Microsoft is announcing the launch of a brand new preview program aimed towards testing and improving its Office 365 feature. Open to Windows insiders, who are part of the Office 365 subscribers, the program aims at testing a whole bunch of new features and improvements which are making their way to the Office 365 apps.
The program is almost identical to the Windows Insider program, except for the product under test and the conditions themselves. Similar to the former, a select group of users — who are called as Windows Insiders — get to try their hands on the preview build of Office 365 applications. The preview build usually comes with updates and features that have not been released to the general public. As such, the testers have the opportunity of reporting bugs and offering feedback as well as advice to Microsoft on yet to be released features.
However, while the insiders program for Windows 10 was initiated way before the platform rolled out to the general public, the Office insiders has seen the daylights, after the software has already been shipped. Not that it matters much though. Considering Microsoft’s promise to keep updating its Office 365 software regularly, the insiders preview feature is bound to come in handy.
This month for example, two brand new PowerPoint features, namely Designer and Morph have been introduced.
The Designer, is a special feature which is aimed at spicing up your normal, run-of-the mill presentations. All you have to do is to drop an image into your presentation. Once that is done, the designer feature takes over and analyzes the image, coming up with a bunch of design ideas in the right-hand pane, that can be applied to the current slide with a click of the mouse.
However, the feature comes up only when it has something relevant. As per Microsoft, the right-hand pane makes use of machine learning including automated design and smart image analysis and shows up only “when we believe we are able to deliver something of value to the customer.”
Finally, since the feature is powered by cloud, it will consistently keep improving, this enhancing the range of slides the can be edited as well as the edits that can be applied to a slide.
Next up, we have the Morph feature. The feature is basically there to help bridge the gap for those who want their slide shows to possess elements of animation, yet do not want it to take days or weeks to complete. The process is kind-of intuitive and we are still not sure of the dynamics of its workings, however, at its simplest, you duplicate slides you want to morph together, and move objects based upon how you want them to animate.
What’s more, you can apply these cinematic animation, between slides or even at a word or character level, and includes text wrapping.
The features are likely to hit Windows in about 2-4 weeks while other platforms will get it soon too. Again, these are limited to Office 365 subscribers.
Speaking on the topic of availability, a Microsoft spokesperson said,
Moving forward, the first public availability of those updates will be Office Insider for consumers, and Office 365 First Release for commercial customers, This allows us to get customer feedback from a small, actively engaged customer base and adjust if needed prior to rolling out more broadly. In many cases for monthly feature releases, there will be just a week or so between availability for Insiders and the broader customer base.