The first Office 365 Deferred Channel build (previously known as Current Branch for Business) is now available for Microsoft Office 365 for Windows (including Office 365 ProPlus, Office 365 Business, Project Pro for Office 365 and Visio Pro for Office 365). The Deferred Channel allows organizations to choose an update schedule that reduces the frequency of feature changes for the Windows desktop apps, enabling IT admins and developers to have more time between releases to validate Office against their line-of-business applications, add-ins and macros. For information on the updates available in the Deferred Channel build, visit the Office 365 client release notes.
Starting today, you can download the Deferred Channel build directly from the Office CDN, and on Feb 23, 2016, the build will be available in the Office 365 User Software Page. For information on how to download the Deferred Channel build from the CDN, visit our Office 365 ProPlus TechNet site.
Current Branch for Business is now Deferred Channel
Back in September 2015, we introduced the new Office 2016 update model. Since then, customers have expressed appreciation for the ability to have greater control over the frequency of feature changes and have more time for validation. Today, we are further refining that update model and—based on feedback—are renaming service “Branches” to “Channels.”
Customers who want to receive monthly feature and security updates can do so through the “Current Channel” (previously known as Current Branch). Customers who want to limit feature changes to every four months can choose the “Deferred Channel” (previously known as Current Branch for Business). Early access to a fully supported build for both channels will be available through the “First Release for Current Channel” and “First Release for Deferred Channel,” respectively. While this naming change may seem small, we believe it will make a big difference in helping customers understand the purpose and cadence of the different delivery vehicles.
Enhanced admin settings for User Software Page
Starting today, IT admins also have the ability to further customize the User Software page. Admins now have the option to select the Office version and update channel (for 2016 apps only) a user can see and download directly from the Office 365 User Software Page. The changes IT admins make on the Admin Center will go into effect on February 23, 2016, giving admins the opportunity to change the default update channel and decide which install links to expose to their users.
Download and deploy the Deferred Channel build today
We invite you all to download and start using the Deferred Channel builds within your organization and see for yourself how Office 2016 has helped millions of users become more productive than ever.
In addition to this very first Deferred Channel build, we’re also pleased to announce that we will release the next First Release for Deferred Channel build in the next few weeks. This will be a fully supported production quality build for testing, with a targeted release date as a standard build in the Deferred Channel in June 2016. We encourage you to validate this build against your environment, applications, add-ins and macros.
We recognize that deploying and validating Office updates has sometimes been time consuming for IT admins. We believe the enhancements we have made since the launch of Office 2016 will help reduce the overall validation process, making it quicker to get these builds into your users’ hands. We are not done yet; we are continuing to invest more in our deployment tools in order to further assist IT admins and developers to validate Office against their environment and line-of-business applications.
We hope you are as excited as we are about today’s announcement. We encourage you to download and install the latest Deferred Channel build and start validating the next First Release for Deferred Channel in the coming weeks.
—Amesh Mansukhani, senior program manager for the Office team