Microsoft has confirmed a September 22 release date for Office 2016, alongside plans for monthly feature updates through Office 365.
The release date had previously appeared in a leaked image from Microsoft’s employee intranet. In a blog post, Microsoft’s Julie White acknowledged that you “may have heard the rumors” before confirming the official launch date.
White’s post also mentions monthly feature and security updates for Office 365 subscribers, starting in October. Just as Windows 10 will offer regular updates (which are mandatory for all Home users), the Office team will be doing the same for consumers. Businesses on Office 365 ProPlus will instead get cumulative feature updates every four months, along with monthly security patches.
Office 2016 isn’t a major departure from previous versions, and the biggest changes involve new ways to collaborate in real-time. The productivity suite will also offer new color themes—taking a page from Microsoft’s free Office mobile apps—and a “Tell Me” feature that helps dig up hard-to-find menu items.
Microsoft still hasn’t announced pricing for Office 2016 as a standalone product. An Office 365 subscription starts at $70 per year for personal use, and includes free updates to Office 2016 and beyond.
Why this matters: Major Office releases already aren’t as important as they used to be, with Microsoft pushing Office 365 subscriptions as the better way to access the productivity suite. (In addition to the software, subscribers get unlimited OneDrive cloud storage ) With the promise of monthly feature updates, it sounds like Microsoft is de-emphasizing standalone Office even further.