The Update Staging Lab is now Test Base for Microsoft 365 and today, as part of Microsoft Ignite 2020, we are announcing several new features developed in direct response to your feedback. As we all adjust to remote and hybrid work, organizations big and small are turning to technology and leveraging cloud and automation solutions to facilitate collaboration, stay productive, and ensure business continuity. With Test Base for Microsoft 365, we are looking to modernize application testing for software vendors, IT professionals, and their organizations.
In this post, I’ll share more information about Test Base for Microsoft 365, walk you through the new features, and summarize the steps you can take today to take advantage of this service.
What is Test Base for Microsoft 365?
Test Base for Microsoft 365 is an Azure service that facilitates data-driven testing of applications. Backed by the power of data and the cloud, the service enables software vendors and IT professionals to take advantage of intelligent application testing from anywhere in the world. If you are a developer or a tester, and you do not want to worry about your apps continuing to work as platform dependencies, such as the latest Windows updates, change, consider using Test Base for Microsoft 365. It will help you test your applications without the hassle, time commitment, and expenditure of setting up and maintaining complex test environments. It will also give you access to pre-release Windows updates on secure virtual machines (VMs) and world-class Intelligence on the performance and reliability of your applications.
A new tool in your IT toolbox
As an IT professional, one of your key responsibilities is to keep your device estate current, not only with platform updates like those for Windows and Office, but also with other types of updates, such as those related to drivers and applications. We have heard your feedback loud and clear: you want to be to 100% sure that your business-critical apps don't break. You want to ensure your end users' productivity is not interrupted. You must strike a balance between rolling out updates as soon as they are released and testing key apps before broad deployment. This is where a service like Test Base for Microsoft 365 can shine!
Microsoft has improved, and continues to improve, application compatibility with Windows 10 and Office 365, causing fewer regression issues. Recent statistics from our App Assure program indicate that 99.75% of customer and software vendor apps in the ecosystem are compatible with the latest build of Windows 10. We have created assessment tools such as Desktop Analytics, phased deployment options in Configuration Manager and Microsoft Endpoint Manager, and the Windows Insider Program for early flighting—all to help drive confidence even higher.
In spite of these great tools and offerings, the majority of our customers still depend on lab-based testing for their critical applications and drivers. Furthermore, the size of the install base for these applications or the business-critical nature of these apps can make it painful when encountering a failure. Testing continues to provide greater assurance against any surprises. However, most if not all testing is steeped in legacy processes and standing on decades-old test collateral and harnesses. Test Base for Microsoft 365 aspires to help organizations focus their test efforts and get to the level of confidence they seek in far less time.
We are initially extending our Test Base for Microsoft 365 offering to critical third-party software vendors whose applications (e.g. antivirus, VPN, and disk encryption) are relied upon by large customer bases. As we think about extending value to enterprise organizations, we will leverage Microsoft Endpoint Manager deployment workflows to do so. In the future, test results from Test Base for Microsoft 365 will be made available in Microsoft Endpoint Manager natively to help you with device and application assessments, all to drive higher deployment confidence.
While we build this seamless workflow, here is what you can do as an IT professional today:
Support for Windows feature update validation. This was one of the top asks from software vendors enrolled in our private preview. We find that customers carry out more extensive testing when it comes to Windows feature updates and would like to have the assurance that their critical apps will continue to work after deploying these updates.
Enabled testing with Windows update packages (latest cumulative updates, or LCUs) as opposed to using VHD media to image VMs with updates being tested. This will help better mimic real-world customer scenarios encountered when updating end user devices.
What’s next on the roadmap for Test Base for Microsoft 365?
We are continuously listening to you, our customers, to better understand your current testing practices and challenges. We evaluate every piece of feedback we gather to prioritize the next features and capabilities for the Test Base service. Examples of capabilities that you can expect to light up in the next few months include support for Windows 7 monthly security updates, support for Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server 2019 monthly security updates, and easier ways to manage application packages you have already uploaded.
We are engaging with select enterprise customers now to understand their needs and design a solution that fits in seamlessly with the deployment workflow in Microsoft Endpoint Manager. If you would like to participate in this discussion, please nominate yourself.
Join the community
If you are interested in shaping the future of this important service for the world, I invite you to come join us on the new Test Base for Microsoft 365 community community on Tech Community where you can share your experiences and connect with other customers using the service. If you are software vendor who is interested in onboarding your applications to Test Base for Microsoft 365, or if you are an IT professional whose organization is interested in nominating a software vendor to participate, please complete the preview sign-up form.