The work of the IT admin community over the last few months has been nothing short of heroic. It’s always been the role of IT to build secure and resilient infrastructures, but practically overnight you became leaders in enabling an entirely new way of work for your organizations.
As remote work becomes the new norm, you will continue to play a critical role by applying the right technology to deliver a flawless user experience, reduce costs, and digitally transform. I’m proud to announce the preview of new cloud-based capabilities within the Microsoft 365 Apps admin center to help you manage Office apps as a service and better manage your IT costs. Three pillars work together to bring this new service to life:
Intelligent insights, including Apps Inventory, Add-In Inventory, and Security Currency, to give you a deep view into your environment to help you act quickly if you find problems.
Servicing automation with controls, including Servicing Profile that delivers not only comprehensive servicing automation but also gives you the necessary precision controls to deliver updates based on metrics, optimize network utilization and streamline processes for less business disruption.
Microsoft 365 Apps health, including alerting and reporting to help you increase the performance, and reliability of Office apps.
We’re enabling you to get quick answers to frequently asked questions about your Office environment with these additions. Using Office Inventory, you can drill into detailed views of devices running Office apps in your environment to understand which Office client versions and Office add-ins are running. You can also see which servicing channel each device belongs to: Beta Channel, Current Channel, Monthly Enterprise Channel, or Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel. This helps you act quickly to manage unsupported Office build versions and add-ins to ensure your environment is secure and compliant. You can easily export these results to create reports for internal or external audits.
The Security page in the Microsoft 365 Apps admin center provides a dashboard view of your security update compliance. You can see the latest patch date and percentage of Office apps in your environment that are up to date. You can also see which devices and apps have failed to update and determine what actions to take next. To help manage security updates for Office apps, you can set a goal time and goal percentage to specify when devices should be updated after a security patch is released. In the Servicing action center in the Microsoft 365 Apps admin center, you can easily specify a Target version to change the update channel for devices by user or Azure Active Directory group. This way, you can ensure that specific devices receive updates only when you’ve chosen. You can also easily roll back updates for certain users or groups.
Servicing automation with controls
Streamlined and automated Microsoft 365 Apps servicing helps you reduce the burden of manual deployments and accelerate the rollout of the latest productivity features and security patches without adding extra effort and costs. Our new Servicing Profile feature can associate devices in your organization to automate the delivery of monthly Office app updates from the Office CDN. Updates are throttled using our wave algorithm, which is helpful if you have users receiving updates in areas where network congestion or bandwidth is an issue.
You can view the Servicing Profile by device and easily pause and resume updates as needed. If you learn that users are experiencing issues with an update, you can pause updates until issues are resolved. You can also restore updates easily to a previous version in the event you experience unforeseen issues after a rollout.
Through the Servicing Profile, you can also specify exclusion date periods when Office apps updates should not run, such as during company town halls, board meetings, or holiday seasons. This can be scheduled once, or on a recurring basis, based on your business’s needs. To help ensure compliance with Office apps updates, you can choose either to let users install updates at their own pace, or you can force updates to happen by a particular deadline.
Microsoft 365 Apps Servicing profile
Microsoft 365 Apps health
Innovations in app health give you insights not just during, but also between deployments. From the Microsoft 365 Apps health dashboard in Microsoft 365 Apps admin center, you can view the overall health of your tenant at a glance at any time to help you understand which Office apps updates your devices are running and actions to take to increase performance and reliability. You can monitor trends in performance and reliability in your organization and assess how many users are reporting diagnostics to help you discover issues. Microsoft 365 Apps health also shows advisories to inform you about issues occurring in your environment with information about which Office apps and update channels are experiencing the problems. We are also bringing you high-level insights into the health of the Office apps, such as currency through Productivity Score. Learn more about accessing and using the Microsoft 365 Apps health dashboard to help you optimize Office clients in your tenant.
Health status of Microsoft 365 Apps in the Microsoft 365 Apps admin center
We’ve also enabled a more efficient end-user feedback process and faster response to issues to help you better understand user sentiment and reduce your IT support burden. When you must roll back an update to a previous build, you can report blocking issues to Microsoft. These will be escalated quickly to the Office Product Team. You can view the progress of issue resolution and see when a fix will be available in a future build.
The value of the up-to-date Microsoft 365 Apps
In May, we announced the new Monthly Enterprise Channel as the first capability in this wave of innovation to help you modernize servicing of Microsoft 365 Apps. Today we are happy to share some evidence from our customers, as they are finding benefits of both a faster cadence to deliver productivity and security value and the predictability the new channel brings along.
“We like the guarantee of only one update per month with a faster cadence for features and bug fixes. I believe we will be able to expand upon the success we have already seen and deploy Monthly Enterprise Channel to a much wider audience.” - Dawn Wentner, Senior Systems Analyst, Chevron
“The reasoning for choosing Monthly Enterprise Channel is that our users like the predictability the new channel offers, knowing that they are going to receive updates once a month. This also helps us stay current with security features while allowing us ample time to do testing with other apps, macros, add-ins that use Office.“ - Basith Raheem, End User Technology Analyst, Mars
“The new servicing profile gives us great visibility into the device inventory and the update status within few hours of the update release, without us even managing the updates. Transition to the new Monthly Enterprise Channel went smoothly and completed without impacting any end-user productivity, the overall experience is a huge value add.” - Sunila Chugh, Consultant, Workstation Engineering, Avanade
Backed up by all the new servicing capabilities that give you deep insights while leaving you in control, Current Channel (our recommendation) provides your users with the newest Office features as soon as they are ready. If you would benefit from additional predictability for when new Office features are released each month, we recommend the Monthly Enterprise Channel. Learn more about our further recommendations and channels to help you deliver the latest value to the business.