Microsoft previews Office 2016 IT Pro and Developer

Hot on the heels of Office 2016 Mac Preview, Microsoft today launched Office 2016 Preview for developers and IT professionals. We've already heard a little about the direction in which the office suite is heading but - leaks aside - this is the first time most of the suite has been seen outside of private testing.

Microsoft is a company that is all about previews nowadays; the days of not having a clue what will appear in the next version of apps are gone. There's the disclaimer that "this early build doesn’t yet contain all the features we're planning to ship in the final product," but it's still an intriguing taster of what's to come.

In terms of new features, Microsoft is focusing on business-centric tools for now. The reliability of Outlook has been improved, and RPC-based sync has been replaced with the MAPI-HTTP protocol. There are new email storage management options, faster searching, and support for multi-factor authentication through integration with the Active Directory Authentication Library.

Word, Excel and PowerPoint gain Data Loss Protection to bring them in line with Exchange, Outlook, OneDrive for Business and SharePoint, giving admins the chance to control content creation and sharing. Improvements have been made to device activation controls, there is a more efficient update deployment, and there are also new accessibility features.

If you are interested in taking part in the Office 2016 IT Pro and Developer Preview, you can sign up over on Microsoft Connect -- bear in mind that only businesses are likely to be considered.