It’s official: Microsoft will launch Office 2016 for Windows on September 22, with volume licensing downloads following on October 1. Additionally, Microsoft has revealed how it plans to keep the suite updated moving forward.
“Office 2016 for Windows is a seminal release for Office and one you won’t want to wait to deploy to your users, and thanks to the many new IT management enhancements, you don’t need to wait,” Microsoft’s Julia White writes in a new post to the Office Blogs. “We’ve enhanced the upgrade and installation experience, and for Office 365 subscribers, we’ve made changes to how the 2016 apps are updated moving forward. We’re also delivering new tools and resources to help you prepare, deploy and manage Office.”
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Here’s what’s happening.
If you’re familiar with the Office 365 ProPlus offering—basically a subscription version of the Office applications only for businesses—Microsoft is formally taking its monthly feature and security update model and renaming it to Current Branch (making it consistent with Windows). So the next Current Branch update is coming on September 22, and it will provide an upgrade from Office 2013 to Office 2016.
Microsoft is also adding another updating branch called Current Branch for Business. This will allow organizations to wait a few months before rolling out monthly updates. Under this plan, security updates will arrive monthly, but the feature updates will be bundled into three cumulative updates throughout the year. So customers won’t have to update to Office 2016 until February 2016 under this model.
To be clear, these updating models apply only to Office 365 for businesses. If you’re using a consumer version of Office 365—Home or Personal—you can get Office 2016 as part of your subscription starting on September 22, and automatic updates will roll out the new suite starting in October.
Going forward, Office 365 will also begin deliver updates using Microsoft’s Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS), helping to minimize network bandwidth. And Office 2016 supports new deployment and management options, support for Data Loss Prevention across all of the suite’s applications, multi-factor authentication, and more.