Microsoft updates Office Online Server, announces release schedule

Windows and Office will see two major updates a year for the foreseeable future

Microsoft updates Office Online Server, announces release schedule
Credit: REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel

Microsoft announced it intends to stick to a twice-per-year cadence of major releases for Windows 10 and Office. Along with that, it has updated the Office Online Server for data centers.

Office Online Server basically lets companies deliver Office Online to their users from their data centers rather than over the internet and from Microsoft’s servers. Microsoft introduced the Office Online Server (OOS) as a successor to Office Web Apps Server 2013.

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Office Online is not the same as Office 365. There are differences in the apps, although the core remains the same. One thing different is that Office Online doesn’t use the ribbon in some apps. But the basics—Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote—are all there. Outlook is available only through Outlook.com.

This is the second major update to the Office Online Server with improvements across the board, such as:

  • Performance improvements to co-authoring in PowerPoint Online
  • Equation viewing in Word Online
  • New navigation pane in Word Online
  • Improved undo/redo in Word Online
  • Enhanced W3C accessibility support for users who rely on assistive technologies
  • Accessibility checkers for all applications to ensure that all Office documents can be read and authored by people with different abilities

Office Online is available from the Volume License Servicing Center. Microsoft said that from now on, it will release an update to the server every four months to deliver more value to the users.

Microsoft Windows 10, Office 365 ProPlus to get regular updates 

Other Microsoft products getting regular updates are Windows 10, Office 365 ProPlus and System Center Configuration Manager. The company made the announcement via a blog post that it would release major updates to the three products twice per year going forward.

The next Windows 10 feature update, known by the codename Redstone 3, is targeted for September 2017. Each Windows 10 feature release will be serviced and supported for 18 months, which is why Microsoft announced the end of support for the original release of Windows 10. Time to get those machines upgraded.

Keeping a promised cadence can be a challenge, as Intel learned with its tick/tock strategy. Then again, Intel was fighting the laws of physics, something Microsoft is not doing. Thus far, Microsoft has done a decent job keeping major releases on schedule for Windows 10, jettisoning features if they can’t get them done on time rather than delaying the release. So, they will likely stick to this schedule. At least for the time being.

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