Office users who want a glimpse of the future will be able to see it starting today, thanks to a new public beta. The Office 2016 Public Preview will let anyone download the new versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook to their PC and try them out.
Microsoft is still in the process of adding features to the apps before their official release later this year, but the Public Preview contains some interesting marquee features, like the ability to collaborate on a Word document in real time inside the desktop application. Microsoft already rolled out real-time co-authoring to the Office Online app suite, and it is now in the process of bringing that feature to the desktop in Office 2016. Word will be the first app to support the feature, with others getting it later.
Office 2016 will also take advantage of machine learning techniques to make itself more useful. Users will be able to take advantage of a “Tell Me” feature in Word, Excel and PowerPoint that allows users to enter what they want to do in written form and get help. It’s a way to make the Office apps’ complex series of menus and tabs a bit more accessible to people who don’t spend all day working with them.
As with Microsoft’s other preview applications, it’s worth remembering that this is pre-release software, which means that it will come with bugs. The company recommends that people who plan to install the apps also understand how to revert to an older version of Office, just in case they want to reverse their decision.
In addition to the public preview, the company also announced that it’s bringing Sway, its newest piece of productivity software, to Office 365 for enterprise and education users. Starting later this month, most people who have an Office 365 subscription at their business or school will be able to use those credentials to log in to Sway and start collaborating on documents through that service.