Office 365 Apps were rebranded as Microsoft 365 Apps a few months ago and new release channels were also made available. We have a full explanation of how to change between Microsoft 365 Apps Channels HERE but many people are confused now that there are six to choose from.
In this video we skim through the explanation of the 6 M365 channels below and demonstrate how to change the channel via command line on Windows 11:
Here is a simple explanation of each of the six Office 365 / Microsoft 365 Apps channels:
1: Beta Channel
Formerly the “Insider Fast”, updates come out about once a week.. This is actually not the very first ring, but it is the first one that people who don’t work at Microsoft can get. This channel is intended for app developers and IT Pro’s who enjoy beta testing and learning about new features that will come to market in the next few months. It is important to note that this channel is NOT supported by Microsoft as they say it should only be used in test environments. It is part of the “Office Insider for Business” Program. Click HERE for the latest release notes on this channel.
2: Current Channel (Preview)
Formerly known as the Monthly Channel (Targeted), this is a build of Office Apps that will be released to the general public next month. The idea is to release the next version to a lot more people than just beta testers to make sure the product is stable in all environments. You could call this Beta Lite. While, like all channels, this is open to anyone, it would be best used by superusers, trainers and IT Pros that need to understand what the next features are so they can test with their own apps and plugins. Click HERE for the latest release notes on this channel.
3: Current Channel
The current channel is the normal channel. If you have not forced your system to use a specific channel, this is the one you will get. It used to be called the Monthly Channel and, if all went well, will be identical to the CURRENT CHANNEL (PREVIEW) but released one month later. Most companies do NOT use this channel as they want to wait just a bit longer to make sure all the bugs are worked out. Click HERE for the latest release notes on this channel.
4: Monthly Enterprise Channel
The Monthly Enterprise Channel is the newest (added May 12th, 2020) and is slightly more aggressive than the Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel which is what most companies used to use. In the MEC, patches AND new features are released on patch Tuesday (the second Tuesday of each month). This is almost the same as the Current Channel, but there are some minor differences like this version is supported for two months and only comes out on Patch Tuesday, where as the Current Channel is supported for only one month and could be released on any day of the month. Click HERE for the latest release notes on this channel.
5: Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel (Preview)
Formerly named the Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted) release, this build of Office 365 / Microsoft 365 apps just the early release of the the Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel. It is updated only twice a year but released a month or two before Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel. Click HERE for the latest release notes on this channel.
6: Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel
This is the slowest and most bug free version of Microsoft 365 / Office 365 Apps like Outlook, Word and Excel. It used to be called the “Broad” or “Deferred” channel. Patches and minor updates are released on patch Tuesday every month but new features released only in January and July. This build is supported for 14 months, which gives companies to push safely push out an upgrade only once per year. For instance, I often set my clients to get the Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel in August. In that way, there tools are being disrupted just once per year, during the staffs slow times. Click HERE for the latest release notes on this channel.