Lexicon Systems, LLC Blog

lex'•i•con: the vocabulary of a branch of knowledge. Thoughts on environment, health & safety (EHS), sustainability and information technology to support them.


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Office 2016 for Mac available to Cloud subscribers

Late last week, Microsoft made the long-awaited Office 2016 for Mac available to Office 365 subscribers. The last Mac version was in 2011. Is the new software suite worth the five-year wait?

Microsoft says the software is “unmistakably Office, designed for Mac.”

Microsoft’s July 9 announcement: Office 2016 for Mac is here!

Per Microsoft’s blog post, Office for Mac is now available to Office 365 subscribers (annual subscription fee) , and will be available for stand-alone purchase (one-time license fee) in September.

Simple installation

This afternoon, I installed the software on my MacBook Pro Retina. The installation package

  • includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote,
  • requires less than 2 GB of hard disk space, and
  • takes less than five minutes to install.
Install Office 2016 for Mac from the Microsoft Office 365 portal

Install Office 2016 for Mac from the Microsoft Office 365 portal

The new Office applications integrate with the OneDrive Cloud app. Through Cloud integration, you can start a document or spreadsheet on one device–say your laptop–and then view or edit it on your tablet or smartphone. You can share files and collaborate with others. When you save files to the Cloud, you do not have to worry about which version is the latest.

Decades of experience demand full-featured software

I have used Microsoft Office more than any other office productivity suite. Having used PCs of all shapes and sizes for decades, I have tried a number of office productivity software suites. I started with VisiWord/VisiCalc and Lotus 1-2-3. I graduated to IBM DisplayWrite and WordPerfect. Then I earned my “Master’s” in Microsoft Office. And, most recently, I learned Apple iWork (Pages, Numbers and Keynote) and Apple Mail basics.

I am a recent Mac convert. We Mac users like the clean, simple-to-use hardware, and want full-featured software that provides a great user experience.

I eagerly loaded the Office 2016 for Mac beta onto my MacBook Pro this spring. Its interface was, very Windows-like and familiar. That was good. But the software lacked several features I thought should be standard all users–Windows and Mac. With Macs becoming more and more popular in the business world, it’s time for feature equality.

Microsoft says that they received significant input from Mac users during the Office for Mac redesign.

My MacBook, which rarely crashes, did just that repeatedly with the Office 2016 beta. When my expense report spreadsheet–a simple Excel table–was corrupted by the beta, I could not open it with Excel of any version. I opened it with Apple’s Numbers, and reconverted it to Excel. A major inconvenience with time lost, but I did not lose the data altogether. I had to revert to the Office 2011 for Mac software. Ugh!

First impressions

Will Office 2016 for Mac live up to my expectations as a person who cut my teeth on the Windows versions? Time will tell…

You can read TechRepublic’s first impressions on the new software here and see what’s new here.

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Microsoft rebranded its Cloud service (again)

What’s in a name?

A couple of years ago I started to use the Microsoft #Live Cloud storage solution to collaborate with project team members across the U.S. Then Microsoft Live morphed into Microsoft #SkyDrive and used a nifty cloud logo. Microsoft was sued over copyright infringement and had to change the name. This month, Microsoft changed the name of its cloud service from SkyDrive to #OneDrive. I hope that the auto parts manufacturer with the same name does not take issue with Microsoft.

Microsoft OneDriveOneDrive is a cloud-based collaboration tool. It allows allows users to store and access files from virtually any internet-capable device–smartphone, laptop PC, tablet, ChromeBook, Mac, or desktop. Users can elect which “folders” to share with others. Microsoft Office 365 subscribers get 100 GB of OneDrive storage space free; those without Office 356 can get 7 GB free; subscribers can pay for additional storage space.

Good news, bad news

The bad news: repeated name changes confuse the market. The good news: Microsoft offered extra Gigabytes of free storage space to “legacy” users to compensate them for the inconvenience. And users can earn extra free storage space by referring friends.

View an eWeek slide show about #OneDrive here.


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The paperless office: are we there yet?

The other day I tackled overstuffed file drawers and the papers piled on my desk. I filed, recycled or shredded several reams of outdated documents. During this exercise (it was pretty physical), I noticed that my company saved fewer paper records in the last few years than when we started the business. Likely, we continue to retain more printed paper than needed. How much is enough?

office clutter

Image: USA Today

We are far from the “paperless office.” Running a management consulting firm with an environment, health & safety (EHS) IT focus, one might think that most transactions are electronic, not paper. We send essentially all work products electronically and print some of them. We use accounting software and print invoices and reports for our records, even if delivered electronically to clients. We receive electronic documents from others, and print some of those, too. Each party seems to save time, printing and postage costs. Are we reducing paper use, or just shifting the burden to others?

 “Less is More” aptly describes paper records. Lack of trust in electronic records may cause us to use more paper than necessary.

In businesses large and small, email remains the most common transmission method. Email is inefficient because it allows multiple document copies, versions and “message threads,” not to mention redundant storage. With so many email attachments, which version is the correct one?

I prefer shared workspaces to email and have promoted their use for many years. Collaboration tools like Google Documents, Microsoft Office 365, SharePoint and Zoho are gaining acceptance in large, global organizations. These tools are worth every penny when they

  • promote consistent business processes,
  • increase productivity,
  • make content readily available,
  • provide a “single version of the truth,”
  • have a user-friendly interface, and
  • offer a secure way for people to interact 24/7.

Collaboration tools are in their infancy and have limitations. Often, the tools seem easy to administer but require multiple attempts to properly set user permissions. Often, their interfaces and features are so simplistic that they do not meet user needs. For instance,

  • online document editors are simpler (read: less functional) than desktop office software.
  • document work spaces have limited functionality without customization.
  • calendars are rudimentary.
  • survey tools are rudimentary with few data analysis features.

Software vendors, please make tools more functional, yet keep them simple!  And offer me more FREE Cloud storage space, so I do not need several Cloud accounts to manage my work.

I welcome more mature, yet user-friendly collaboration tools.  With increasing content management in the Cloud, we can better manage day-to-day work. The result? Less paper, I hope!

Pixel This: No Paper! sums up the “paperless office” issue pretty well.