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Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Rolls Out Office 2016 Preview

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is letting technology professionals and developers take its newest Office suite for a test run as the company has just launched the Office 2016 IT Pro and Developer Preview.

Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office 365 Client Apps and Services team at Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), said that the release marks the end of the company’s private preview of Office 2016 which lasted for several months.

“Now we’re ready to expand the program to our commercial Office 365 customers, an important milestone that gives IT pros and developers an opportunity to start testing the upcoming release,” Koenigsbauer added.

However, the Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) executive noted that the Office 2016 preview aimed at technology professionals is not yet replete with the features that the Windows maker intends to include with Office 2016. Nonetheless, he notes that updates in the coming months will likely enable or add the features one by one.

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One of the big announcements made by Koenigsbauer is the addition of Data Loss Protection (DLP) to Office. He said that with DLP for Word, Excel and PowerPoint, 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.

The Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) said that Outlook receives significant technical improvements for the 2016 suit. The company has replaced RPC-based sync with the Internet-friendly MAPI-HTTP protocol; eliminated the user of foreground network calls; implemented support for multi-factor authentication via Active Directory Authentication Library (ADAL); reduced the amount of time to download messages, display message lists and show emails after resuming hibernation; added settings that allow users to better manage storage by only retaining 1, 3, 7, 14 or 30 days of mail on the device; and improved the reliability, performance, and usability of Outlook search, and integrated the FAST-based search engine in Exchange.

As for Office 365, the company as included new deployment features that it says IT professionals have been asking for. This includes the introduction of a new Background Intelligence Transfer Service (BITS) to help prevent congestion on the network which throttles back the use of bandwidth when other critical network traffic is present; the improvement of System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) integration to allow IT admins to efficiently download and distribute monthly Office updates using the native SCCM features; the creation of a way for admins to manage the pace at which they receive feature updates and bug fixes; and the addition of an Office 365 Admin Portal feature to allow admins to manage device activations across users.

Koenigsbauer also said that Macros and Add-ins were not changed with this Office 2016 release but keyboard accessibility for high-value Excel features like PivotTables and Slicers have been improved. Accessibility has also been improved in Outlook and a dark theme has been implemented for users with visual impairments.

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) also said that it has extended Information Rights Management protection to Visio files.

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