Why the new schedule?
Feedback has almost always been Microsoft’s impetus to make changes of any kind, and this is no exception. The software giant wanted to simplify the update process and improve coordination between Office 365 and Windows, and the new schedule should handle both of those aims.
This is particularly helpful for those using Secure Productive Enterprise (SPE). SPE was bundled with Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus, meaning subscribers had to deal with two separate upgrades prior to the new schedule. Moving forward, things will be simplified as a single update twice a year will suffice.
What else changed?
Microsoft is extending support for ProPlus from 12 months per update to 18 months. This means you can technically update once or twice a year, which we’ll discuss in more detail below.
They’ve also changed the following terminology used in their updates:
- Current Channel → Monthly Channel
- First Release for Deferred Channel → Semi-annual Channel (Pilot)
- Deferred Channel → Semi-annual Channel (Broad)
The Semi-annual Channel (Pilot) and Semi-annual Channel (Broad) describe the twice-a-year feature updates and how they will be deployed: the former to be used as deployment testing and the latter for actual deployment to an organization’s users.
When will the first ProPlus upgrade be released under the new schedule?
The first Pilot channel will be available on September 12, 2017, the same day as that month’s Patch Tuesday. The first Broad channel will be available four months later on January 9, 2018, also on a Patch Tuesday.
The second release will bring a new Pilot on March 13, 2018 and a new Broad on July 10, 2018.
Can you skip a ProPlus features upgrade?
While you can in fact choose only to upgrade once a year, you will eventually have to conduct a second upgrade to get the most up-to-date support. Microsoft is giving you two months of overlap in the next update to do this.
So, say your firm deploys the Broad channel in January 2018, but skips the July 2018 upgrade, you would have to upgrade within the two-month span between January 2019 and March 2019 to be eligible for the latest support.
What happened to the ProPlus upgrade for June 2017?
Microsoft released new Deferred Channel and First Release for Deferred Channel upgrades on June 13, 2017. You will have three months to conduct enterprise pilots and validate applications with this upgrade before the final Deferred Channel release on September 12, 2017. The last Deferred Channel will be supported until July 10, 2018.
Changes to the support life cycle of Office 365 ProPlus will ultimately save you time and reduce the hassles of conducting upgrades. That said, it might take some time getting used to the new schedule and nomenclature, so if you have any questions about Office 365 or the new schedule, just give us a call.