On Monday, Microsoft offered IT professionals an inside look at Office 2016 for Windows, the next version of Office.
Windows developers have also been allowed to take a peek, the company announced.
This Windows preview was released more than a week after the Mac Office 2016 preview was. The Mac version is facing more competition from Apple, who in recent months has ramped up efforts to make iWork a bigger competitor to Office and Google Apps.
The other interesting thing is that Microsoft is currently restricting this peek to businesses that already use the cloud version of Office, Office 365, indicating that they are its first-class citizens.
As far as new features go, Microsoft showcased the ones that will make IT pros happy:
- Better ways to protect sensitive Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents from being lost, stolen or hacked (in geek speak: data loss protection).
- Making Outlook faster yet smaller, so email messages load quicker but take up less storage.
- better management features so IT pros can apply patches faster, use their other Microsoft PC security and management tools with Office and so on.
- No changes to macros. The update won’t impact all those important, programmed Excel spreadsheets or Word documents turned into forms.
This will also be the first version of Office for Windows designed from the get-go for tablets and touchscreens, although it’s not clear how much of the new tablet look-and-feel these preview versions will show off. In the blog post, Microsoft’s Kirk Koenigsbauer didn’t mention touch and warned, “This early build doesn’t yet contain all the features we’re planning to ship in the final product.”
Part of the bargain when you pay for the cloud is that you automatically get the latest upgrades with no effort on your part. Microsoft updates its cloud and poof!, you have the latest.
But with Office 365, many business opt to get the downloadable version of Office to install on their corporate PCs, too. So they will want to see, test and offer feedback on Office 2016 before they take on the task of installing it on everyone’s PCs, and, perhaps, buying new PCs and tablets to run it.
The blog post didn’t share any pictures of Office 2016, but last month Microsoft offered a peek at some of the new touch-friendly Office Apps that will be included for free on smaller Windows 10 devices. Seems likely the full-blown paid-for Office 2016 versions will look similar.
This is what the new, free Word for Windows 10 looks like: