Office 2016 launch date revealed

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Beefed-up security, new release cycle coming in weeks.

Microsoft has revealed recently that Office 2016 will launch within two weeks, hitting the streets on 22 September.

According to a blog from Julia White, general manager of Office 365 technical product management, the 2016 version will have a range of security features, which include support for data loss prevention across the Office 2016 applications, multi-factor authentication and “other mission critical control capabilities”.

Security concerns will also be reduced thanks to Microsoft’s new ‘branches’ approach to the upgrade cycle, which went live first with Windows 10 and sees consumer and business users separately receive the latest versions.

Most consumers sit on the current branch, the first group to get updated. Next comes the current branch for business, getting three cumulative feature updates per year as well as monthly security updates, meeting the requirements of typically conservative enterprise customers that hold off before taking the plunge with a new version.

The current branch of Office 2016 goes live on 22 September. Users on the Office 365 ProPlus plan will automatically get access to the latest functionality and features.

The current branch for business will roll out in February 2016, with effectively the same features set but with “four additional months of security updates also included”.

In October, Office 365 Personal and Office 365 Home users will be able to download individual apps from the Internet on 22 September, with automatic updates to start rolling out in.

On October 1, users on volume licences will be able to download the new version from the Volume Licensing Service Centre.

In May, Office 2016 has been in preview since the Chicago leg of the Ignite conference.

Many of the new characters have already been unveiled, including a major overhaul of Outlook, with a new way to work with attachments and sharing cloud files. Outlook 2016 also brings the new clutter feature, an automated way to fight back against the email overload problem.

Across the Office suite, the new ‘Tell Me’ box provides users with quick access to help on making better use of Office 2016, while Microsoft will introduce a new presentation app Sway, an alternative to PowerPoint.

White explained in her blog that Microsoft had “addressed a number of the other top IT requests in Office 365 ProPlus, including deployment support for Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) to help control network traffic when deploying updates”.

The vendor also announced a new IT and developer-focused event series, the Microsoft Cloud Roadshow. It will take in 12 stops around the world, though Australia is not on the list (the closest leg will be Singapore on 7-8 December).

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