Microsoft Announces the Office 2016 for Desktop Technical Preview

In a blog post this morning, Microsoft’s Office team has announced that the Office 2016 Technical Preview for IT Pro and Developer is now available.  While it is an early release and doesn’t contain all of the final features, updates are expected to be sent out on a monthly basis as more features, fixes and improvements become available.  The expansion of the testing into this area for Office 2016 is a good sign as it marks an important milestone for the release.  Like the Windows 10 beta, it is now at the point where real world input is needed which will help shape the final product later this year.

Amongst the features of this new beta for Office 2016 is a Data Loss Protection.  This allows IT administrators to centrally create, manage and enforce policies for content authoring and document sharing.  End suers will see policy tips or sharing restrictions when apps detect a potential violation.

Outlook gets a lot of updates:

  • 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.

There are also nee Macros and Add-ins for the apps while Click-to-Run deployments are also available.  The later makes it much easier for IT pros to deliver Office 2016 by managing network traffic better, enhanced distribution management and flexible update management.

You can read the full release on the Microsoft Office Blog here.  This release is certainly aimed at IT Pros and Developers as most of the enhancements and highlights are on the management and deployment side of the spectrum.