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Microsoft Launches 'Insider' Program for Office 2016

In a bid to mimic the success of the Windows Insider program for testing pre-release builds of Windows 10, Microsoft on Friday launched a similar program for Office 2016.

The new Office Insider program is open to consumer users of Office 365 -- those with Home, Personal and University subscriptions -- who want access to pre-release builds of Office 2016 for Windows. (This is separate from the existing Office 365 First Release program, which gives early access to business subscribers.)

Released just this past September, Office 2016 features a continuous update model that's similar to the strategy that Microsoft has taken with Windows 10, with new feature updates being released every month. Participation in the Office Insider program would let consumer Office 365 users test these new features ahead of their general release and give their feedback to Microsoft.

"As an Insider, you get first-hand access to the latest innovations, putting you on the inside track for all things Office," wrote Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president of Office, in a blog post announcing the program. "And when you become an Office Insider, you are joining a community of like-minded power users. With your partnership, we can ensure a high-quality Office experience for millions of Office users worldwide."

Office Insider participants will receive their first batch of pre-release Office 2016 features sometime this week, Koenigsbauer said. Those features include PowerPoint Designer, a tool that uses information from a PowerPoint user's slide image to quickly generate design suggestions; and Morph, a design tool for PowerPoint that can animate words, images and even individual characters. Both new features will be available first to Office Insider participants, and will roll out to consumer and commercial Office 365 users "over the following weeks."

For mobile Windows 10 users, they already have access to early Office 2016 builds through the original Windows Insider program.

Microsoft also has an Office Insider for Android program for users on that platform. A program for Mac users will roll out "in the coming months," according to Microsoft.

A FAQ on the Office Insider page gives instructions for how to register for the program.

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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