Microsoft Releasing Office 2016 on September 22

Developers and IT pros have been test-driving a preview of Office 2016 since March, but the final version is now set to launch starting September 22. Microsoft said the "seminal" release will be chock full of new IT management features.

The new suite of Office applications will give Office 365 ProPlus business subscribers a choice of two types of ongoing updates. As they have in the past, company and organizational users can continue to receive feature and security updates on a monthly basis under an option now called "Current Branch."

For enterprise users, there will also be a new update option called "Current Branch for Business," which will deliver three feature updates annually while providing monthly security updates. The option is designed for organizations that prefer to wait for updates, need time for testing or want to better manage customizations, Microsoft said.

Users with personal or home subscriptions who update to Office 2016, meanwhile, will begin seeing automatic monthly updates starting in October.

New Ways To Upgrade and Deploy

"We've enhanced the upgrade and installation experience, and for Office 365 subscribers, we've made changes to how the 2016 apps are updated moving forward," Julia White, general manager of Office 365 Technical Product Management, said today in a blog post. "We're also delivering new tools and resources to help you prepare, deploy and manage Office."

The Current Branch for Business option was developed based on feedback from many users who currently run Office 365 ProPlus, White said. The approach is similar to that taken by Microsoft with its new Windows 10 operating system, she added.

The first Current Branch for Business build, which will come out in February, will be "effectively the same feature set as the September 22nd release, but with four additional months of security updates also included," White noted.

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