Microsoft is announcing today that its next major version of Office, aptly named Office 2016, will be available later this year. "We will have more to share on Office 2016 in the coming months, but this suite will remain the comprehensive Office experience you’re long familiar with, best suited for a PC with keyboard and mouse," says Julia White, Microsoft’s Office general manager. "We expect to make Office 2016 generally available in the second half of 2015."
While Microsoft isn’t revealing features for Office 2016, we exclusively revealed that the next version will include a darker theme and a Clippy-like helper. Microsoft is also making various other UI tweaks and feature additions, but Office 2016 is expected to look and feel very similar to Office 2013. The real changes for Office are coming with the touch-optimized version for Windows 10, a separate suite of apps designed primarily for tablets and phones. Finger-friendly versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook will all be available in Microsoft’s next operating system.
Microsoft is planning to preview Office for Windows 10 in the coming weeks, and the company says it will release final versions later this year. The UI and functionality is very similar to existing versions of Office for iPad, but Microsoft is combining inking and touch modes to take advantage of some of the unique parts of Windows 10. A brand new Outlook mail app will also span across Windows 10 on desktops, tablets, and even phones.