If you’re a Windows Insider, then you’re accustomed to getting early access to the latest Windows 10 bits. Microsoft has another Insider program for Office users that also provides a sneak peek at new features, and Microsoft has released a new early access update for Office 2016 on Windows desktops.
The December update that’s presently on tap is for Slow Ring users, meaning those people who are brave enough to try things out a little early but not quite so brave as to try the absolute latest and possibly most unstable versions. The newest Slow Ring update is to version 1612 (Build 7668.2048), and it provides some nice new functionality.
First up is the ability to view and easily restore changes in shared files. Clicking the Activity icon in a shared app that’s stored in SharePoint, OneDrive, or OneDrive for Business will open a list of who recently edited the document and their versions. You can then select an easier version of a document, workbook, or presentation to restore.
Next up are a number of smaller updates that nevertheless extend Office 2016’s functionality. Excel now allows you to use the Surface pen to select and manipulate objects, specifically to use the resize, rotate, and move handles on objects as well as to Lasso ink without visiting the ribbon. You can now play videos in PowerPoint slides that contain closed captions and multiple audio tracks. It also offers some new data transformation and connectivity options, including a Percentage data type and better binary combining and function authoring experiences.
Visio also received some attention in the latest Office Insider Slow Ring version. The desktop version of Visio received support for using the keyboard, Narrator, and other assistive technology. And there’s a new Visio Viewer for the iPad and iPhone.
If you’re signed up for the Office Insider program and have Office 2016 set to receive Slow Ring updates, then it’s possible that you’re already updated. You can go to File > Account, and look in the Office Updates section to see which version you’re on. Click on the Office Options button and select Update Now to force an update if you’re not yet seeing the latest version. You can sign up to be an Office Insider here if you’re not already in the program.