Microsoft Unveils Skype for Business for Mac Preview and Office 2016 Perks

An initial preview of Microsoft's emerging Skype for Business for Mac client is available today, but it's just for invite-only IT pro testers.

Microsoft announced a three-stage preview rollout plan for the Mac client. IT administrators can try it at each stage, with signup available at this preview page. A public release of a more finalized Skype for Business for Mac client is planned for release in Q3 2016, according to Microsoft's announcement.

The Phase 1 preview release starts today, showcasing the ability to link the Skype for Business for Mac client with Outlook calendar events. Users of the Mac client preview can view content, chat and invite others to a meeting.

The Phase 2 preview happens early this summer. It'll add "instant messaging, presence and contacts" capabilities to the Mac client. Phase 3, planned for release in late summer, will add "telephony and related features."

The Mac client will work on the latest Mac OS X "El Capitan" release, according to a Microsoft video. It's also possible to use the older client, Lync for Mac 2011, alongside this Skype for Business for Mac preview, without conflict, according to Microsoft.

Office 2016 Improvements
In related news, Microsoft described some Office 2016 improvements added this month.

On the Skype for Business front, Microsoft has now added instant messaging access from Office 2016 documents. This Skype for Business instant messaging link is located at "the top right corner of documents."

Other collaboration activities located in the top right corner of documents include presence (showing the pictures of collaborators) and a new document activity feed, according to Microsoft's announcement today.

The document activity feed shows the history of shared files that have undergone collaboration changes by participants. It's possible to use this document activity feed to revert a document to a prior version. It works for documents saved in OneDrive for Business or SharePoint storage.

Participants in document collaborations are now shown on the document's ribbon in picture form. It's possible to click on these collaborator images and then jump to the document section they're working on.

Mobile Enhancements
Microsoft also indicated that it has enhanced its Office 2016 mobile client experience on smartphones. Users now get contextual access to editing controls depending on what's selected in a document. That new capability is in effect for Excel, PowerPoint and Word documents on Android, iPhone and Windows Phone devices.

Users also now have the option to use their pen as a pointer with Office 2016 apps on mobile devices. An "inking" drawing capability also is available.

A "smart lookup" capability was extended to Excel, PowerPoint and Word on Android and iOS devices. It lets a user select text and then executes a Bing Internet search, with the results displayed alongside the text.

Lastly, Microsoft added the ability to record audio on Windows Phone devices using the OneNote application.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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