Overview for Microsoft Office 2021

Beginning the week of November 1, 2021, all ICC campus computers will begin a process to upgrade the locally installed version of Office 2016 to Office 2021. Following are some answers to questions:

Why are we doing this now?

Currently, 99% of the computers at ICC are running Office 2016 which includes Outlook 2016. Outlook 2016 has reached End-Of-Life for accessing our Microsoft 365 Exchange mail services. In a few more months, Outlook 2016 will no longer be able to access our email services.

What is the difference between Microsoft 365 and Office 2021?

It is important to distinguish Office 2021 from Microsoft 365. At ICC, Microsoft Office 2016 is currently installed locally on your ICC computer. Our Office 2021 upgrade only impacts your locally installed Office 2016. If you use the cloud-based Office 365 apps. (via your browser), you are using a different set of Office software. Those cloud-based Office applications are not being upgraded, only the Office 2016 software installed locally on your ICC computer is being upgraded.

When Office 2016 was first released at the end of 2015, the locally installed version and the Office 365 cloud version had the same features. But the two soon diverged. Microsoft began rolling out new features to Office 365 that the Office 2016 version didn’t get.

When Office 2019 was released three years later (not currently installed on ICC computers), it included some, but not all the features that the cloud Office 365 had at that time. Since then, Office 2019 has remained static, while the cloud version of Office 365/Microsoft 365 has continued to get new features.

This year, Office 2021 is no different. The new Office 2021 release gets a handful of features that were already present in Office 365/Microsoft 365, but many other features have been left out. A handful of new features from Office 365/Microsoft 365 are being added to Office 2021, but many other features are still left out.

What are the latest features of Office 2021 being installed on your computer?

Several new improvements and enhancements will be coming in Office 2021:

  • Real-time collaboration: Office 2021 includes some Google Doc-style collaboration features that allow for real-time collaboration through OneDrive. As early as in Office 2016, Microsoft advertised a key feature called real-time collaboration, but a complete real-time collaborative editing experience was exclusively for Office 365 in the cloud, not the local version. With Office 2021, as long as the collaborative documents are stored on Microsoft's cloud storage service OneDrive, all three desktop clients (Word/Excel/PowerPoint) can finally perform real-time collaborative editing. Everyone working on the document will see the changes made by others.
  • Microsoft Teams: Office 2021 users can also get access to Microsoft Teams, a redesigned look for the apps, and features previously exclusive to (cloud) Microsoft 365 like advanced grammar suggestions and Presenter Coach in PowerPoint. You can chat directly from within Office or join a Teams video call. Note that the version of Teams included in Office 2021 is not a full business version and lacks features such as searching channels and message archives. 2 | Page
  • Windows 11 look and feel: Office 2021 is getting a visual update, much like Windows 11. It has a rounded window, a more neutral color palette, and an overall “softer” more neutral appearance. Despite its new look, Office 2021 will continue to run on Windows 10.
  • Excel: Microsoft has added several new functions including XMatch, LET, Dynamic Arrays, and XLookup. XLookup for instance, allows you to find any data within a table by using a search bar-like function, and LET will allow you to assign names to calculation results.
  • Outlook: There is a new translator in Outlook that will translate messages on the fly, and a new global search that allows you to find emails across all your folders and email accounts with several search parameters.

Below is a compiled listing of Office 2021 enhancements:

  • Excel • XLOOKUP function – helps find things in a table or range by row in an Excel worksheet. • Dynamic array support - new functions in Excel that use dynamic arrays. • LET function – an Excel feature that lets you assign names to calculation results. • XMATCH function – this function searches for a specified item in an array or range of cells and returns the item’s relative position. • OpenDocument format (ODF) 1.3 support • Updated Draw tab • Performance improvements
  • PowerPoint • Record Slide Show – this new PowerPoint feature includes presenter video recording, ink recording and laser pointer recording. • Replay your ink strokes – if you’re using ink in PowerPoint, you can now replay illustrations as they were drawn. • Arrange elements on your slides for screen readers – this lets you re-arrange elements to optimize them for screen readers. • OpenDocument format (ODF) 1.3 support • Updated Draw tab • Performance improvements
  • Outlook • Translator and ink – You can now annotate emails, draw in a canvas for messages, or translate emails into more than 70 languages. • Instant search – search results are now instant, with more ways to refine and filter results. • Performance improvements
  • Word • OpenDocument format (ODF) 1.3 support • Updated Draw tab • Performance improvement


Article ID: 4711
Wed 3/30/22 4:33 PM
Tue 8/9/22 7:04 PM