New Microsoft 365 apps update channel names, new IT Pro guidance and a new channel!

Microsoft

Here are the latest news from Microsoft on the Microsoft 365 Apps (formerly known as Office 365 ProPlus):

 

A new channel is born

  • Monthly Enterprise Channel has arrived.
  • It combines the power of getting new features once per month (instead of every 6 months on SAC), being predictable (it is released once per month on patch Tuesday) and stability (it is a few weeks behind Monthly Channel to take in latest bugfixes).
  • In case you have devices on Monthly Channel, this is a good group to move to MEC first.
  • Changes for IT admins:
    • New attribute Channel="MonthlyEnterprise" available in ODT (any current ODT supports it already).
    • New channel available through latest ADMX templates
    • It will be published to Configuration Manager and can be catched by ADRs

 

Update Channels are getting rebranded

  • With the arrival of Monthly Enterprise Channel, we rebrand our update channels as follows:

New name

Previous name

Beta Channel

Insider
(sometimes referred to as Insider Fast)

Current Channel (Preview)

Monthly Channel (Targeted)
(sometimes referred to as Insider Slow)

Current Channel

Monthly Channel

Monthly Enterprise Channel

 

Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel (Preview)

Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted)

Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel

Semi-Annual Channel

 

  • Any actions for IT admins?
    • If you are using no Configuration Manager Automatic Deployment Rules (ADR) and no custom scripts which parse the Office Update Names from the WU/WSUS catalog: No action.
    • If you are using Configuration Manager Automatic Deployment Rules (ADR) OR custom scripts which parse the Office Update Names from the WU/WSUS catalog: Update the ADRs/scripts on or after June, 6th to catch the new names of the updates (e.g. Microsoft 365 Apps Update - Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel Version 1908)
  • What else is relevant for IT admins?
    • GPOs and ODT will continue to accept the existing keywords for the various channels (“Broad”, “Targeted”, …), no immediate change is required.
    • The next release of ODT will support the new channel names. You can then start using the new ones, but it is not required.

 

Monthly/Current Channel is the new default

  • We are setting the Current Channel (formerly known as Monthly) as default for new tenants.
  • If you don’t specify the channel in ODT for 1st install scenarios, it will install Current Channel as default.

 

I’ve got questions!

  • Perfect, join us on May 27 at 9 AM PT for a live Ask Microsoft Anything session. We’d love to answer any questions you have about deploying Microsoft 365 Apps

 

Resources

13 Replies

@Eric_Wayne Hello Eric, thanks for this information. A great complement to the info at MS docs.

@Eric_Wayne 

May I know what percentage of Enterprises(>50K users) adopted which channels?

We are struggling with semi-Annual Channel and planning to move to Monthly because of many product bugs.

@Firoz1723 that's a great question. many enterprise customers are finding that the Semi-Annual channel is a too slow with product features, code improvements and bug fixes. They also found the current channel to be to fast with its potential for multiple updates in a calendar month. Therefor, we created and HIGHLY recommend that customers in your situation use the Monthly Enterprise Channel. This channel is specifically designed to give our customers those bug fixes and new features faster, while staying predictable in its update cadence - one update a month, on patch Tuesday. 

 

Hopefully that answers your question. Let me know if you have any follow ups or would like to discuss channel changing further. Happy to help! 

Eric 

Hi Eric, I tend to disagree here. Non-security updates (every month for all channels) provide fixes for known issues to provide stability/performance. You change the channel for users if you want the newest features as soon as they are ready.
Hey bec064! One thing to keep in mind though, and one of the main reasons we created the Monthly Enterprise channel is while you are correct - some Non-security updates can go into every channel each month, we really don't make changes out of band if we can help it. For example, when we are made aware of a bug we will fix it, then release it into our faster channels first. It will then take the normal cycle to get to the Semi-Annual channel, which, depending on when the fix is released, could take that full 6 months. The same is true of things like performance boosts in Outlook for example. I always caution customers to think about those scenarios as well when planning their channel strategy as most customers tend to think of new feature cadence as the only decision when choosing their channels.

@Eric_Wayne How we consider the bugs found in the semi-annual channel but no problem in the preview? Even the consecutive month's release(SM 2002) did not fix any of the issues.

 

how this works in above scenario?

Hi! Thanks for the super fast reply. That certainly is handy to know and something that - really - should be made more clear at the docs.

For both monthly and semi-annual for example.

”Non-security updates”
Once a month, on the second Tuesday of the month.

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/deployoffice/overview-update-channels

@Firoz1723 Unfortunately, that can happen. If we are made aware of a bug after a certain cut off period, we don't have time to fix it and release it before we publish the next version of the Semi-Annual channel. So entire builds of Semi-Annual channel can have a bug in it. However, one thing to consider is that some of the issues aren't from Office itself. We have seen both Windows and Configuration Manager updates create issues for the Office client. It really comes down to when we are made aware of an issue and sometimes a bug is not discovered by us or our customers before the cut off for the next release of Semi-Annual and therefor we can't fix it in time. This is one of the biggest reasons I tell customers for the majority of your devices that are not running macros or doing key line of work processes, that they should use the Monthly Enterprise Channel. That way, when things are discovered, they get fixed and published to this channel much sooner then the Semi-Annual channel.   

”So entire builds of Semi-Annual channel can have a bug in it.” :face_screaming_in_fear:

@ChristianBergstrom - yeah, we should potentially word some of that differently in the article. We have in the past, although it is extremely rare, made a bug fix across all channels in a given month (out of band). We are very cautious about making changes to Semi-Annual Enterprise after it is published as we want to make as few changes to that release as possible. We will make security changes monthly, as that is a necessary code change risk for the greater good. Otherwise, we try to leave that build alone and recommend that channel for the mission critical devices in an organization that are running complex macros and home grown add-ins that need full pass testing. For the rest of the organization, we recommend the Monthly Enterprise Channel so they can get both fixes, and as you correctly called out, features sooner.  

Excellent info. Really appreciate it, Eric.

In case someone is wondering, if this is documented somewhere: Overview of update channels for Microsoft 365 Apps - Deploy Office | Microsoft Docs, section "Non-security updates for Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel", third paragraph. There we documented that SAEC is a "stable" channel, which should not be confused with "the one with the highest number of bugfixes".

Great, didn’t realize the page has been updated either. Good shout :thumbs_up: