Preview versions of Office 2016 have been available since March but Microsoft has now confirmed the news leaked a couple of weeks ago that the official rollout of the product will begin later this month.
Writing on the Office blog Julia White, general manager of Office 365 Technical Product Management says, "You may have heard the rumors, but today I'm happy to confirm that Office 2016 will be broadly available starting on September 22nd. If you have a volume licensing agreement in place, you can download Office 2016 from the Volume Licensing Service Center starting October 1st".
The update model is improved with a Current Branch for Business option, allowing enterprises who don't want to take updates every month to have just three cumulative updates per year. This is consistent with the approach followed for Windows 10.
Microsoft has also addressed a number of business requests in Office 365 ProPlus. These include deployment support for Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) to help control network traffic when deploying updates, and new reports on Office activation and usage available in the Office 365 admin portal.
The company has reiterated the pledge it made in March to ensure compatibility with existing Office customisations by not making changes to the extensibility model for macros or add-ins.
Guidance for admins on updating from Office 365 ProPlus to the 2016 version is available on TechNet.
In addition, Microsoft will be running a Cloud Roadshow in November with free two-day training sessions in 12 cities around the world covering topics spanning Office, Azure and Windows.