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Microsoft to launch Office 2016 this year, Office touch apps arriving 'in the coming weeks'

Microsoft has already announced a ton of exciting stuff this week, but the company isn't done yet. Today, it announced that the next version of its fully-featured Office suite of desktop PC applications will be called Office 2016.

Microsoft has been testing the new version of Office internally with a handful of its key partners. Images that leaked last year suggest the new release won't rock the boat too much in terms of design, although customers can expect to see a range of new features and improvements.

The company said today that it "will have more to share on Office 2016 in the coming months", confirming its earlier promise of releasing the new applications "in the second half of 2015" – perhaps coinciding with the launch of Windows 10, which is expected around the same time.

Although Microsoft did not publicly show its new Office 2016 desktop applications this week, it did unveil its new suite of touch-friendly Office apps for Windows. As with the touch-optimized Office apps on Android and iOS, they lack the complete feature set of the desktop applications, but they still offer many of the features that users need most often for creating, editing and sharing documents.

As Universal Windows apps, they'll be available not just on Windows 10 PCs, notebooks, and tablets, but also on smartphones. Microsoft shared a few images of the Office touch apps for Windows 10 today, showing how they'll look on handsets and devices with larger displays.

Word for Windows 10

Excel for Windows 10

PowerPoint for Windows 10

OneNote for Windows 10

Outlook Mail and Outlook Calendar for Windows 10

Microsoft says the new Office touch apps will eventually be "pre-installed for free on phones and small tablets running Windows 10, and available to download from the Windows Store for other devices." It adds that the new apps will be "available with the Windows 10 Technical Preview in the coming weeks and general availability is on track for later this year."

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