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Microsoft Office 16 beta leaks online, reveals dark theme

Microsoft is struggling to keep its latest update to Office under wraps, as a pre-release beta appears on torrent sites

It’s no secret that Microsoft is working on a new edition of its Office productivity suite, but a new leak has given us our first glimpse at the update – ahead of Microsoft’s schedule. Microsoft Office 16 is available, in beta form, right now – naturally we won’t be linking to any of the less-than-legal sites hosting download links, but if you’re determined enough it isn’t hard to find.

The beta, more specifically beta build 16.0.3030.1018, appeared online earlier this week. It’s an old build of a technical preview, which according to WinBeta has already been superseded by a new version within Microsoft, and will only function for a few days before it locks users out. It requires an active Office 365 subscription to use, and will not activate with a regular serial key. One last word of warning; you can’t install Office 16 side-by-side with an older version of Office either.

Even so, a gallery of screenshots posted by Softpedia gives us an idea what to expect from the update when it arrives officially – including an early look at the new dark colour scheme. The toolbars and empty pasteboard space surrounding the open document have been switched from white to dark grey, which should make it much easier on the eyes when working in a dark room or at night. Otherwise, the major applications like Word, Excel and PowerPoint all look visually similar to their predecessors, complete with Ribbon toolbar. Microsoft also appears to have tweaked the icon design, opting for a flatter look compared to previous versions of Office.

This week’s leak isn’t the first time we’ve had an unexpected early look at Office 16 – images showing a Mac OS X version of Outlook appeared online in October. Microsoft has yet to comment on either leak, and it’s unclear whether it will be releasing the beta to a wider audience in any official capacity – or if it was only intended for a small group of testers. 

Either way, it means we’re that much closer to a full release for Office 16, which is still expected to arrive in the first half of 2015.

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