Office 2016 for Windows is nearly out of beta, announced Julia White, general manager of Microsoft Office 365 Technical Product Management, today. Office 2016 for Mac was released to Office 365 customers in July.
"You may have heard the rumors, but today I'm happy to confirm that Office 2016 will be broadly available starting on Sept. 22," stated White in a Sept. 10 announcement. "If you have a volume licensing agreement in place, you can download Office 2016 from the Volume Licensing Service Center starting Oct. 1," she went on to inform enterprises that purchase the software in bulk.
Microsoft released a preview version of the software to IT professionals and developers on March 16 to prepare them for the release of the popular productivity suite. Not only does Office 2016 offer a more modern, collaborative and cloud-connected user experience—Microsoft has been working to integrate Office with its business software ecosystem including Dynamics CRM—it contains features that help businesses better manage and protect their Office content.
Office 2016 now supports Microsoft's data loss prevention (DLP) technology, which the company already implemented on Exchange, Outlook, SharePoint and its OneDrive for Business cloud file storage service. The feature now enables administrators to set and enforce policies concerning document sharing and editing in Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
In terms of email security, Outlook now supports multi-factor authentication, courtesy of the Active Directory Authentication Library (ADAL). The updated email client also now supports the MAPI-HTTP protocol and boasts performance enhancements made possible by the elimination of foreground network calls and integrating the FAST search engine technology in Exchange.
To help organizations better manage Microsoft's monthly Office feature and security update releases, White announced a new Current Branch for Business option for administrators.
"Consistent with Windows 10 approach, the new Current Branch for Business update model delivers three cumulative feature updates per year, while continuing to offer monthly security updates," she explained. "You'll see the first Current Branch for Business build in February 2016—which is effectively the same feature set as the Sept. 22 release, but with four additional months of security updates also included."
In welcome news for heavily customized Office deployments, White said that macros or add-ins should carry over to the new software seamlessly. "If you've been evaluating the preview, you would have seen that most of the tools and processes for managing and deploying Office 365 ProPlus (15.x) versions are very consistent with Office 2016," she said.
For administrators needing to catch up on Office's new capabilities, Microsoft will showcase the software as part of a new event series for IT professionals and developers. Called the Microsoft Cloud Roadshow, the 12-city series will kick off in Dallas on Nov. 2, before hitting New York, Toronto, Singapore, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Dubai, Bangalore, London, Copenhagen and Hong Kong. The two-day events "are free to attend, and we'll be bringing top engineers from Microsoft to lead the training sessions," White said.