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article imageMicrosoft confirms Office 2016 is coming later this month

By James Walker     Sep 10, 2015 in Technology
Microsoft today announced that the next version of its Office productivity suite will be available on September 22. A free upgrade to Office 365 subscribers, Office 2016 includes several improvements and new features to enhance productivity.
The date is no big surprise as marketing materials were leaked weeks ago revealing when the launch would come. The release of Office 2016 for Windows desktop follows Office for Mac 2016 earlier this year and the touch-friendly Windows Store versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote that are already available in Windows 10.
From September 22, Office 2016 will become "broadly available." Upgrade offers will begin appearing to subscribers and enterprises using volume licensing from October 1. Microsoft is also releasing several new tools which aim to make the upgrade experience easier for businesses.
Consumers will be on the "Current Branch" and will receive all feature and security updates as they are made available. An alternative is now being introduced for system administrators, Current Branch for Business. It will provide monthly security updates as usual but wraps feature updates into three cumulative releases each year.
The model allows corporate customers to postpone updating to Office 2016 while administrators test it out or consider the best way to upgrade internally. The release will then be offered in February 2016.
Office 2016 is more of an incremental release than its heavily redesigned predecessor, Office 2013. Many of the new features are subtle improvements and additions to simplify tasks and make productivity more focused.
Sharing files is now easier than ever and there is support for real-time multi-author document editing in Word. Users can collaborate on work over the Internet and see where everybody is in the document, watching as new words are added to the page. In Excel, Power Pivot has seen improvements and it is now possible to convert handwriting directly to equations.
The changes certainly aren't major new features that will make people go out and buy new copies, but then that is no longer Microsoft's business model. Most people are already paying for Office with their Office 365 subscription and will be receiving Office 2016 for free.
The new suite is designed to improve on the shortcomings of Office 2013 and create a better companion to Windows 10, making larger changes in the future possible. New licenses for people not subscribed to Office 365 will cost from $145 (£95) for the basic Office 2016 Home & Student edition.
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