Microsoft announced that Office 2016 will become broadly available starting on September 22, which is just around the corner. Those with volume licensing agreements in place can download it from Microsoft’s Volume Licensing Center starting October 1.
The company released the IT Pro and Developer Preview in March, and has since been refining the experience for Windows, which includes IT management enhancements including improvements to the upgrade and installation experience. Office 365 users will see changes to how the apps are updated in the future.
Office 365 ProPlus subscribers will still get monthly feature and security updates, but Microsoft is now referring to this as “Current Branch,” with subscribers always having the most current Office apps and capabilities available. The next Current Branch release is also September 22. It will have all the new app updates included. There’s also a new option called Current Branch for Business, which delivers three feature updates per year in addition to the monthly security updates. The first Current Branch for Business build will drop in February. That will include the same feature set as the September 22 release plus four extra months of security updates.
“We’ve also addressed a number of the other top IT requests in Office 365 ProPlus, including deployment support for Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) to help control network traffic when deploying updates and new reports on Office activation and usage available in the Office 365 admin portal,” says Microsoft’s Julia White. “Beyond the new deployment and management options, the new Office also adds support for Data Loss Prevention across the Office 2016 apps, Multi-factor Authentication and other mission critical control capabilities.”
“Also, back in March we pledged our commitment to compatibility with your existing Office customization by not making changes to the extensibility model for macros or add-ins,” she adds. “If you’ve been evaluating the preview, you would have seen that most of the tools and processes for managing and deploying Office 365 ProPlus (15.x) versions are very consistent with Office 2016. In August, we published guidance for updating Office 365 ProPlus to the Office 2016 version and kicked off the Office IT Pro Deployment Script project.”
Microsoft will launch a new IT and developer-focused event series called the Microsoft Cloud Roadshow. At these events, the company will provide free, two-day technical training in 12 cities for Office, Azure, and Windows.