We're not even halfway into 2018 but Office 2019 is already hitting the hard drives of early adopters - but there's a catch. Microsoft is releasing a preview version of the next version of their office productivity suite but only to organisations that plan to deploy the volume licensed version when it's released later this year. If your business is in that boat, there's a registration process to follow so you can get ahead of the curve with the next version of Microsoft Office.
In order to join the Office 2019 Commercial Preview program, you'll need to be registered with Microsoft Collaborate. Once you're there, go to the Overview page in your dashboard, select Engagements and find the Office 2019 Commercial Preview engagement. Click on Join, read the terms and conditions and, if you agree with them, hit the Join button again. From there, you'll be able to download the appropriate deployment package.
You can use the same dashboard to submit feedback during your testing program.
Microsoft has made a few comments about the next perpetual-license version of Office, saying:
Office 2019 will add new user and IT capabilities for customers who aren’t yet ready for the cloud. For example, new and improved inking features—like pressure sensitivity, tilt effects, and ink replay—will allow you to work more naturally. New formulas and charts will make data analysis for Excel more powerful. Visual animation features—like Morph and Zoom—will add polish to PowerPoint presentations. Server enhancements will include updates to IT manageability, usability, voice, and security.
For Office 365 users, I expect we'll see new versions released at around the same time as the perpetual version goes live later this year. In the mean time, I wouldn't be surprised for some features to be slowly added to the current version of Office for subscribers.
The last four releases of Microsoft Office have been three years apart. If there's to be an Office 2022, we'll likely hear about it in 2020. But I think Microsoft will be hoping their Office 365 subscriber base will have grown by then to make the release of another perpetual version a minor event as they'll want the majority of Office users to have shifted away from perpetual licensing.