Microsoft today launched Office 2016 Preview, making it available to download for users who want to get an early look at the latest iteration of the company's productivity suite. This new version includes several new features for home and business users, and is designed to work seamlessly across a wide range of devices, including Apple's iPad, Mac OS X, and Android tablets.
New Office 2016 Features
There are several new features coming to Office 2016, which are aimed at both users at home and in the workplace. Here's a look at some of the more notable items of interest for end users.
Real-time Collaboration will allow users to co-author documents with others straight from within the application. You'll be able to see where each author is in the document and the changes being made as they occur. Real-time collaboration is already available in Office web apps, but now comes directly to your desktop.
Modern Attachments in Outlook will now allow users to attach files from OneDrive and automatically configure the permissions the recipient will have, all without having to leave Outlook.
Smart Applications have been added and are designed to "learn" as you work. For example, Clutter is an Exchange feature that now works directly with Outlook for home users. It uses machine learning to analyze email patterns and de-clutter your inbox based on the priority of messages. Meanwhile, the new Tell Me search tool available in Word, PowerPoint, and Excel brings up commands you're looking for by simply typing what you want to do. Another Smart Application is Insights. This is powered by Bing and lets you highlight text to find more information about it via the web, without having to open a separate browser.
Microsoft promises that new Excel data analysis will be faster and let you pull, map, analyze and visualize your data more easily. It will also include one-click forecasting based on your data series, along with the inclusion of Power Query, Power Pivot functionality, and new modern charts and graphs.
To install the Office 2016 Preview, you don't need to be part of the Windows Insiders program for testing Windows 10, but you do need a PC running Windows 7 or higher. Also, you cannot have Office 2013 and 2016 installed side-by-side, so you will need to uninstall Office 2013 first.
This preview isn't meant for the average user, but rather enthusiasts and power users who are familiar with Microsoft Office. The final version is expected to be released later this Northern Hemisphere autumn, following the expected launch of Windows 10 this Northern summer.
If you're keen to start testing it out and providing feedback to Microsoft, head to the Microsoft Office 2016 Preview page to get started.