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Microsoft announces new Update Channels

Microsoft recently announced changes to the update channels for Office 365 Apps on Windows. A new update channel has been introduced and previous channels have been renamed.

What are Microsoft 365 Apps?

Microsoft 365 Apps is the locally installed version of Office that’s available through many Office 365 plans and includes all of the Office apps. Microsoft 365 Apps is updated regularly. These updates occur at a different pace depending on the update channel you select.

What are update channels?

Update Channels allow users to choose how they want to receive updates to Microsoft Office. Selecting a more active schedule of releases like Current Channel (Preview) gives users the newest updates as they come available. However, those updates may not be fully tested and may not remain in the program for the long term. The Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel gives users the fewest updates after the longest schedule of testing,

Update channels are essentially different versions of Office 365 Apps. Most students will likely have the Current Channel installed by default. However, because SIMnet follows the Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel for releasing new features, this could cause a discrepancy between what a student sees on their own version of Office 365 and what they see in SIMnet. We advise that you avoid any channels named “Preview” as they may contain features that are not supported in Projects.

Update channels are specific to the device being used and is set when Office 365 Apps is installed. For example, lab computers may be set to run on a different channel than a student’s personal computer. Each Office 365 subscription is subscribed to a default update channel but can be changed. Refer to Microsoft for more information.

New Name Previous NameRelease Schedule
Current Channel (Preview)Monthly Channel (Targeted)No set schedule, updates released as they are available
Current ChannelMonthly ChannelNo set schedule, updates released as they are available
Monthly Enterprise Channel (Preview)NONEOnce a month, second Tuesday of the month
Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel (Preview)Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted)Second Tuesday in March and September
Semi-Annual Enterprise ChannelSemi-Annual ChannelSecond Tuesday in January and July

How does this affect SIMnet?

In SIMnet, the simulation interactivities such as Exam Questions, Show Me, Guide Me, and Let Me Try exercises are updated following the Semi-Annual Enterprise channel releases in January and July.
For projects, alternate instructions are added for changes that appear in the current channel but have not yet been released in the Semi-Annual Enterprise channel.

How do I know which version of Microsoft 365 Apps I have?

If you are unsure which version of Office you have, open any Office file (or create a new blank file). Click the File tab to open Backstage view. Click Account or Help from the list at the left of the screen. Your
Office installation information will be listed on the next screen. Click the Update Options button to show the available options and select the right choice.

For more information about reviewing your Microsoft Office version, view our help topic

Mac Update Channels

Mac users have fewer update channels but they follow the same basic structure as Windows users.

Channel NameChannel Info
ProductionInfrequent, fully tested updates
Insider SlowMonthly updates with fully supported features
Insider FastFrequent updates that are not fully supported

To view your Mac Update Channel, open an application, like Word. Click Help in the top menu. Select Check for Updates and click the Advanced button. Select your channel from the Update Channel drop-down menu.