Get ready for a new selection of preview software from Microsoft to test out: today the company launched both the Office 2016 IT Pro and Developer Preview, and the Skype for Business Preview.

After being in a private preview program for several months, Microsoft is now "ready to expand the (Office 2016 Preview) program to our commercial Office 365 customers, an important milestone that gives IT pros and developers an opportunity to start testing the upcoming release."

Some of the new features in Office 2016 include a refreshed, more colorful interface (seen above in a leaked version), improved search functionality, a wealth of technical and performance improvements to Outlook, expanded Data Loss Protection, and more. For business users, Microsoft hasn't made any changes to Add-ins or Macros, which should help with compatibility.

At this stage, the Office 2015 Preview doesn't come with the full selection of features that Microsoft expects to ship in the final version, although the company will continue to update the Preview monthly with new additions. Eager testers can join the Office 2016 Preview program here and download it today, ahead of the final version launching in the second half of this year.

microsoft office skype business preview lync skype for business office 2016

Alongside a preview of Office 2016, Microsoft is also launching the Skype for Business Preview. Replacing Microsoft Lync, Skype for Business features a familiar Skype interface and includes tight integration with Office for a cohesive productivity experience.

Anyone who is a current Lync customer can now download the Skype for Business Preview here through the TechNet Evaluation Center, with the final version set to roll out next month. The Skype for Business Preview is also included with the Office 2016 Preview, so if you want to test out both, you'll only need to download Office.