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Microsoft launches Office 2016 and Skype for Business previews

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A leaked version of Office 2016 gave us an early look at a new colorful theme early today, and now Microsoft is ready to let anyone test its upcoming Office client. Starting today, the software maker is launching an Office 2016 preview aimed at IT professionals and developers. "This early build doesn’t yet contain all the features we’re planning to ship in the final product," explains Microsoft's Kirk Koenigsbauer, but you'll get a close look at what's coming alongside monthly updates until Office 2016 ships later this year.

Both previews available to download today

Microsoft is improving Outlook 2016 search, storage footprint, and email delivery performance, alongside some improvements to image insertion in Word 2016 and Excel 2016. While Microsoft has previously added new ways to extend Office for developers, the software maker says it's not touching add-ins or macro abilities in Office 2016, leaving things the same way for existing documents. This approach will please enterprise customers who typically run into issues with older spreadsheets and complex macros. You can sign up for Microsoft's Office 2016 preview right here.

Alongside the Office 2016 preview, Microsoft is also launching a test version of Skype for Business. This new version of Skype is a replacement for Lync, Microsoft's primary communications tool for businesses. Skype for Business looks very similar to the consumer version of Skype, with the ability to integrate closely into various Office apps. A final version of Skype for Business will be available in April, and you can sign up to the preview over at Microsoft's evaluation site.

Skype for Business