How to set up the release preferences in Microsoft 365?

How to set up the release preferences in Microsoft 365?

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In this article, we will learn about how to set up the standard or targeted release preferences in Microsoft 365 or various release preferences available in the Microsoft 365 organization profile setting, meaning that many times we have noticed that some of the features from the Microsoft 365 roadmap already have been released but it is not available in our tenant. In this article, we will see how does the newly released feature gets deploy across the tenant globally.

Key-Highlights:

  • How does the release validation work in the Microsoft 365 roadmap release?
  • What is the standard release?
  • What is the targeted release?
  • What is the targeted release for selected users?
  • What are the advantages of targeted release?
  • How to set up the release option in the Microsoft 365 admin center?
  • How to enable “Targeted Release” in Office 365 to receive updates?

How does the release validation work in the Microsoft 365 roadmap release?

Basically, there are three types of release in Microsoft 365:

  • Standard Release
  • Targeted Release and
  • Targeted release for entire organization
  • Targeted release for selected users

Before getting into the various releases let’s understand the Microsoft 365 product release ring – how does it work?

Any new release is first tested and validated by the feature team, then by the entire Microsoft 365 feature team, followed by all of Microsoft. After internal testing and validation, the next step is a Targeted release (formerly known as First release) to customers who opt-in. At each release ring, Microsoft collects feedback and further validates quality by monitoring key usage metrics. This series of progressive validation is in place to make sure the worldwide-release is as robust as possible. The releases are pictured in the following figure.

Microsoft 365 product release rings
Microsoft 365 product release rings – Image Source: MSDN

Notes:

  • For each new product, customers are initially notified by the Microsoft 365 Roadmap update.
  • As an update gets closer to rolling out, it is communicated through your Microsoft 365 Message center.
  • You need a Microsoft 365 or Azure AD account to access your Message center through the admin center. Microsoft 365 home plan users do not have an admin center.

Now, let’s understand the various releases.

What is the standard release?

This is the default option where you and your users receive the latest updates when they’re released broadly to all customers.

A good practice is to leave the majority of users in Standard release and IT Pros and power users in Targeted release to evaluate new features and prepare teams to support business users and executives.

Note:

  • If you switch from targeted release back to standard release track, your users may lose access to features that haven’t reached standard release yet.

What is the targeted release?

With this option, you and your users can be the first to see the latest updates and help shape the product by providing early feedback. In this option, we can have individual users or the entire organization, based on the configuration – the users will be notified accordingly about the update.

Note:

  • Large or complex updates may take longer than others so that no users are adversely affected. There is no guarantee on the exact timeline of a release.

What is the targeted release for an entire organization?

If you set up the release option in the admin center for this option, all your users will get the Targeted release experience. For organizations with more than 300 users, we recommend using a test subscription for this option.

What is the targeted release for selected users?

If you set up the release option in the admin center for this option, you can define specific users, usually, power users, to receive early access to features and functionality.

What are the advantages of targeted release?

Targeted release allows admins, change managers, or anyone else responsible for Microsoft 365 updates to prepare for the upcoming changes by letting them:

  • Test and validate new updates before they are released to all the users in the organization.
  • Prepare user notification and documentation before updates are released worldwide.
  • Prepare internal help-desk for upcoming changes.
  • Go through compliance and security reviews.
  • Use feature controls, where applicable, to control the release of updates to end-users.

By now, we have learned about the various release option and their purposes theoretically, now – we need to learn how to set up the release option in the Microsoft 365 admin center practically.

How to set up the release option in the Microsoft 365 admin center?

Log in to the Microsoft 365 admin portal by using this link – https://portal.office.com/adminportal/home#/Settings/OrganizationProfile/:/Settings/L1/ReleasePreferences

Then click on the “Settings” link from the left side panel.

Click on the “Org settings”.

Click on the “Organization profile” tab link, then click on the “Release preferences” link as shown below:

Choose how your organization gets new features and service updates from ‎Office 365
Choose how your organization gets new features and service updates from ‎Office 365

Then, we will get the “Release preferences” settings.

Release Preferences settings in Microsoft 365
Release Preferences settings in Microsoft 365

As described above, we will get the below settings as release preferences:

  • Standard release for everyone – where your entire organization gets updates when we release them broadly. This is a default setting.
  • Targeted release for everyone – where your entire organization gets updates early.
  • Targeted release for select users – where we have the option to pick people to receive updates early to preview them before they’re released to everyone else.

Note:

  • As the best practices, we can select “Targeted release for select users” as the preference and assign few users to it, so that they will get an early update about the new products when they are released where they can experiment with the product internally and provide feedback to Microsoft if they need.

Lets, see what we get when we select “targeted release for select users” release preference.

Release Preferences settings for targeted release for select users in Microsoft 365
Release preferences settings for targeted release for select users in Microsoft 365

As we can see here, we can select users for this target release as well as we can upload bulk users for the same purpose.

For example, we have selected the “Global SharePoint Diary” user – so, here this user will get an early update about the new release product than the other users in the tenant.

Summary:

Thus in this article, we have learned the below with respect to various release preference option in Microsoft 365:

  • How does the release validation work in the Microsoft 365 roadmap release?
  • What is the standard release?
  • What is the targeted release?
  • What is the targeted release for selected users?
  • What are the advantages of targeted release?
  • How to set up the release option in the Microsoft 365 admin center?
  • How to enable “Targeted Release” in Office 365 to receive updates?

 

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