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A few more Office 2016 features leak, digging deep into the details

Microsoft is hard at work on the next major iteration of Office that will be called Office 2016. While there is a small private beta currently taking place with a select group of individuals, Neowin has been sent a document that details the updates that have been pushed out to the testers for the month of January.

Seeing as this is Office, the updates are iterative this time around and are adding new functionality to existing features for the productivity suite. So, what are the changes? Well, we have them posted below but be warned they are quite granular:

  1. Forecasting Functions
  2. Time Grouping for Model Based Pivot Tables
  3. PowerView over an OLAP connection
  4. Data model PivotTable Automatic Relationships Detection
  5. BI in Excel - BI features discoverability
  6. Updated Backstage UI
  7. Rename Tables, Columns and Measures in Power Pivot and Adjustments of the PivotTables
  8. Data Cards
  9. Skype for Business

1. Forecasting functions are described as the time series forecasting sheet functions that can be used to predict future values based on historical data.

Forecast.ETS() predicts a future value based on existing (historical) values by using the AAA version of the of Exponential Triple Smoothing (ETS) algorithm. The predicted value is a continuation of the historical values in the specified target date, which should be a continuation of the timeline. You can use this function to predict future sales, inventory requirements, or consumer trends.

2. PivotTable Time grouping, which was only available as part of the automatic grouping over a native PivtoTable in Excel 2013 is now available over Data Model PivotTable as well. Time grouping for Data Model Pivot tables allows for grouping to be used in conjunction with the power of the xVelocity engine and are a key feature for making Data Model PivotTables a replacement for native ones in the future.

3. Microsoft PowerView is now added as a reporting option for an OLAP cube connection. Just connect your excel spreadsheet to an OLAP cube and select to view this data in your workbook as a Power View Report. In PowerView you are now able to build reports with KPI’s, hierarchies, calculations and table data coming from the OLAP cube.

4. For data modeling in pivot tables, automatic relationship detection is now available through all SKU’s. When building a Data Model PivotTable working with 2 or more tables with no relationships defined between those, the user gets a notification to run Automatic relationship detection. Selecting to do so will detect and create all relationships between the tables that are used for the Data Model PivotTable.

5. As you can see in this image, there is a new 'Turn on data analysis' feature that helps you tie Excel into Microsoft's BI tools.

6. Microsoft also made some changes to the Backstage UI; the three changes are stated below:

This functionality updates the UI in Backstage to be more intuitive around storage locations and increases visibility of the Browse button. The three new changes are:

  • In the Open and Save As tabs of the backstage, the order of storage locations tabs has been updated to reduce confusion (One Drive >> OneDrive for Business >> Online Locations >> local computer)
  • For online storage locations, corresponding email addresses have been added to tab labels to help distinguish the tabs from one another (having multiple online storage locations can get confusing!)
  • The Browse button in each Open/Save As pane has been elevated for improved visibility and quicker entry into the file explorer

7. Microsoft Excel users will now be able to rename tables, columns and calculated fields (aka measures) within the Power Pivot add-in and take advantage of PivotTables being seamlessly adjusted to the new names in the Data Model.

8. Data cards display rich tabular data for a specific geolocation on mouse hover or selected visual. Users can drill down and surface hidden data during presentation or storytelling. This hidden data may be aggregated data that cannot be shown as an existing visual. For example, a column chart cannot show the description for a set of events that occurred at a specific location: such as a list of health violations spanning across a time period at a particular restaurant.

9. Skype for Business, previously called Lync, is getting a few updates as well in this release. Posted below are the changes come to that app:

  • Call Monitor—Microsoft brought one of the beloved Skype features to Lync. When you move focus away from the current call, you'll get a mini version of the call with Mute and End Call buttons.
  • "Peek" menu/conversation control simplification—No more "peek" menu on hover, no more nested navigation. We've aligned with Skype's core conversation controls and flattened our task menu hierarchy, allowing quicker access to tasks, and improving feature discoverability.
  • New PSTN call controls—Power users need fast and easy access to dial-pad and other calling features. We have a new dial pad layout that reduces the number of clicks to the core call management tasks. The feedback has been very positive based on usability studies with actual customers.
  • Chat message bubbles are now included in updated IM experience.
  • There's a new tab layout in the conversation window for better unread message notification.
  • Round photos are now available in chat conversations.
  • Animated emoticons are now available.

While this information is not as fun as say Spartan, for those of you who live in the Office world, these updates, especially those to pivot tables, will be welcomed features when the suite of productivity applications arrive later this year.

While Microsoft did say earlier this month that Office 2016 will arrive this year along with touch apps, the company is being quiet about exactly when the productivity software will be released for desktop users.

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