Microsoft Offers Sneak Peak of Office 2016, Skype for Business
Redmond has just announced the Office 2016 IT professional and developer preview and a technical preview of Skype for Business. Microsoft is hoping to make a big collaborative splash in the enterprise with the new products. The company debuted the previews at Microsoft’s 2015 Convergence Conference running from March 16-19 in Atlanta.
Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office 365 Client Apps and Services team, offered a sneak peak at some of the new features, including: data loss protection for Word, Excel and PowerPoint; technical improvements like stronger search, e-mail delivery performance and multi-factor authentication for Outlook; click-to-run deployment for better IT management; extended information rights management; and improved keyboard accessibility.
“To be clear, this early build doesn’t yet contain all the features we’re planning to ship in the final product, Koenigsbauer said. “However, through the course of the preview, customers should expect to see new features delivered through monthly updates.”
The New Face of Lync
In his keynote address at Convergence, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella encouraged companies to tap into the open exchange of information using intelligent, collaborative tools that help people and organizations get more done. That would include Skype for Business. Microsoft Lync officially becomes Skype for Business in the next upgrade.
Skype for Business offers a feature set that expands on what users had with Lync and gives IT enterprise-grade security, compliance, and control. Users can search for anyone inside or outside their organizations on the new client. What’s more, Skype for Business is built into Office, which opens the door for features like presence, IM, voice, video calls, and online meetings within Office.
“Most existing software and hardware solutions that are qualified for Lync 2013 will also be compatible with Skype for Business, thanks to the efforts of our hardware, software, IT pro tools and network infrastructure partners,” said Giovanni Mezgec, general manager for the Skype for Business team. “As a result, current Lync customers can get quickly up and running with Skype for Business with the solutions they’re already using.”
Delving into Productivity
We caught up with Wes Miller, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, to get his thoughts on the previews. He told us everyone is excited for what Microsoft has planned for both Office and Lync as it rebrands as Skype for Business.
“People are talking a lot about Delve right now, which is available in Office 365 but not on the on-premises software,” Miller said. At Convergence, Nadella showed Office Delve as a strong example of how the company is “reimagining productivity” to help people work in new and more connected ways.
Delve works to surface relevant content and insights tailored to individual users. Office Graph, an intelligent fabric that applies machine learning to map connections between people, content and interactions that occur across Office 365, powers Delve.
“There’s a move by Microsoft toward a more unified work model, getting the apps to work together, getting storage to work in one place,” Miller said “Microsoft is trying help people work together more effectively.”
In other Microsoft news, the Windows 10 technical preview has apparently leaked. Build 10031 surfaced last week and build 10036 is now reportedly showing peer-to-peer downloading of apps and operating system updates, according to Ars Technica.