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
Skype for Business Server™
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
Ability to publish Excel to Microsoft’s business analytics service
PowerPivot enhancements (is an add-in that enables enhanced data analysis and data modelling.)
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.
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
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
Image from Microsoft
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.