Microsoft today launched a public preview version of Office 2016 that is aimed at IT pros and developers. The release follows a months-long private beta and of course a similar public preview for Office 2016 for Mac.
The Office 2016 IT Pro and Developer Preview, as it’s called, includes a number of new features, though Microsoft is for now just focusing on some of the valuable updates for IT pros and developers. More on that in a second. First, the obvious question: should you install the preview?
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Only if you know what you’re getting into.
My personal policy—which I have never and would never advise to others—of just installing every software release that comes down the pike has really bit me on ass with this one. Excited to finally install a legit copy of Office 2016—a leak build appeared over the weekend but was obviated by the public preview—I of course dived in. And over four hours of stupidity later, I will need to reinstall Windows to set this right.
I know, I know. Some of you are positive that there is a way around this. It doesn’t matter. I’ve system restored and done multiple manual uninstalls of Office 2013, and nothing works. Don’t worry about it: I’ll be back up and running quickly. The important thing to get from this situation is to be careful. Yes, it’s exciting to finally try an up-to-date look at the Office. But maybe you should consider doing so in a VM or on a second PC. If you do install it, I recommend uninstalling any current Office version first. And install the x64 version if you’re on an x64-based version of Windows, which most are today. It seems to have a higher success rate.
One of the big reported features in this build is a new “colorful” mode that sort of emulates the mobile app versions of Office, where the tops of each app are color-coded. So Word is blue, Excel is green and so on. But today, Microsoft is just focusing on IT pro and developer features in the preview. And those include:
Data Loss Protection (DLP). After adding DLP to Exchange, Outlook, OneDrive for Business and SharePoint, Microsoft is now bringing its content authoring and document sharing policy capabilities to Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
Outlook. In Office 2016, Outlook picks up MAPI-HTTP protocol support (replacing RPC-based sync), multi-factor authentication support, improved search, better email delivery performance, improved responsiveness on unreliable networks, and the ability to better manage storage by choosing to retain only 1, 3, 7, 14 or 30 days of mail on the PC.
Click-to-Run deployment. Office 365 customers will see better network traffic management during Setup, improved integration with System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) for efficiently downloading and distributing monthly Office updates, more flexible update management, and simplified device activation management for admins.
Accessibility. Microsoft has added a new darker theme for those with visual impairments and has improved keyboard accessibility for high-value Excel features like PivotTables and Slicers. Additionally, it says it has “addressed a number of readability issues in Outlook.”
Information Rights Management (IRM). IRM protection has been extended to Visio files, enabling both online and offline protection of Visio diagrams.
If you’re ready to get started, head on over to the Office 2016 Preview site on Microsoft Connect and sign-up. I’ll get it going as soon as I reinstall Windows.