Microsoft starts rolling out Office 365 Planner preview

Microsoft has started rolling out its lightweight project-management tool, Office 365 Planner, to participants in the First Release testing program.

Microsoft has started rolling out a preview of its Planner technology to those participating in the Office 365 First Release program, officials announced on December 14.

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Planner, which was codenamed "Highlander," is a lightwieght project-management tool and will become one of Office 365's next-generation portals, according to Microsoft execs.

The Planner preview is available to First Release customers who have Office 365 Enterprise E1, Office 365 Enterprise E3, Office 365 Enterprise E4, Office 365 Enterprise E5, Office 365 Education, Office 365 Education E3, Office 365 Education E4, Office 365 Business Essentials and Office 365 Business Premium. In order to get the Planner preview, IT administrators of those applicable need to set it up.

Microsoft is expecting the rollout of the preview to First Release customers worldwide to be completed in the next several weeks. Microsoft officials said Planner should be generally available to all eligible Office 365 business and education customers in calendar 2016.

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For those wondering how Planner will integrate with Office 365 Groups, each new plan created in Planner automatically creates a new Office 365 groups. And every pre-existing Office 365 Group will get an associated plan.

Microsoft announced recently it was adding more services to its First Release program, which allows companies to designate certain people to get new updates earlier than the rest for testing purposes.

Microsoft is adding SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business to the Office 365 First Release program. And Office 365 ProPlus and Office 365 Business subscriptions now also offer First Release builds of the Office client -- a program that will be similar to the recently announced Office Insider for Consumers program.