Microsoft has today announced the availability of technical previews of both Office 2016 and Skype for Business. While the former was announced in Microsoft’s January event this year, the latter was announced by Satya Nadella during his keynote at Convergence conference.

While Office 2016 is scheduled to be released in the second half of this year, the current technical preview has given a decent insight into new set of features, which will arrive in the next iteration of Microsoft’s Office suite.

The first major update will be coming to Word, Excel and Powerpoint. That update is Microsoft’s Data Loss Protection platform coming to these three software. Over the last few years, the Redmond giant had added DLP to Exchange, Outlook, OneDrive for Business and SharePoint, however Word, Excel and Powerpoint missed out. But with the new Office, those three have been equipped with the same. With these new capabilities, 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.

Outlook too has got a major overhaul, with the introduction of multiple protocols and upgradation/discontinuation of outdated ones. For example, Microsoft has replaced the RPC-based sync with a new Internet-friendly MAPI-HTTP protocol that supports Exchange/Outlook connectivity.

The new Outlook is now equipped with multi-factor authentication through integration with the Active Directory Authentication Library (ADAL). To much delight of its users, the new Outlook features a much needed reduction in the amount of time it takes to download messages, display the message list, and show new email after resuming from hibernation.

Several smaller updates, like improved keyboard accessibility for high-value Excel features like PivotTables, introduction of a dark theme for users with visual impairments etc. have also been made. However, no changes have been made to add-ons so as to lighten the burden of re-testing from companies.

Apart from Office 2015, Microsoft today also released technical preview for its Skype For Business software.

While Skype for Business client looks very similar to the consumer version of Skype and uses the same buttons and icons found there, it has been armed with enterprise-level security solutions for secured video/audio calls to other Skype For Business users,a s well as usual Skype users.

The new Skype for Business is expected to become available “in the coming weeks” for Lync customers, while it will ship with an entirely new back-end (including client, server and service) with Office 365.


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