Team meets to have a discussion using various Office 365 applications

Office 365 Updates, Channel and Rings — Oh No!

27 Feb 2018 by Aubrey Marshall

While working with a client recently, it quickly became obvious that there was some confusion as to how certain Office 365 desktop clients update, namely ProPlus, OneDrive and Microsoft Teams. The client was working under the assumption that OneDrive and Teams clients update when ProPlus updates, which is not the case. Let's explore a brief overview of how these updates currently take place.

Microsoft Teams

Presently, no update management capabilities are available at the tenant level or with group policies. Also, there are no Windows scheduled tasks that launch updates for Teams, as is the case with OneDrive. The Microsoft Teams client is a Progressive Web App (PWA) — a browser-based application that looks and functions like a native desktop or mobile application. Since the Teams client is a PWA, it doesn't get updated until Teams Services get updated in the Office 365 tenant.

OneDrive

OneDrive updates, by default, are executed by a Windows scheduled task that's created at the time of client deployment. This scheduled task executes every hour indefinitely once it's triggered. Three update rings (yes, I said rings, not channels) are available: the Insiders Ring (i.e., beta tester), Production Ring and Enterprise Ring — aka "Second Wave.”

By default, all OneDrive clients install using the Production Ring, regardless of whether OneDrive is configured for personal or business use. A Production Ring release and its associated features are generally available globally.

The Enterprise Ring is available but must be configured via group policy. Enterprise rings are slower than Production Rings to release features. New features show up for enterprises 60 days after the Production Ring release.

Chart showing Production at 1-2 week rollout and Enterprise at a 60-day window

Office 365 ProPlus

Finally, Office 365 ProPlus is such a moving target that you never know what update channels are to be used. As of September 2017, there were three new update channels: Monthly, Semi-Annual (Targeted) and Semi-Annual.

These Semi-Annual channels are intended to mirror the Windows 10 Serving Release Channels. They're also intended for customers whose tenants are configured for Standard Release, not necessarily First Release.

The Monthly Channel is intended for those who wish to receive the latest features immediately when they become available. Monthly Channel also allows customers to perform any necessary testing of new features prior to general deployment. And the Monthly Channel feature release should (but doesn't necessarily) coincide with features release for Office 365 tenants configured for First Release.

Chart showing the Ofice 365 ProPlus Update Modal in monthly- semi annual cycles

As for Windows 10 Servicing Release Channels, I’m not going into detail these for now except to list them here for general reference. I’ll have more on Windows 10 and other updates in a future post.

Windows 10 Edition 
Semi-Annual Channel
(Targeted)
Semi-Annual Channel
Long-Term Servicing
Channel
Insider Program
Home Y N N Y
Pro Y Y N Y
Enterprise Y Y N Y
Enterprise LTSB N N Y N
Pro Education Y Y N Y
Education  Y Y N Y
Mobile  Y N N Y
Mobile Enterprise Y Y N Y
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About Aubrey Marshall
Business Productivity Consultant

Aubrey is a managing consultant in the business productivity practice of Insight's Charlotte office.

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