Microsoft constantly delivers innovation and improves Microsoft 365 services to help every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Changes are rapid and this is the reality of any cloud service. While committed to enhancing the end user experience, we are also dedicated to helping customers establish effective change management practices. This will enable admins to focus on delivering the most productive and secure experiences to their businesses. Our continuous goal is to build trust and to ensure that while benefiting from the cutting-edge innovations cloud services offer, customers can still thrive on predictability, relevance, and consistency.
Numerous resources, guides, and tools are already available to help Microsoft 365 admins successfully manage change today. Read this article to learn more. One such resource, the Microsoft 365 Roadmap, offers great visibility into upcoming changes to Microsoft 365 apps and services right at the time they are announced. However, this unauthenticated by design experience only offers general status information aggregated for all customers by cloud instance or environment (for example, commercial or government). Customers want to know what new features are being released and in what timeframe, when these features are being launched to a particular tenant and when they will be available to all applicable users, as well as when features will be available in Preview and Targeted Release so they can start validating and preparing for a change. Going forward, we are committed to offering you a set of capabilities to further simplify change management while adopting Microsoft 365 services.
Introducing the new feature release status
We start by providing you with a release status for each new and updated feature announcement in the Message center in the Microsoft 365 admin center to help you track feature availability for your organization. The new release status capability will help make feature release information specific to your organization rather than providing a broad release window for the feature roll out. Admins will not need to constantly check the respective app or service to verify if a particular feature has reached their tenant, and once launched, if it's available to all users in their organization. With the new predictability feature showing the release status, admins will be able to plan end user communications and trainings, and therefore successfully drive services adoption and usage. Initially, the release status* will be available for a limited number of Microsoft Teams, Outlook on the web and Microsoft 365 admin center feature announcements.
As you log in into the Microsoft 365 admin center, you will be able to track feature rollouts** across the following three release stages available on each applicable message, which will be updated over the lifecycle of the feature release:
Scheduled: The feature is planned to release to your tenant and is not yet available to any user in your organization.
Rolling out: The feature is beginning to roll out to some applicable users in your organization.
Launched: The feature is generally available to all the applicable users in your organization.
Similarly, on the Microsoft 365 Roadmap, in the upper right corner of each roadmap item, you will see these dates labeled as "Preview Available" and "Rollout Start." To give you a chronological view of the items you are most interested in, items in the list view can be sorted based on these date labels using the sort selector.
An image demonstrating filter capability on the feature rollout status in Message center to track release status at a glance.
An image providing an example of an organization-specific feature release status for an updated feature in the Message center.
Updates to feature release status will be provided on the original Message center post. Filtering capability on “Status for your org.” will offer easier visibility on the updated release status.
Introducing relevance recommendations for Message center posts
Through our customer conversations, we found that IT admins can feel overwhelmed by the volume of Microsoft 365 changes coming their way. They’d like to know which of these many changes are relevant to their organizations.
To address this, we have lit up an experience in the Message center to give admins the ability to differentiate the changes that are of high, medium, and low relevance to a particular tenant. This recommendation is based on service usage in your organization, and other attributes in a machine learning model. To learn more about relevance recommendations, please see this article.
You can use sort and filter capabilities to scope the Message center posts to one of these the following options:
High: Changes for which you need to act with urgency.
Medium: Changes you focus on next and plan for an action at a later date.
Low: Changes which you can choose to monitor to stay informed.
Note: Relevance recommendations is available for Targeted Release customers. To track the availability of this feature, view this item on the Microsoft 365 Roadmap.
Once you start receiving these relevance recommendations, please tell us how relevant a Message center post is to your organization through the extended feedback capability (example provided in the screenshot below).
An image demonstrating how to scope Message center posts with the Relevance filter by selecting one of three options: High, Medium, and Low.
Targeted Release now available for GCC, GCC High, and DoD
Targeted release is another way Microsoft helps customers establish effective change management practices. It lets you manage how your organization receives updates. You can sign up for early release through Targeted Release so that select set of users in your organization receives updates first. Or you can remain on the default release schedule and receive the updates later.
This capability was only available to commercial customers until recently. It was made available to GCC, GCC High and DoD customers at the start of December 2022. These customers will be able to opt-in to Targeted Release and get early access for OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online, Outlook for the Web, Microsoft 365 admin center features and some Exchange features, with information about other apps and services also available in future.
To opt-in to Targeted Release, follow these steps in the Microsoft 365 admin center: Go to Settings-> Org Settings -> Organization profile -> Release preferences.
An image demonstrating the feedback experience to let Microsoft know when a Message center post is not relevant to your organization.
Targeted Release support coming soon for Microsoft Teams
Previously, the opt-in for Targeted Release provided early access to high quality releases for OneDrive for Business, SharePoint, Office for the web, Microsoft 365 admin center features, and some Exchange features. Targeted Release customers had been asking for this opt-in to also provide early access to Microsoft Teams features. We're excited to share that Microsoft Teams support for Targeted Release commercial cloud customers is coming in March 2023!
With this support, users opted-in to Targeted Release will be the first Production users to see the latest Microsoft Teams features and help shape the product by providing early feedback.
Continue the conversation by joining us in the Microsoft 365 community! Want to share best practices or join community events? Become a member by "Joining" the Microsoft 365 community. For tips & tricks or to stay up to date on the latest news and announcements directly from the product teams, make sure to Follow or Subscribe to the Microsoft 365 Blog space!
*The release status will ONLY be available for generally available new and updated features that are also announced on the Microsoft 365 public roadmap. If you do not see the release status on a message, it means the release status is not available for that feature.
**Release status will be first available for Targeted Release.