Microsoft has launched the new version of its Office productivity software for Windows PC users.

The company announced Office 2016's arrival earlier this month, confirming a number of updated features. Find out everything you need to know below:

What is Office 2016?

Office 2016 is Microsoft’s latest suite of applications, including word processing from Word, spreadsheet maker Excel, presentations with PowerPoint and note-gather OneNote.

For Windows PC users it’s the first major update of Office since 2013.

[Related story: Microsoft Office: Why are there so many different versions and do you really need to pay for it?]

Excel 2016

 

What are the new features of Office 2016?

In Microsoft’s aim for “mobile-first, cloud-first”, more than one user will be able to work in an Office 2016 simultaneously and files will be synced to Microsoft’s cloud storage service OneDrive.

Tell Me is a new search tool coming to Word, PowerPoint and Excel as well, which allows you find features you can’t locate – for example, type ‘add picture’ into the Tell Me search box and it will do it for you.

Microsoft has also making Office more finger friendly for those with a touchscreen – especially Excel which has smart scrolling so you can tap spreadsheet data more easily.

Meanwhile, Word now has an Insights function, which enables you to look for background information on selected text from the web.

Updated apps aren’t complete without a redesign too – Microsoft has tidied up Office 2016, although the Ribbon menu along the top still has many familiar functions in the same place you would expect. Much of the design changes put Office 2016 more in line with the look of Microsoft’s newly-released operating system Windows 10.

Word 2016

 

Which edition of Office is for me and how much will it cost?

The standard Office Home and Student 2016 costs £119.99, which is a one-time purchase meant for one PC. It's not automatically updated and features Word 2016, Excel 2016, PowerPoint 2016, and OneNote 2016 only.

These days Microsoft is encouraging users to consider its subscription-based Office 365 platform - this is updated automatically and also includes Outlook, Publisher and Access on top of the four core apps.

Office 365 Home costs £79.99 per year or £7.99 per month. It can be installed on  five PCs, five tablets and five phones.

Office 365 Personal is limited to one PC, one tablet and one phone, costing £59.99 per year or £5.99 per month.

All are available to buy from the Microsoft Store now.

[Related story: How to create a household budget using Microsoft Excel]

PowerPoint 2016

 

Do I need to upgrade Office 2016?

Upgrading isn’t compulsory and if you’re using more recent versions of Office such as 2013 you’ll still be able to do much of the same thing without any concerns for file formats not working – you’ll simply miss out on the new features.

If you're using the subscription-based Office 365 service, then your applications will be updated automatically at no extra cost.

Should you see some real use for those new features then perhaps you ought to consider going for Office 2016, but if you’re completely happy with what you use at the moment, stick with it.

Will you be upgrading to Office 2016? Let us know in the Comments section below.