the free public preview release of the new Microsoft Office 2016 suite. You can download and install the free Office 2016 Preview in your computer to test its new features and changes using following link:

Microsoft Office 2016 Free Public Preview Available for Download

Microsoft has made many changes and improvements in the user interface as well as functionality of all Office programs in this new version. Some new features have also been added as usual.

Today in this exclusive review article, we are going to talk about all new features and changes present in Office 2016. We'll also try to compare various features of Office 2016 with Office 2013 in this article.

So without wasting time, let's start the article:

Office 2016 Setup and Installation:

First of all lets talk about the installation process. Microsoft has not provided any offline installer or standalone ISO files of Office 2016 Preview. The company has just released a small online installer which is also known as Click-To-Run (C2R) installer to install the free preview in all computers.

So you'll need a working Internet connection at installation time so that the Office installer can download or stream the required Office files from Microsoft server.


It takes a few minutes depending upon the Internet connection speed in completing the installation process. Everything is fully automatic and unattended. You don't need to enter any information. Just run the installer and wait for the completion.

Related: [Tip] Customize Office Click-to-Run (C2R) Setup to Install Selected Programs

Office 2016 Activation:

After installation when you'll launch any Office 2016 program, it'll ask for activation. Click on "Enter a product key instead" link given below the next button as shown in following screenshot:


Now enter following key and click on Install button to finish activation process:



The above mentioned product key has been provided by Microsoft to activate the free Preview version of Office 2016.

New Themes in Office 2016:

When Microsoft was working on previous version of Office suite i.e. Office 2013, the company released a free Customer Preview version of Office 2013 to public so that people could test the new features and provide feedback and suggestions. Microsoft removed Aero glass transparency from Office 2013 UI. Also the company introduced a new White theme in all Office 2013 programs which didn't get good reaction from users. People were getting mad because of the too much white space in all Office 2013 programs.

Microsoft listened users and added 2 new color schemes / themes in Office 2013 final RTM version: Light Gray and Dark Gray as mentioned in following article:

How to Get Rid of Too Much White Space in Microsoft Office 2013?

But people were still angry with the white interface in Office apps.

Now to make everyone happy, Microsoft has finally added 2 more themes in Office 2016 programs. So you get total 5 themes in Office 2016 which are as following:

  • Colorful (default)
  • White
  • Light Gray
  • Medium Gray
  • Dark Gray


Now the default theme is set to "Colorful" in all Office 2016 programs so you won't get any white space problem. The default Colorful theme is awesome and shows each Office 2016 program in different color.

Previous "Light Gray" theme remains unchanged but the "Dark Gray" theme has been renamed to "Medium Gray" which is correct decision IMO as the previous Dark Gray theme was not dark at all.

The new "Dark Gray" theme is a welcomed addition and will definitely please all Office 2016 users. It provides a dark UI in all Office 2016 programs and dark theme lovers will love this new theme.

Do we need to say anything about "White" theme? Its same as Office 2013 but not applied as default theme.

You can access and change all these themes by going to File -> Account -> Office Theme section.


Just select any desired theme from the drop-down box and it'll immediately change the interface.

No CAPS in Tab Titles in Office 2016 Ribbon:

Another issue in Office 2013 was the use of too much CAPS in tab titles of ribbon. In Office 2013, the tab titles were shown in all caps in the ribbon and people were not comfortable with it.

We provided a tutorial to get rid of the caps issue and show normal tab titles in Office 2013 ribbon:

How to Get Rid of All Caps Tab Titles in Microsoft Office 2013 Ribbon?

But in Office 2016, you'll not need to use any tutorial because Microsoft has decided to not use all caps in tab titles. In Office 2016, tab titles in ribbon are shown in normal title case.


Another welcomed move from Microsoft.

New "Tell Me" Search Assistant in Office 2016:

When you'll launch any Office 2016 program for the first time, you'll immediately notice the new Search box present in the ribbon. This new search box contains "Tell me what you want to do..." text inside it and that's why its called "Tell Me" tool.


At the moment "Tell Me" search tool is available in Word, PowerPoint and Excel programs only. You can click inside the search box and type any desired query. It'll show list of helpful commands to choose from.

New Office Updates Settings:

As far as I remember these settings were not present in previous Office versions. Microsoft has added new options to customize and change Automatic Updates settings in Office 2016.

Just go to File -> Account page and you'll see a new "Office Updates" section where you can change the behavior of Office updates installation.


You can disable automatic updates, view updates history or check for new updates.

Removal of Privacy Options from Trust Center Settings:

While checking the settings of Office 2016 programs, we found that Microsoft has removed several privacy options which were available in previous Office versions.

To check the privacy options, go to File -> Options -> Trust Center -> Trust Center Settings.

Following is a screenshot of Office 2013 privacy options list:


And following is a screenshot of new privacy options list in Office 2016:


As you can see there were 7 privacy options available in Office 2013 settings. But in Office 2016 settings only 2 options are present.

New Option Available for Message Bar in Office 2016:

Although Microsoft has removed several privacy options from Office 2016 settings but they have also added a new option related to Message Bar.

In same Trust Center Settings window, click on "Message Bar" link present in left-side pane and you'll see a new option "Show Policy Tip in the Message Bar. Turning this off will disable all Policy Tips unless your organization requires it":


This option was not present in previous Office versions.

Some Troubleshooting Tips and Other Helpful Tweaks:

Office 2016 also comes with Start Screen similar to Office 2013. If you don't like the Start Screen, you can disable it using the same guide which was posted for Office 2013:

The good ol' Picture Manager is still unavailable in this new version of Office but you can bring it back using following tutorial:

If you are having any performance related problem in Office 2016, check out following articles which will also work for Office 2016:

Also check following tips:

=== === === === === === === === ===

Don't forget to watch following exclusive video which shows all new Office 2016 themes in action:

PS: General availability (GA) of Office 2016 will start on September 22, 2015 as mentioned at following link:

Microsoft Office 2016 to Release on September 22, 2015

That's all for now. We'll keep updating this article if we find anything new and useful in Office 2016. So keep checking this page regularly...

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Posted in: Microsoft Office

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  • I still use MS Office 2000. It has served me well for so many years and on so many versions of MS' O/S, so unless there is some ground-breaking add-on and/or feature that wows me to the point of no return, I try NOT to use any of their products, other than 2000 and W7. Soon, I will be moving to Linux and I know, I will never look back. but, in the meantime, this site is the most recommended site I share with my own email list and those who ask me where to find info on anything Microsoft, including PC tips, tricks, and tweaks.

    Thanks for ALL your hard work, Vishal!!!

  • VG

    ^^ Thanks. I appreciate it. :)

  • Will this preview expire, or will it run until the RTM in the fall? I may try to run it side by side with 13.

  • VG

    ^^ It'll run till RTM release.

  • What I really want is for Microsoft to add a blue theme like Office 2003, 2007 and 2010 had. Or, even better, make office change color WITH Windows, just like it did in Office 2003!

  • By the way, @BobO, it says on the website somwhere (I forget) that you canNOT run it with Office 2013. I think though this only applies for the C2R releases (the ones that add a Local Disk Q drive to your PC) rather than the full, local installs (like the Professional Plus and Standard editions do).

  • wow very exicted, i am very likely the theme.. eye catching

  • So far...It doesn't look like there's a big reason to upgrade to 2016 from 2013. :(
    I was hoping that there was more (I have no idea what it would be) features or changes in more features. I like GUI changes (Sometimes) there's not that many so far.

    Am I missing something?

  • The expected upgrade to Microsoft office 2016 is, for example, the availability of touch screen interaction, the ability of hand drawing, simplification of equation and symbol typing.
    GUI is not a big deal to upgrade from 2013 to 2016 version.

  • I notice that Dark Gray and Colorful the only two themes I might remotely be interested in, do something to invert and bleach out Quick Access Toolbar icons. What happens if the QAT is under the minimized Ribbon? Do they get their color back?

    I actually avoid the Ribbon and keep it minimize and use a loaded up QAT in Word.

  • I only need a few programs of Office 2016; Outlook,Word and Powerpoint .
    Do I have to install the whole Office 2016??

  • I just upgraded to Office 2016 from Office 2013. The only themes available to me are Colorful, White, and Dark Gray. Why am I missing 2 themes?

  • I see no Ligth Gray and Medium Gray in Office 2016 x64. Only Colorful, White and Dark Gray. Dark Gray is too dark IMHO. Would prefer Medium.

  • For some reason, Microsoft removed the Light Grey and Medium Grey themes in the production copy of Office 2013. They took them away in later issues of the Preview version as well.

  • It's a shame. I only upgraded to 2016 because I saw this review. However, I didn't read the comments so I was quite surprised to find that 2 of the theme color options were missing. :( I too find the new "dark" to be too dark.

    So vote here for Microsoft to bring back the missing theme colors: word.uservoice.com/forums/304924-word-for-windows-desktop-application/suggestions/10368345-bring-back-light-medium-gray-theme-colors

    Hopefully enough people will vote so that we can get these options back.

  • Thanks, Jasmine. You have my vote! ;)

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