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Microsoft

**5/13/2019 We’ve updated this guidance and published it as an article on docs.microsoft.com: Change the Microsoft 365 Apps update channel for devices in your organization. We recommend that you follow the steps in that article to change channels.”

 

The goal of the blog is to provide clarification around the mechanics on how Microsoft 365 Apps processes channel change requests.

 

To read more about Channels please see Overview of update channels for Microsoft 365 Apps

 

Ideally, minimizing the number of Microsoft 365 Apps packages reduces overall cost of ownership. Therefore, the next step is to develop a process where machines receive standard package placing them on Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel but dynamically move validation machines to faster channel such as Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel (Preview).

Change the update channel with ODT

Step 1: Before you begin, make sure the scheduled task "Office Automatic Update 2.0" is enabled on the client devices. This task, which updates the assigned channel, is a required part of managing updates for Microsoft 365 Apps, whether you use Group Policy, the Office Deployment Tool, or Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr).

 

Step 2: Download the latest version of the ODT (setup.exe) from the Microsoft Download Center.

 

Step 3: Create a configuration file that specifies the new channel name. In the example below, the   channel changes to Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel (Preview). For more information on channel names, see Channel attribute in the Configuration Options article.

<Configuration>
<Updates Channel="Targeted" />
</Configuration>

Step 4: Deploy the configuration file using your standard processes.

After execution of Office Deployment Tool (ODT), the Office Automatic Update 2.0 task will automatically run based on trigger definition in scheduled task. After that task runs, it detects the updated policy and updates the assigned channel. After the task runs again, it detects the new assigned channel and Office updates to a new build from that channel.

The Office user interface such as the "backstage", will not show the updated channel name until a build of Office from the new channel is installed.The Office user interface such as the "backstage", will not show the updated channel name until a build of Office from the new channel is installed.

 

Change the update channel with Group Policy

Step 1: Deploy your standard Microsoft 365 Apps package based on Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel

 

Step 2: Assign GPO to validation machine(s) or add policy registry key specifying Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel (Preview)

 

Using Office ADMX files, use Update Channel GPO to set Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel (Preview)

SACT.jpg

* Group Policy refreshes in the background every 90 minutes by default.  Use gpupdate /force to expedite.  Alternatively, add registry key manually to policy key

             HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\office\16.0\common\officeupdate "updatebranch"="FirstReleaseDeferred"

Step 3: Allow Microsoft\Office\Office Automatic Updates 2.0 scheduled task to run

Group Policy will set registry keys, that’s all. Microsoft 365 Apps uniquely leverages a scheduled task named Office Automatic Updates to maintain product configuration including channel management. The name itself “Automatic Updates” can cause confusion for IT Pros in enterprise environments where System Center Configuration (ConfigMgr) is used to deploy updates. When you enable management of the Office 365 Client Agent setting in client settings (COM), rebranded in ConfigMgr client setting to "Management of Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise", or via domain policy, software updates for Office 365 Client will be delivered only from ConfigMgr. The Office Automatic Updates scheduled task will fire based on default set of triggers, regardless if COM is enabled or not, or by manually running task you can compress time frame to validate change.

 

Microsoft recommends Automatic Updates remain Enabled (default configuration) in all update scenarios. This task does more than name implies. By disabling task, you may observe diminished experience in terms of channel management and disable feature to apply updates when SYSTEM is IDLE.Microsoft recommends Automatic Updates remain Enabled (default configuration) in all update scenarios. This task does more than name implies. By disabling task, you may observe diminished experience in terms of channel management and disable feature to apply updates when SYSTEM is IDLE.

See 2:00 in Managing Office with SCCM (2019) video for more information, applicable for CDN update workflow.

 

Tip: List of Channels and respective URL identifiersTip: List of Channels and respective URL identifiers

CDNBaseUrl represents the channel where product was installed. If no channel was defined in unattend, Monthly is default selection.

Monthly Enterprise Channel
CDNBaseUrl = http://officecdn.microsoft.com/pr/55336b82-a18d-4dd6-b5f6-9e5095c314a6

Current Channel 

CDNBaseUrl = http://officecdn.microsoft.com/pr/492350f6-3a01-4f97-b9c0-c7c6ddf67d60

Current Channel (Preview)
CDNBaseUrl = http://officecdn.microsoft.com/pr/64256afe-f5d9-4f86-8936-8840a6a4f5be

Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel
CDNBaseUrl = http://officecdn.microsoft.com/pr/7ffbc6bf-bc32-4f92-8982-f9dd17fd3114

Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel (Preview)
CDNBaseUrl = http://officecdn.microsoft.com/pr/b8f9b850-328d-4355-9145-c59439a0c4cf

Beta Channel
CDNBaseUrl = http://officecdn.microsoft.com/pr/5440fd1f-7ecb-4221-8110-145efaa6372f

Tip: IT Pros can monitor several registry keys to validate change has occurred after scheduled task has completed. Registry keys of interest when monitoring can be found under the following key: HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\ClickToRun\Configuration.  Editing key(s) should not be done directly and can lead to unintended consequences. Rather, monitor keys for desired outcome.Tip: IT Pros can monitor several registry keys to validate change has occurred after scheduled task has completed. Registry keys of interest when monitoring can be found under the following key: HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\ClickToRun\Configuration. Editing key(s) should not be done directly and can lead to unintended consequences. Rather, monitor keys for desired outcome.                                                                                                         

UpdateChannel: This is the channel configuration “winner”.  This is dynamically managed by the Automatic Updates scheduled task and should not be edited directly.

 

In our example where we are using GPO to move Office 365 ProPlus to Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel (Preview), Office Automatic Updates scheduled task will discover policy key and then will flip UpdateChannel to new value, in this case from http://officecdn.microsoft.com/pr/7ffbc6bf-bc32-4f92-8982-f9dd17fd3114 (SAC) to http://officecdn.microsoft.com/pr/b8f9b850-328d-4355-9145-c59439a0c4cf (SAC-T). Additionally, UpdateChannelChanged will be set to True. Upon next successful Office 365 Client update, UpdateChannelChanged will reset to False. The product can only accept one channel change request at a time with successful update as a prerequisite prior to accepting another change.

 

If you have completed steps above and channel change is still not being reflected, you may be blocked by timers referred to as “Discovery Period” or "DoFrequentUpdates". IT Pros may encounter this scenario during compressed time validation in lab scenarios.  During this period channel changes and Office downloads will not occur. (default timer period is 24 hours).  The Office logs in C:\windows\temp\%Computername%* will provide "Less than a day since last update run, just trying to apply!".  This is an example where timer is in scope.

 

After UpdateChannel has successfully changed, Office 365 Clients pointing to CDN will download latest build from faster channel. Office 365 Clients which have COM enabled for ConfigMgr integration will download newer build next time Software Updates Deployment Evaluation cycle runs based on configuration of Software Deployment within ConfigMgr. IT Pros can expedite testing channel migration by deploying desired build to validation collection (should be a build from Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel (Preview), use the Configuration Manager applet from control panel to perform Machine Policy Retrieval followed by Software Updates Deployment Evaluation Cycle.

 

Applet.png

 

Tip: Office 365 ProPlus behavior – slow to fast vs fast to slowTip: Office 365 ProPlus behavior – slow to fast vs fast to slow

Slower -> Faster (Example: Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel to Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel (Preview)

  • Client will always gracefully move forward when now available build number is higher.  For example, a client on June 2019 Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel with build version 1808 (Build 10730.20348) will move to Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel (Preview) with build Version 1902 (Build 11328.20318).  No other Administrative intervention is required, normal update process\workflow applies the change.

Faster -> Slower (Example: SAC-T to SAC)

  • In ConfigMgr managed environment where management of the Office 365 Client Agent setting (COM) is enabled, Office will not auto downgrade when channel is changed.  It will only move forward once build advertised is greater than what’s currently installed.  For example, Office client on Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel (Preview) build June 2019 Version 1902 (Build 11328.20318) will have to wait until Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel build number is greater to move forward such as July 2019 Version 1902 (Build 11328.20368).  Supported downgrade method is to re-run Office Deployment Tool (ODT) with desired build and channel.  Keep in mind during waiting period, Office 365 Client will not receive any updates including security.
  • In non COM managed environment such as default configuration CDN, we will downgrade your new version to match the Group Policy assigned.  

*Since we can’t do binary delta compression (BDC) the download will be larger.  As a result, network considerations should be considered when downgrading from CDN.  For example, Delivery Optimization should be enabled in Windows to allow clients to share content peer to peer.  This also can be combined with features in ConfigMgr such as Connected Cache for further optimization.

 

FAQ:

How does channel management work when Office 2019 is installed and GPO "Upgrade Office 2019 to Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise" is enabled?

Some customers may have a need to have one factory image of Windows which includes Office 2019 and later upgrade a subset of machines to Office 365 ProPlus.  The steps outlined above still apply in terms of mechanics and how channel chnages are processed.  The only difference is Office 2019 will initially have CDNBaseURL and UpdateChannel will reflect http://officecdn.microsoft.com/pr/f2e724c1-748f-4b47-8fb8-8e0d210e9208.  First, the GPO above will set policy key.  Second, The Office Automatic Updates 2.0 scheduled task will flip the UpdateChannel to Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel (3114) by default and dynamically convert the product to Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel.  In short, Office 2019 is just an older version of Microsoft 365 Apps, so differences in content between the two products will download from CDN or from ConfigMgr Distribution Point depending on your configuration. (Size will be significant for one-time conversion).  For CDN, this process is automatic.  For ConfigMgr, IT Pro only needs to deploy latest Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel build software update to collection, just like any monthly "Patch Tuesday" process.  ConfigMgr will find build applicable and upgrade like any other Office update.  Licensing\Activation will switch from volume activation (KMS) to subscription based (Office Licensing Service).

 

Why does this guidance differ from ConfigMgr page Change the update channel after you enable Office 365 clients to receive updates from Configuration ...?

Microsoft recommends customers leverage Group Policy to change Microsoft 365 Apps channels because its easier for IT Pros. Group Policy sets registry key under policy hive and Office Automatic Updates scheduled task to processes channel change.  The link above references CDNBaseURL.  Notice from the list below this is the 4th item evaluated for priority by the scheduled task.  As a result, if the first three priorities listed are not configured and CDNBaseURL doesn't match UpdateChannel, scheduled task will align them resulting in channel change.  This blog posting leads with Group Policy where link above requires a direct registry change through Group Policy Preferences or Compliance Item in SCCM.

 

1st Priority : GPO "UpdatePath" - HKLM\software\policies\microsoft\office\16.0\common\officeupdate!updatepath
2nd Priority : GPO "UpdateChannel" - HKLM\software\policies\microsoft\office\16.0\common\officeupdate!updatebranch
3rd Priority : "UpdateURL" or UpdatePath="\\Server\Share" HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\ClickToRun\Configuration
4th Priority : CDNBaseURL - HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\ClickToRun\Configuration\CDNBaseUrl

I hope this blog post helps provide additional context for how Office ProPlus Channel Management works "under the hood".

 

This blog post is brought to you by Dave Guenthner, a Senior Premier Field Engineer and “ProPlus Ranger” at Microsoft. Feel free to share your questions and feedback in the comments below.

8 Comments
Senior Member

If you downgrade from a monthly channel to a semi-annual channel, does this mean you are going out of support?

Microsoft

No.  Support life cycle is defined by the channel itself.. coming from another channel doesn't matter.  For example:  If you are on Monthly 1907 11901.20218 and moved client to slower Semi-Annual 190211328.20392, this SAC Version would stay supported until September 8, 2020.  (Of course, need to deliver the SAC Extended builds for security each month but supported as if client was installed on SAC)

Update history for Office 365 ProPlus (listed by date)

2019-08-23_19-57-57.png

Occasional Contributor

Thanks for this great article. I am having an issue where moving from UNC path updates to SCCM updates does not seem to change the UpdateChannel property in the registry so I can't migrate.

 

My client settings below:

 

PS HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\ClickToRun\Configuration> Get-ItemProperty .


OfficeMgmtCOM                  : True
VersionToReport                : 16.0.9126.2259
ClientFolder                   : C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\ClickToRun
ClientVersionToReport          : 16.0.9126.2259
WatcherInterval                : 3600000
PipelineServerName             : ClickToRun_Pipeline16
PackageLockerPath              : C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Office
ScenarioCulture                :
InstallID                      : 26CB5AE4-2F17-449F-9338-13A0177C5AC0
Platform                       : x64
InstallationPath               : C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office
ClientCulture                  : en-us
CDNBaseUrl                     : http://officecdn.microsoft.com/pr/7ffbc6bf-bc32-4f92-8982-f9dd17fd3114
AudienceId                     : obfuscated
AudienceData                   : Production::DC
None.MediaType                 : Local
O365ProPlusRetail.MediaType    : Local
SharedComputerLicensing        : 0
UpdatesEnabled                 : True
Activate                       : True
O365ProPlusRetail.ExcludedApps : access,groove,onedrive
StreamingFinished              : True
ProductReleaseIds              : O365ProPlusRetail
RSODReset                      : False
O365ProPlusRetail.OSPPReady    : 1
UpdateChannel                  : \\previousuncpath\updates
UpdateChannelChanged           : True
O365ProPlusRetail.TenantId     : obfuscated
O365ProPlusRetail.EmailAddress : user@company.com
PSPath                         : Microsoft.PowerShell.Core\Registry::HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\Click
                                 ToRun\Configuration
PSParentPath                   : Microsoft.PowerShell.Core\Registry::HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\Click
                                 ToRun
PSChildName                    : Configuration
PSDrive                        : HKLM
PSProvider                     : Microsoft.PowerShell.Core\Registry

 

And the policy settings:

 

PS HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\office\16.0\common\officeupdate\> Get-ItemProperty .


updatebranch        : Deferred
officemgmtcom       : 1
preventteamsinstall : 1
setbitsasprimary    : 1

 

I have repeatedly ran the Task as below and the UpdateChannel is stuck on the previous UNC value.

My task though is named "Office Automatic Updates" and not "Office Automatic Updates 2.0" since I am on version 1803 still.

 

Let me know if I can manually modify that registry entry (possibly delete it and re-run the task or change to a known CDNUrl one) so updates can happen.

 

Thanks a lot!

Occasional Contributor

I tried changing the UpdateChannel to the same value as CDNBaseUrl and now it works properly.

So it seems my Task is not updating the values properly and most possibly because it's a very old Office build?

 

 

-

Alex

Microsoft

@Alexander Kanakaris Thank you for your post.  I suspect you're running into a scenario which is unfortunate but "by design".  UpdateChannelChanged : True means the Office client processed a change, likely moving the client from SAC -> custom UNC path.  True means, the product will not accept any further changes until next successful update.  As an evergreen product, we're expecting the product to be updated at least one time which would reset this value to False.  Once False, Office would then accept a new directive like changing the channel  (I tested this with your values and it worked, meaning it would flip from UNC path to CDN to match CDNBaseUrl).  Its a way for the product to control change followed by a successful update.  If I had to resolve this issue I would overwrite the UpdateChannel value as you did (one time deal).  The client should update and reset UpdateChannelChanged : False.  When performing validation in lab scenario, reset any value like * 13232809838351 to 0 in HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\ClickToRun\Updates.  This will ensure the scheduled task will actually change the channel  as we have several timers which may delay change for 24 hours.  This is to prevent you from running the task over and over and it actually is blocked by timer.  DO NOT alter on production machine, this is for validation testing only.

 

As a value add, I notice you have the BITS policy... we've moved in direction of leveraging Delivery Optimization for perform content sharing peer to peer.  You may find value in the following article.

 

Delivery Optimization and Microsoft 365 Apps

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/deployoffice/delivery-optimization

 

 

Senior Member

Dave, 

 

thank you very much for your precious reply and the additional information on DO.

I noticed that while Office is updating via SCCM (no content lives on DPs), all files are saved under ccmcache. Is this normal and does it "count" against total size of ccmcache size? Other SUP updates do not count against the ccmcache quota size.

 

--

Alex

Microsoft

@AlexandrosAP See the FAQ section of my other blog posting where this is answered "If the download is supposed to only contain deltas and stage to C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Updates\Download, why in my environment is it staged in C:\Windows\ccmcache and full build? (~2GB)..."

Understanding Office 365 ProPlus Updates for IT Pros (CDN vs SCCM)

Occasional Contributor

Thank you Dave!

 

 

Alex