A new wave of innovation to help IT modernize servicing of Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise

Published 05-12-2020 01:49 PM 33.4K Views

Many of you have been looking for ways to bring the latest capabilities to your users to stay the most productive and secure. Customers who have switched to a faster update cadence, tell us about higher end-user satisfaction as they benefit from many capabilities and improvements as soon as they are available. The current worldwide environment has triggered an unprecedented acceleration in digital transformation, prompting IT to support companywide transitions to remote work without affecting productivity. Recent enhancements to popular collaboration capabilities such as Comments, While you were away, and @mentions have proven particularly useful, as the demand for real-time collaboration grows. To help you bring the latest capabilities like these and others to your users faster, we recommend customers choose Current Channel as their update cadence for servicing Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise.*


We recognize that to manage more complex environments, you need extra tools and more time to validate new features without additional burden on IT. To support these requirements, we are releasing a whole new set of capabilities throughout the year. Based on a modern management approach, we’re focusing this wave of innovation on delivering servicing predictability, additional tools to manage the health of your environments, and a more efficient issue resolution process.** Today, we start by announcing the general availability of the new Monthly Enterprise Channel and a few other changes that modernize the way you service Microsoft 365 Apps, as you deliver the latest productivity value to your businesses.


New Monthly Enterprise Channel


As an IT admin, you can control how often the users in your organization get new Microsoft 365 Apps features by specifying the update channel. Before today, some of our customers have opted for less frequent updates due to the unpredictable nature and network stress of a faster cadence. The new Monthly Enterprise Channel is designed to alleviate many of those concerns and reduce the burden on IT. Choosing this update channel will allow you to offer your company the latest productivity features, like real-time collaboration, the latest reliability and performance improvements, and security updates on a predictable, once-a-month cadence. All updates will be delivered as one package on the second Tuesday of each month, which we call “Patch Tuesday.”


Because all Monthly Enterprise Channel updates are shipped once a month, you will benefit from both low interruption and the ability to optimize network utilization for your enterprise. Capabilities like Delivery Optimization are already available to help you optimize bandwidth when downloading new bits, as well as regular updates.


To help you better manage changes while moving to a faster cadence, Monthly Enterprise Channel will be offering additional capabilities to advance the health of your environment and  a more transparent and faster issue resolution process. To learn more about the new update channel and how it is different from other existing update channels, read this article.


Microsoft 365 admin center experience for setting up Monthly Enterprise Channel (new channel names will appear on June 9th).Microsoft 365 admin center experience for setting up Monthly Enterprise Channel (new channel names will appear on June 9th).


Streamlining names for existing channels for Microsoft 365 Apps


As we introduce the new channel and our servicing model keeps evolving, we are renaming the existing update channels (Insider, Monthly, and Semi-Annual) to help you make better decisions about the servicing strategy for your organization. This change only applies to those of you running Microsoft 365 Apps on Windows devices. You will have an option to choose among Current, Monthly, or Semi-Annual channels. Testing channels will now be called Preview, instead of Targeted. While the Insider program remains, we will use Beta Channel as the new name for the channel designed for our early adopter/insider audience. Learn more about new update channel names in this article.


New names

Recommended use

Beta Channel

For early adopters, IT Pros, and developers who join the Insider community to get access to the earliest build

Current Channel (Preview)

For enterprises to have early access to the upcoming Current Channel release and for fans or early adopters who want early access but also more stability

Current Channel

To provide your end users with the most current Office features and latest security value as soon as they are ready

Monthly Enterprise Channel

For customers who need the latest features on a predictable monthly cadence

Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel (Preview)

For enterprises to preview the experience for the upcoming Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel release

Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel

For select devices in your organization where extensive testing is needed before rolling out new Office features (e.g., to comply with regulatory, governmental, or other organizational requirements)


Changing default update channel setting for new tenants to Current Channel


Along with the new capabilities to help you better service Microsoft 365 Apps, new tenants installing Microsoft 365 Apps will be defaulted to Current Channel. This update channel delivers feature updates as soon as they are production-ready and is fully compliant and supported. Feature updates, additional security updates, quality updates, and bug fixes are delivered about two or three times a month. This update channel is recommended for broad deployment across organizations of any size, including educational institutions. This change will start rolling out on June 9, 2020. There is no change to the default update channel setting for existing tenants.


Regardless of where you are in your cloud journey, your company looks to you for guidance on how to stay streamlined, cost-effective, and secure. This is only the beginning of the innovation wave offering you modern options to manage client app software, as you make your business competitive and productive.


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.


Thank you for your continuous feedback. Visit UserVoice to send us your ideas.


Ask us questions in our dedicated Tech Community space,*** watch new episodes on our Deployment Insider channel to learn more and explore the Office Insider program to give your users access to early features before deploying more broadly.


*Previously known as Office 365 ProPlus.

**Additional capabilities are shipping later this year.

***Previously known as the Office 365 ProPlus community space.


Super Contributor

So, when are you going to rename this blog? :)

Frequent Contributor

This feels like April Fool's Day.  (Edited) Another rename....


I will say though, enabling Office to use Windows 10's Delivery Optimization is a great thing (not sure exactly how new that capability is).

Super Contributor

DO is not new for Office, they just mention this as an additional help to reduce distraction and network load.

Frequent Contributor

DO won't work if you are using ODT or GPO to distribute from a network share.

Is this still valid? 

Occasional Contributor

More channels and new names... why, just WHY?! You are just making things more complicated for your customers.

Frequent Contributor

@Johan Nilsson @Tara_Roth admins and System integrators have better things to do than to constantly change, update ODT deployments and config files and ADMX templates.


Updates happen so often that we could need an email notification for new office ODT and ADMX files. Can you please consider this?


On the topic, I loved it while Office and Windows shared the same naming terminology for rings. 


Now they differ again. It is uneeded, you are one company yet different teams. Please align your "language".


This would really help IT. 


Also this change recently added to the renaming of most of the product names like Microsoft Office Apps. 


I like that it is now clear which subscribers will have installable apps or not just by seeing the subscription name.


But you missed it for home customers!

It should be named


Microsoft Office 365 Apps for Families


At the end ideas are great but are inconsistent. 

Valued Contributor

Thank you for sharing and this is really great , especially because we have diverse users.

Occasional Contributor

We also need to have a follow up article for IT Pros explaining with the referrals to the CDNUrls in the registry so we can setup our collections (yet again).


I also vote against these constant name changes that have all sorts of dependencies. 



@K_Wester-Ebbinghaus DO will not work for Office updates if using on-premises file share.  Expectation is, customers are using CDN or CDN + ConfigMgr Connected Cache when leveraging cloud service like DO.  



@Alexander Kanakaris While the Channel names may change, the underlying registry entries do not.  Meaning, we keep backwards compatibility.  I updated blog with updated information, perhaps that will help.

Frequent Contributor

@Dave Guenthner thank you for your reply.


The thing about changing channel names : the changes happen, admins have their old ODT and xml and it starts DL other branches as expected. It affected those on semi annual.


I wasn't affected as I keep customers on monthly for different reasons, e. g. Bugfixes. 


The baseline is that we need a better approach to the changes. Some have no time ressources to visit techcommunity.microsoft.com or Reading office changes in the admin portal. 


Managing Office, ODT and ADMX is not their full job so you can understand why they are having issues with such names.



As I've said earlier I dislike the change because the previous name were more logical and following the scheme of Windows, VSC etc. 


Now Office is again unbundled. I plea to intro the new branch, if needed and revert the name changing for other branches to be honest. 

Frequent Contributor

A new wave of innovation to help IT staff and users


After some time passed and emotional distance I would like to mildly reinforce my concerns:

Now the Windows team also renamed their rings to channels with only mild changes, the break between Product teams is now visible.
Microsoft is one company. But each product team has its own agenda. 

Consistency matters. I am sorry to say to use these words - as they reminds me to another thing being even more viable.

Office 365 "start pages" - if only options, feedback, account could be located the same way in Outlook as in all other apps. Outlook was always different from the others - see Outlook 2007 / 2010 etc, not mentioning the other details. 



Your naming agenda
It is clear that there is no real similarity between channel names, except Windows has "beta" and Office has "beta" but they have completely different target audiences.


comparing channel names by pure audience targeting definition


BetaCurrent Channel preview
Release (SAC)Monthly (narrow minded SAC Enterprise, but doesn't apply for Home users, such it is the SAC equivalent)
-SAC Enterprise Preview (slowest pace preview)
LTSC SAC Enterprise (slowest pace)


For usual admins and customers - users - mostly do not care - 

These little things are a horror. People outside the tech, as we are here, will not memorize channel names as we do - I see even Insiders struggling as we had about 4-5 channel renamings since 2015, afaik,



Then again consistency:
- I keep explaining users what is the difference between Outlook 2016 and Outlook 365, and there is a big difference
- why the MAPI Setting is only available in and from Control Panel, not from Settings app

- why they won't find it as Outlook 365 but only as Mail or Outlook 2016, while in fact having Office / Outlook 365 installed.

- why, after 5 years of Windows 10, and feedback hub entries galore, they cannot find this particular setting from Windows (Start) Search, but only after opening the declared Legacy Control panel, which they should refrain to use for sake of Settings app and better readability on high res screens. These little wonders. 

You might call me nitpicking, I am. Because it is so hard to explain to the users why things are not as expected, after all the SaaS and continuous modernization.


Follow your own changes and make them complete.


If I had a magic wand: same CHANNEL names for Windows and Office, at least, at best fitting with the scheme of other products like


- Terminal

- Powershell

- .net 

- Server Products

- Powertoys



On the top of that, how it can get worse:

Did you even notice that on Android there is a Microsoft Launcher? It is an amazing and versatile thing I don't want to miss.
There is a

- Microsoft Launcher
- Microsoft Launcher Beta (comparingly to Windows 10 beta channel)

- Microsoft Launcher preview (comparingly Windows 10 dev channel, just named otherwise)


Given the download numbers which user shall understand which is which from the name.

I might also guess ok there is a launcher and a preview of it. Is the preview still in devevelopment or was it a seperate app no longer in dev now that we have the release and a optin beta.

As most having the Microsoft Launcher you can - optin / out into Beta (google feature) while Laucher Preview is a complete own package and own launcher, technically seperated from Launcher and Launcher beta which is basically one. 


I hope you get my point. Same with the many office channels with even different namings, differing from Windows.


KISS keep it simple - I am afraid Office channels need a better consistent naming, sooner than later before the current one settle for some months.

@Tara_Roth@Dave Guenthner what do you think?



Frequent Contributor

@K_Wester-Ebbinghaus well done summarizing, and you only scratched the surface.  Let's throw into this exposure-athon, Windows vs Microsoft and Defender vs Security, and related to these, the loose use of (or not use of) "Guard".

Next look at all the overlapping iterations of *** Information Protection.  As if moving into data classification wasn't a challenge to begin with, now there is picking between 3 starting places and migrating between them as it is slowly figured out internally which product will win the long race.


Them there is *** Advanced Threat Protection.


When you go and look at the product plan comparison pages for M365, O365, EMS, AIP, AAD, Windows 10, you start to find mysteries even there.  Not even internally is it all memorized second nature by anyone.


Final area of gripe, and the one that stirs up my anxiety the most - studying for exams.  It's a nightmare to study for some exams.  The "official" practice tests are unable to keep up, yet still cost a lot and there is simply no resolution other than studying with bad information and being on your A game so you can know when the "answers" are right or wrong.


I'm at least happy there are feedback hooks in just about every interface these days, so I can harp into them to keep my head from exploding.

Frequent Contributor

"It's a nightmare to study for some exams.  The "official" practice tests are unable to keep up, yet still cost a lot and there is simply no resolution other than studying with bad information and being on your A game so you can know when the "answers" are right or wrong."


So true. I have raised this exam issues already. Some tests are hard to take because the questions are technically wrong or outdated. It is ok for not passing 1000/1000 but if see coworkers on the edge of pass score, this is a problem.

I am still pending MD101. No one was able to tell me if tests will consider the removed dashboards and new unifing one. 

To aid our points. This is a well done article, but it describes that IT has to care more about getting the Core stuff running like ADMX, ODT, etc than being able to conduct projects with or improving their processes which is needed most of the times.



Occasional Visitor

At @K_Wester-Ebbinghaus  request, I have a modest proposal for re-aligning the Windows development cycle. Four buckets: Canary, Beta, Preview and Stable. I think Microsoft has built a fantastic maze of nuanced hierarchies, when all we need is something very simple.



Frequent Contributor

Hi thanks for your feedback, Office Insiders also posted something, that surprised me, as they have a different understanding of their channels, as I personally interpreted it from this blog table.


comparing channel names by pure audience targeting definition (how I understand the channel description of Office and Windows)


BetaCurrent Channel preview
Release (SAC)Monthly (narrow minded SAC Enterprise, but doesn't apply for Home users, such it is the SAC equivalent)
-SAC Enterprise Preview (slowest pace preview)
LTSC SAC Enterprise (slowest pace)
understanding of Channels presented by Office Insider team:



To keep up a vital and constructive discussion I am thankful they reached out on twitter to explain their point of view. 

Certainly from their point of view all looks more consistent. So ultimately, me or other just got the descriptions for channels wrong?


Occasional Visitor

reset win



I'm having compatibility issue with MS Project Professional 2016 (Semi-Annual Enterprise version 2008) connecting to SharePoint Project Server 2013.


The same MS Project Project Professional 2016 (version 1908 version) working fine without any issue but unfortunately, the Microsoft support has ended last week and we have updated the MS Proj Profession 2016 to version 2008 but now we are facing compatibility issues and not able to open SharePoint Server 2013. 


I do not see any posts in msdn regarding the compatibility of MPP 2016 new versions to Server 2013.


Can someone help me in getting the solution.

Frequent Contributor

@Vinodkumar9290 I suggest to place this question to the Microsoft Q&A forums for Office or better Sharepoint or the Office techcomunmunity blog. Otherwise please feel encouraged to open a support ticket. 

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