May 12, 2020

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.


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