Microsoft announces IT Pro and Developer Preview of Office 2016

Microsoft announces IT Pro and Developer Preview of Office 2016

Beginning today in Atlanta, GA Microsoft is kicking off their Convergence 2015 conference.

The event begins with a keynote from Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella and one of the first things he will share with the gathering is the availability of the Office 2016 Preview.

According to a blog post on the Office blog by Kirk Koenigsbauer, Corporate VP for the Office 365 Client Apps and Services team, the software has been in a private preview program for several months and they are ready to expand this to a public preview directed towards IT Pro’s and developers.

To be clear, this early build doesn’t yet contain all the features we’re planning to ship in the final product. However, through the course of the preview, customers should expect to see new features delivered through monthly updates.

Some of the enhancements he mentioned included:

- Data Loss Prevention (DLP): With these new capabilities, IT admins can centrally create, manage and enforce polices for content authoring and document sharing—and end users will see policy tips or sharing restrictions when the apps detect a potential policy violation.

- Outlook: MAPI-HTTP protocol. We’ve replaced the RPC-based sync with a new Internet-friendly MAPI-HTTP protocol that supports Exchange/Outlook connectivity. Foreground network calls. We’ve eliminated the use of foreground network calls to ensure that Outlook stays responsive on unreliable networks. Multi-factor authentication. With this release of the Outlook client, we’ll support multi-factor authentication through integration with the Active Directory Authentication Library (ADAL). Email delivery performance. We’ve reduced the amount of time it takes to download messages, display the message list, and show new email after resuming from hibernation. Lean storage footprint. We’ve added settings that allow users to better manage storage by only retaining 1, 3, 7, 14 or 30 days of mail on the device. Search. We’ve improved the reliability, performance, and usability of Outlook search, and integrated the FAST-based search engine in Exchange.

- Click-to-Run Deployment: Better network traffic management. We’re introducing a new Background Intelligence Transfer Service (BITS) to help prevent congestion on the network. BITS throttles back the use of bandwidth when other critical network traffic is present. Enhanced distribution management. We’re improving our integration with System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) to allow IT admins to efficiently download and distribute monthly Office updates using the native SCCM features. Flexible update management. We’ve created a way for admins to manage the pace at which they receive feature updates and bug fixes while continuing to receive regular security updates. Simplified activation management. We’re adding a feature in the Office 365 Admin Portal to allow admins to manage device activations across users.

- Macros and Add-ins: We’re not making any changes to Macros or Add-ins in this release. It’s rare that “no changes” is a something we’d want to highlight, but we think it’s worth celebrating the consistency in the programming model across releases.

- Accessibility: We’ve improved keyboard accessibility for high-value Excel features like PivotTables and Slicers, addressed a number of readability issues in Outlook, and introduced a dark theme for users with visual impairments.

- Information Rights Management (IRM): We’ve extended IRM protection to Visio files, enabling both online and offline protection of Visio diagrams.

If you are ready to get started with this open preview for IT Pros and developers just head over to the  Office 2016 Preview program on the Microsoft Connect site and get signed up.

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