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Microsoft is extending its Office Insider Fast Ring test program

Microsoft is adding a Fast Ring option to its Office Insider test program for Windows desktops, Windows 10 Mobile, iOS and Android.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor on

Microsoft has an Office Insider testing program that shares a number of similarities with its Windows Insider program, but one difference between the two has been scope.


The Office Insider program, which Microsoft launched in November 2015, didn't initially support different test rings. The one rather odd exception was the Office Insider for Mac program, which did include both Fast and Slow ring options, since June 2016. (Microsoft added Office for Mac users to its Insider test program in January 2016.)

Today, August 30, Microsoft disclosed it would be adding a Fast Ring option to its Office Insider program for users on other platforms, beyond Mac OS.

"Coming in the next few days," Microsoft will add a new level, Office Insider, for Windows desktops and Windows 10 Mobile, according to a blog post on the Office Blogs site. Microsoft also plans to add Fast Ring Office Insider support for those running Office on Android and iOS "soon," the post said.

"The Fast level provides even earlier builds of Office, more frequently. In fact, these builds are what Microsoft employees have access to internally. Office Insider Fast is best for Insiders who want to use the earliest preview builds to identify issues, provide feedback to help make Office great, and who don't mind a bit of risk using unsupported builds," explain officials in today's post.

The Office Insider program is a bit different from the Windows Insider one, in that it is for those interested in testing features that are only about one to three weeks away from final release, according to Microsoft officials. Windows Insiders are testing possible new Windows 10 features that may be multiple months away from general availability.

Office Insider also differs from the Office 365 First Release program in that Office Insider is for Office client and app technologies, while the First Release program is for Office 365 Business and Enterprise users who are charged with testing software and services that also extend beyond client.

Office Insider is aimed at users of Office 365 Home and Personal, not the commercial versions of Office 365.

In other Office news, Visio Online Preview is rolling out for commercial customers in First Release. Visio Online (the web version of Visio) will be available to all Office 365 commercial customers whose plans include Office Online before the end of calendar 2016 (thanks @teroalhonen).

Microsoft also is adding contact card support to Outlook on the Web (for commercial users), and later to SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business.

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