Microsoft Corp. is offering free downloads of its Office 2016 to business users in hopes that they will offer feedback before its official release later this year. Microsoft Corporation

Microsoft Corp. announced Monday that it would offer a free preview of its latest version of Office for Windows to corporate customers. The update comes as Microsoft readies its popular suite of productivity apps for an overhaul of its complete software lineup, culminating in the release of Windows 10 later this year.

Microsoft is offering the Office 2016 technical preview as a free download for Windows users who are willing to deal with a few bugs and unfinished features to try out its latest and greatest. The Windows-maker announced the new Office 2016 technical preview alongside a new beta version of Skype for Business Monday at its annual Convergence 2015 event in Atlanta, Georgia.

Outlook for Office 2016 has been updated to open faster, while Microsoft has also incorporated new IT-friendly safeguards. Microsoft requires users to sign up for a business profile on Microsoft Connect to download the free preview.

Microsoft has made Office 2016 a lot more colorful than earlier incarnations, according to Ars Technica's in-depth look at the preview. But the classic color schemes of gray and white (and Microsoft’s “dark theme”) are still available to those who find the new look -- reminiscent of Google’s Material Design for Android -- too bright for comfort.

Microsoft said it plans to release Office 2016 for Windows in the second half of the year, while the version for Mac is expected over the summer.