Microsoft Office 2019: Everything you want to know

Are you eagerly anticipating the release of Microsoft Office 2019? You are not alone. Plenty of others are waiting with bated breath to see what sorts of features will be packed into this brand-new version. As expected, Microsoft has remained pretty tight-lipped about what we can expect to see in regards to Office 2019 features. Despite Microsoft keeping their cards pretty close to the vest but digging through the rumor mill has yielded what features are likely to crop up in this new Office update.

When will Office 2019 be released?

Microsoft has yet to announce an official release date. However, they have mentioned that they are planning on the second half of 2018. Office 2016 was released toward the end of September, so you could speculate that Office 2019 will be released around that same time. But, there is really no way to know for sure when you will be able to get your hands on the latest update.

Commercial, volume-licensing customers can preview Office 2019 before official launch thanks to Microsoft’s Commercial Preview program. To be eligible for the preview, your business needs to be registered with Microsoft Collaborate.

Office 2019 vs. Office 365

While Microsoft has stayed relatively quiet about the specifics of what people can expect in the new Office 2019, they have teased a few features. Many of those features are already offered in Office 365, which has led to some confusion among customers: What exactly is the difference between Office 2019 and Office 365?

Here is the main difference: Office 2019 is a one-time purchase, and you will not receive any feature updates after you buy it. Of course, you will still get standard security and quality updates — but you will see any new tools or functionality added. You will need to be using Windows 10 as your operating system in order to run Office 2019.

In contrast, Office 355 is a subscription-based service. Unlike Office 2019, Office 365 is powered by Microsoft cloud and thus includes more collaborative and up-to-date features than Microsoft’s perpetual software does. Microsoft has channeled much of its recent energy and attention into Office 365 in the cloud, however, they also recognized that not everybody was willing and ready to make that switch.

“Most of our cloud-powered innovation is coming to Office 365 and Microsoft 365,” explains Microsoft in their FAQs about the Office 2019 preview, “However, we know that this is a journey for some customers who cannot move to the cloud in the near term. We want to support all our customers in their journey to the cloud.” Again, many of the features we can expect from Office 2019 are likely already offered via Office 365. But, this perpetual software update is a good way for users who are not ready to move to the cloud to get access to the new tools and functionality.

Office 2019 features we’ll likely see

Again, it is tough to speculate exactly what we should anticipate seeing in the new Office 2019, especially when features in preview or beta mode do not always end up in the final product. But, Microsoft has teased users’ interests with a few interesting features.

1. Word 2019 is focusing on “Getting work done easier,” and new features include: Black theme, Office sounds, Learning tools captions and audio descriptions, Text to speech, Improved inking functionality, and Accessibility improvements.

2. Excel 2019 is focusing on “Performing better data analysis,” and new features include: Funnel charts and 2D maps, New Excel functions and connectors, Publish Excel to PowerBI, PowerPivot enhancements, and PowerQuery enhancements.

When it comes to data management and analysis, Excel still reigns supreme. Office plans to kick things up a notch in the 2019 version of the software.

3. PowerPoint 2019 is focusing on “Creating more impactful content,” and new features include: Zoom capabilities for ordering of slides within presentations, Morph transition feature, Insert and manage Icons, SVG, and 3D models, and Improved roaming pencil case.

Those features are already included in Office 365 ProPlus but are not available to people who are currently operating with Office 2016.

4. Outlook 2019 is focusing on “Managing email more efficiently,” and new features included: Updated contact cards, Office 365 Groups (requires Exchange online account), @mentions, Focused inbox, and Travel and delivery summary cards.

Microsoft is hopeful that these additions will help users manage their email far more efficiently and effectively.

5. Improved inking features. Those who use Microsoft Surface devices are probably already big fans of the digital pen that allow them to draw, note, and doodle directly onto their device’s screen.

Office 2019 will introduce all new inking capabilities across all apps — such as pressure sensitivity, tilt effects that adjust the ink’s thickness depending on the angle of the pen, and even a roaming pencil case, which allows users to store and organize their favorite pens, pencils, and highlighters to roam with them across their different devices.

Office 2019 (perpetual) vs. Office 365 (subscription)

Office 2019 (for both Windows and Mac) is a one-time purchase and does not receive feature updates after purchase. Office 2019 includes a meaningful subset of features found in Office 365, but it is not part of Office 365. Office 2019 will receive quality and security patch updates as required.

Office 365 is a user-based subscription service powered by the Microsoft cloud. It provides access to a suite of services beyond what the perpetual version provides, and receives feature updates on an ongoing basis. Essentially it includes the most collaborative, secure, and up-to-date features.

Why is Microsoft launching Office 2019 when it has shifted its strategy to Office 365 in the cloud?

Most of our cloud-powered innovation is coming to Office 365 and Microsoft 365. However, Microsoft recognizes that some customers cannot move to the cloud in the near term, and they want to support all of their customers in their journey to the cloud, at the pace that makes the most sense to them.

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Microsoft reverses its Skype ‘Classic’ phase-out plan for now

Microsoft is giving its Skype 7.0 ‘Classic’ variant for Windows desktop a temporary reprieve, following many users complaining of its impending September 1 shutdown.

After receiving feedback from a number of unhappy users, Microsoft is going to continue to support Skype 7.0 for some additional period of time.

skypeclassicreprieve.jpg Credit: Microsoft

In mid-July, Microsoft officials said the company planned to drop support for Skype 7.0, also known as Skype “Classic” after September 1. At that time, officials said they would require users to be on Skype 8.0 on Windows desktop, as Skype 7 would no longer work.

Microsoft quietly updated its Microsoft Answers forum on August 6, however, noting that it now planned to extend support for Skype 7.0 “for some time.”

Forum owner “Babs” posted today:

“Based on customer feedback, we are extending support for Skype 7 (Skype classic) for some time. Our customers can continue to use Skype classic until then.

“Thanks for all your comments – we are listening. We are working to bring all the features you’ve asked for into Skype 8.

“Watch this space.”

I asked a Microsoft spokesperson if the support extension is considered the new official policy. No word back yet.

In July, Microsoft acknowledged that Skype 8.0 included many, but not all, of the features in Skype 7.0. Skype 8.0 doesn’t allow users to access individual conversations in separate windows. Version 8.0 does offer free HD video and screen sharing calls, the ability to share photos, videos and other files (up to 300 MB at a time), @mentions and easier access to files, links and photos shared in Skype conversations.


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A number of users have been expressing frustration with Skype 8.0 compared with the Classic version in Microsoft’s support forums.

User “JasonPierce2” posted today, August 6:

“Well I can tell you, (and affirmed after seeing all the negative comments, reviews etc) NEW skype is not meeting peoples needs, and as SO many have issues with it, and as you clearly can not address all of them in time. Can you extend the support for the previous version so that we can continue to use the version we like? I for one can not use new skype for my needs, it simply doesnt work the way I need it too.

“If you cut of the previous version Sept 1st, I know you are going to lose a LOT of users. I am already having to look for an alternative as I simply cant use new skype as it doesnt support my needs like the old one did.

“PLEASE continue support of the previous version and dont force us to change to something that is not making the users happy!”

The aforementioned forum moderator posted about the Skype Classic reprieve in response to JasonPierce2.

Skype 8.0 is available for a number of Windows flavors, including Windows 7, 8.1 and 10. Microsoft also is in the midst of moving its iPad users to version 8.0 of Skype. Skype 8.0 already is available for the Mac, iPhone, some Android phones, and Linux.

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5 reasons I still use a big, heavy desktop that sits in one room while everyone else is going mobile

desktop vs laptop 3 Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

It’s 2018, and I still use a desktop.

In fact, I actively prefer using a desktop over a laptop.

It sounds ridiculous, but desktops make more sense than a laptop for a lot of people. Usually, those people value performance over portability, or they’d rather not pay for a laptop’s comparatively high price tag.

Sure, powerful laptops out there offer the best of both worlds for those who need power and portability. Just hook up a laptop to a monitor if you need a bigger screen and you’re set. Thing is, though, powerful laptops don’t really offer the best of both worlds. They’re often relatively heavy and large, and while they may be powerful, they’re not always as powerful as a desktop with the “same” specs.

Check out why I use a desktop in this day and age:

1/5

You get better performance, even if they have the “same” parts.

You get better performance, even if they have the Lenovo/BestBuy

There’s no two ways about it. A desktop with similar parts as a laptop works faster and smoother.

That’s because desktops usually come with full-size parts that are often more powerful than the similar counterparts designed for laptops. It’s especially noticeable with processors and a computer’s overall speed.

Laptops may come with processors that have similar model numbers, but they’re rarely as powerful as the desktop counterparts.

For example, my 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro has an Intel Core i7 6700HQ with four cores. The “HQ” is Intel’s line of high-performance mobile processors, so it’s the top of the line model for laptops. Meanwhile, my desktop has an Intel Core i7 6700, also with four cores. You’d think both computers would have similar performance because they have the same model number, but they don’t. My desktop is noticeably smoother and faster because its full-size desktop processor is more powerful, despite having the same model number as the processor inside my MacBook Pro. In fact, my desktop’s processor is up to 28% more powerful than my laptop’s, according to benchmarks , which is a pretty significant difference.

2/5

Even when laptops and desktops are evenly matched in performance, desktops tend to be significantly less expensive.

Even when laptops and desktops are evenly matched in performance, desktops tend to be significantly less expensive. Dell/BestBuy

Let’s compare a desktop and a laptop from Dell, both with Core i5 8400 processors that perform pretty similarly, according to benchmarks .

For reference, here are the specs for both computers:

Laptop:

  • Intel Core i5 8400H (high-performance series)
  • 8GB RAM
  • 500GB hard drive

Desktop:

  • Intel Core i5 8400
  • 8GB Ram
  • 1 terabyte hard drive

3/5

For most laptops, you’re stuck with their specs until it’s time to upgrade to a new model. Desktops can be upgraded pretty easily.

For most laptops, you're stuck with their specs until it's time to upgrade to a new model. Desktops can be upgraded pretty easily. Antonio Villas-Boas/Tech Insider

You can upgrade several parts in a desktop that you can’t always upgrade in a laptop, which means you can buy individual parts for a desktop to match your needs instead of buying a whole new laptop.

For example, if you’re finding that your web browser tabs are taking up all your desktop’s RAM, you have the option to add more RAM on a desktop. Some laptops let you upgrade parts like RAM, but not all of them.

Or, say you want to add a graphics card for visual work or playing games. You can get a graphics card for a desktop. Usually, laptops don’t let you upgrade the graphics chip.

The same thing goes for storage. I can add several extra hard drives or SSDs in a desktop, when laptops usually only let you upgrade the single hard drive or SSD they come with.

It looks daunting, but it’s surprisingly easy , and there are several YouTube videos that show you exactly how to upgrade parts in a desktop (and laptops, for that matter).

4/5

You can buy a great secondary laptop or tablet for times when you need to be mobile with the money you’d be saving by buying a desktop.

You can buy a great secondary laptop or tablet for times when you need to be mobile with the money you'd be saving by buying a desktop. GaudiLab/Shutterstock.com

As you’d expect, using a desktop means staying at a desk. But you’re not limited to a single computer if you want a desktop. You can always get an inexpensive laptop for those times when you need the mobility. If you need to go mobile, you can use the money you save from buying a desktop for a portable laptop or tablet.

5/5

Desktops are usually associated with being big, bulky, and heavy, but some desktops aren’t big at all, or they come with built-in screens.

Desktops are usually associated with being big, bulky, and heavy, but some desktops aren't big at all, or they come with built-in screens. Lenovo

There are some pretty slim and small desktops you buy or build yourself that can fit around your work area without taking up too much space.

Most computer companies, including Apple, sell all-in-one desktops where the entire computer is built into the screen enclosure. These are great if you want to avoid messy wires everywhere and want a neat package.

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Hackers charged with stealing 15 million credit, debit card numbers

WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors revealed Wednesday that three men are now in custody, charged in a massive hacking operation that targeted businesses in 47 states and stole the credit and debit card numbers of more than 15 million people.
Annette Hayes, the U.S. attorney in Seattle, said the three were part of a group that called itself FIN7 and used computer malware to steal customer card numbers from the point-of-sale terminals at more than 3,600 business locations. “The total loss so far is in the tens of millions of dollars.”
Outlets of more than 100 U.S. companies were hit in all but three states — Alaska, Hawaii, and South Dakota — by sending e-mail messages claiming to request information about catering. Targeted employees were urged to open an attachment, which launched the malicious computer code into the company’s systems.
Some victim companies have previously acknowledged that they were attacked, including Chipotle Mexican Grill, Chili’s, Arby’s, and Red Robin restaurants. The hackers also targeted casinos and hotels, the FBI said.
The FBI’s special agent-in-charge in Seattle, Jay Tabb, said many of the stolen customer card numbers later turned up for sale on the dark web, and some were used to make unauthorized charges.
Hayes said the three hackers are from Ukraine. One, Fedir Hladyr was arrested by authorities in Germany at the request of the US and sent to Seattle for trial. His arrest was kept secret until the other two were detained overseas — Dmytro Fedorov in Poland and Andrii Koplakov in Spain. The Justice Department is seeking their extradition to face the charges in the U.S.
The FBI said the group used a front company, Combi Security, which claimed to have headquarters in Russia and Israel to give it the appearance of legitimacy.
But Tabb said there is no information linking the hackers to a state sponsor. “This is good, old-fashioned organized crime.”
Computer security firm FireEye said it has been monitoring the FIN7 group since 2015, noting that the hackers showed unusual skill at encouraging target companies to open e-mails that would launch their attacks. “At individual stores, managers were contacted about lost items or sent a ‘receipt’ claiming overcharging,” the company said Wednesday.
FireEye called the three Ukrainians “members of one of the most prolific financial threat groups of this decade.”

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Microsoft Edge is killing off passwords with a big new update

All users need to log online now is Microsoft's new web authenticator, which relies on fingerprints, facial recognition, and special PINs.

All users need to log online now is Microsoft’s new web authenticator, which relies on fingerprints, facial recognition, and special PINs.

Microsoft Edge just got a little easier to use.

The web browser developed by Microsoft announced yesterday in a blog post that users no longer need passwords to log onto their favorite websites. All they need is Microsoft’s new web authenticator to get in, which relies on fingerprints, facial recognition, and special PINs.

This new feature accessible via Windows Hello is akin to Google’s and Firefox’s authenticators, which launched months ago. So while it’s revolutionary for Microsoft, the tech company is pretty far behind. No wonder Edge only holds 4.19 percent of the market share as of publishing time.

Microsoft rolled this out as part of its web without passwords campaign, founded on the company’s ideology that passwords are an “ancient security model.”

“But passwords are difficult to remember, and are fundamentally insecure — often re-used, and vulnerable to phishing and cracking,” reads the announcement penned by two of the company’s program managers.

“With Web Authentication, Microsoft Edge users can sign in with their face, fingerprint, PIN, or portable FIDO2 devices, leveraging strong public-key credentials instead of passwords.”

The purely virtual nature of Web Authenticator means if someone gets ahold of your device, the interloper has no way of getting in, since there is no longer a system on the device to hack. Its entire security process is essentially outsourced to Microsoft as a third party.

Microsoft a couple weeks earlier even published a web developer guide on how to code such a security tool.

Web Authentication on Microsoft Edge will become available to everyone once Microsoft ships Windows 10 version 1809, predicted to launch before the year ends.

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Microsoft Brings Web Authentication to Its Edge Browser

By adding web authentication capabilities, Microsoft says it wants to bolster security for Edge browser users.

Microsoft Edge

Microsoft’s Edge web browser now includes support for user authentication using facial recognition, fingerprints, PIN numbers or authenticated mobile devices as a replacement for outdated and less secure password-based log-ins.

Starting with Microsoft Edge build 17723, the browser now supports the new password-less web authentication specifications from W3C, according to a July 30 post on the Microsoft Windows Blogs. By improving user authentication processes, enterprises will be able to provide more secure user experiences and transactions through websites, vastly improving security across the internet, according to Microsoft.

The integration of the password-less specifications in the latest Edge browser has been a goal of the browser since 2016, when Microsoft shipped its first preview implementation of the web authentication API in Edge, wrote Angelo Liao, the program manager for Microsoft Edge, and Ibrahim Damlaj, the program manager for Windows Security, in the post.

“All this data is protected by an ancient security model—the password,” they wrote. “But passwords are difficult to remember, and are fundamentally insecure—often re-used, and vulnerable to phishing and cracking.”

That’s why Microsoft has been working to move away from passwords in the Edge browser and replace them with biometric and other forms of authentication, Liao and Damlaj wrote. The company has been working with the FIDO Alliance and others to develop the new standards for improved security online. In March, the FIDO Alliance announced that the Web Authentication APIs had reached Candidate Recommendation (CR) status in the W3C, readying them for use.

The latest build 17723 of Edge now supports that CR version of the web authentication specifications.

“Our implementation provides the most complete support for web authentication to date, with support for a wider variety of authenticators than other browsers,” wrote Liao and Damlaj. “With Windows Hello face recognition, users can log in to sites that support web authentication in seconds, with just a glance.”

Windows Hello users can also be authenticated without a password on any Windows 10 device using fingerprint recognition or a PIN number to sign in to websites.

The FIDO2 Project is working to create a FIDO Authentication standard for the web that works with FIDO-certified devices to help provide user authentications as well. Users will also be able to use external FIDO2 security keys to authenticate themselves with a removable device and their biometrics or PIN number.

Websites that are not ready to move to a completely password-less model are expected to have backward compatibility with FIDO devices so a strong second authentication factor can be used in addition to a password.

The introduction of these password-less authentication systems and processes is continuing with a myriad of industry partners, the post continued. “Password-less authentication experiences like this are the foundation of a world without passwords.”

Developers who want to dive more deeply into web authentication in Microsoft Edge can peruse Microsoft’s Web Authentication dev guide, or install Windows Insider Preview build 17723 or higher to try it for themselves.

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Windows 10’s Your Phone app: Take pic on Android phone, see it pop up on your PC

Pics on Android phones will soon sync with Windows PCs, removing the need to transfer photos via email or USB.

Microsoft’s latest strategy for more deeply integrating Windows 10 PCs with smartphones centers on its forthcoming Your Phone Windows app for Android and iPhone owners.

The new app will work with the latest Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 17728 for Redstone 5 that came to Windows Insiders in the Fast ring yesterday.

The Your Phone app is “coming soon”, according to Microsoft, and will allow Windows Insiders on that build to immediately see a picture they take using an Android phone on their Windows 10 PC.

That’s a little like photos taken on an iPhone immediately appearing in the Photos app on macOS.

For Android users with Windows 10, it will help cut out the need to email yourself or transfer photos via USB cords or other methods. Microsoft first announced the app at its Build 2018 conference.

Microsoft says the app will allow photos on Android phones to sync with the Windows 10 PC and makes it easier to edit pics with Windows Ink by dragging and dropping pictures from the Recent Photos folder.


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“And rolling out in the coming weeks, Android users might also start to notice a desktop pin taking you directly to Your Phone app — for quicker access to your phone’s content,” notes Microsoft’s Dona Sarkar and Brandon LeBlanc.

Though not mentioned in the blog, Microsoft at Build showed the Your Phone app also sending and receiving text messages, editing and sharing a photo from the phone, and checking notifications without having to take the phone out of your pocket.

Microsoft is providing Android users on Android 7.0 and up with the app, which needs to be installed for the feature to work on the next version of Windows 10, due out around October.

The Your Phone app for iPhone behaves a little differently, and somewhat like some of Apple’s iCloud-powered hand-off and continuity features.

“Surf the web on your phone, then send the webpage instantly to your computer to pick up where you left off to continue what you’re doing — read, watch, or browse with all the benefits of a bigger screen. With a linked phone, continuing on your PC is one share away,” explain Sarkar and Le Blanc.

The Your Phone app was presented as part of Microsoft’s other Windows mobile-to-PC effort, which brought additional cross-device features via Timeline in the April 2018 Update through the Edge app for iOS.

Basically, you can open a page from Edge on an iOS device in Edge on a Windows 10 PC. Again, this is aimed both at giving convenience to Android and iOS users with Windows 10 PCs, but also at encouraging Windows 10 users to actually use Edge.

All this investment in connecting Windows 10 to Android and iOS of course might not have been necessary had its Windows Phone venture not failed.

And on the issue of stopping Windows 10 users changing the default Edge browser on Windows 10 to Chrome or Firefox, Microsoft yesterday announced its WebAuthn Windows Hello biometric sign-in for Edge, which gives Edge a password-free way of signing into websites and some motivation for using it.

If that can convince more users to keep Edge as the default, that would also go some way to making the Edge app for iOS and Android more compelling.

On Android, Edge currently only has about five million downloads compared with Windows 10, which has “nearly” 700 million users. However, that five million is a fairly impressive increase from the mere one million it had in May.

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