Microsoft Office is an essential legal tool used for documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

If your law firm isn’t using the subscription-based Office 365, or perhaps you’re not ready for it, you may be happy to know that a new version of Office is available as of yesterday.

Significant new features will be available in Office 2019, as compared to Office 2016, that have only been available to Office 365 users.

The difference between Office 2019 and Office 365 is that the former is a one-time purchase without automatic upgrades, while the latter is a user-based subscription service that automatically provides new feature updates and is powered by the Microsoft cloud.

Office 365 is where Microsoft is putting most of its focus, but they also recognize that not all of their customers want the cloud version of Office, which is why they are making many of the current features of Office 365 available in Office 2019.

Let’s go over some of the key new features.

Available Apps in Office 2019

Windows Apps

  • Client Apps
    • Word
    • Excel
    • PowerPoint
    • Outlook
    • OneNote is available but will no longer be installed by default. If you have Office 2016, you won’t notice changes when you update.
    • Publisher
    • Access
    • Project
    • Visio
  • Server Apps
  • Exchange Server
  • SharePoint Server
  • Project Server
  • Skype for Business Server™

Mac Apps

  • Client Apps
    • Word
    • Excel
    • PowerPoint
    • Outlook
    • OneNote

Changes in Office 2019 from Office 2016 for Windows

If you use Mac computers, the changes are a little different than the new features for Windows, and you can read about them on the Microsoft Support site.

Now let’s look at some of the changes Windows users will see in Office 2019.

Better Data Analysis in Excel

Excel users will find a great deal to be excited about in Office 2019. New features include:

  • New Funnel charts
  • New 2D maps
  • New formulas
  • Ability to publish Excel to PowerBI, Microsoft’s business analytics service
  • PowerPivot enhancements (PowerPivot is an add-in that enables enhanced data analysis and data modelling.)
  • Power Query enhancements
Excel 2019

Image from Microsoft

Increased PowerPoint Flexibility

The dazzle of Apple’s Keynote and the non-linear artistry of Prezi can make PowerPoint seem like ancient technology. Microsoft has addressed this with some important new features in Office 2019. These include:

  • Zoom: Zoom is similar to a visual table of contents that enables you to immediately jump and zoom into any slide in the presentation. This allows speakers to go back and forth through the presentation and not be forced to just present linearly.
  • Morph: Morph is a feature that enables sophisticated transitions between slides and seamless animation from slide to slide.
  • Improved use of icons, scalable vector graphics (SVG) and 3D models.
Powerpoint 2019

Image from Microsoft

Tweaks to Word to Help Your Law Firm’s Productivity

  • New text-to-speech features (look for text-to-speech to become even more mainstream than it is already)
  • Learning tool captions and audio descriptions
  • Accessibility and usability improvements
  • A new black theme, which may not make you more productive, but is a cool new interface

Improved Outlook Efficiency

Microsoft has added features to take some of the drudgeries out of managing your email. These include:

  • Updated contact cards
  • Office 365 Groups
  • @mentions
  • Focused inbox
  • Travel and delivery summary cards

Improved Inking Across All Apps

Lawyers who like to use tablets, such as the Microsoft Surface, will be impressed with the improvements made to inking capabilities. You will see:

  • Pressure sensitivity when you use a pen with your tablet
  • Changes in the thickness of the “ink” depending on the angle you hold the pen
  • A better roaming pencil case where you can put your most used pens, pencils and highlighters and “carry” it across your various devices
Inking Office 2019

Image from Microsoft

Specs

You won’t be able to run Office 2019 on old operating systems, but then why would you want to? You will need either Windows 10 or Windows Server 2016 or later; if using a Mac, you’ll need one of the last two versions of the Mac OS.

Is the Upgrade to Office 2019 Worth It?

If you are thinking of moving to Office 365, this may be a good time to do so since it’s possible that Microsoft will stop supporting Office’s perpetual products at some point.

But if you aren’t quite ready to embrace Office 365’s subscription-based model, there are enough new features in Office 2019 to make it worth the upgrade for many law firms.

If you’re looking for other ways to improve the general consistency and accuracy of your firm’s documents, check out our suite of legal productivity software solutions.

Whether it’s legal document creation and formatting, legal document assembly or better managed IT services, we have a solution for your firm.