The huge advantage of Microsoft Office 365 is that subscribers can receive new product updates and features as they become available via the Cloud. This ensures they are always using the most up to date tools, and also eliminates the need for costly software version updates that you would require with standalone software applications.

First Release and Standard Release

Office 365 subscribers (with admin rights) can choose how the business receives these updates. There are two options to select;

  1. First Release – Your business can sign up for an early release to ensure all users within the business receive updates as soon as they are released. You can also specify that only certain individuals receive the updates.
  2. Standard Release – Your business can select to receive the updates at a later date after their release. This video explains the different release options and how you can use them for your business.

More about the Office 365 updates

All Office 365 updates are thoroughly tested and evaluated for performance and scalability before they are released to the public. For more significant updates, Office 365 subscribers are initially notified by the Office 365 public roadmap, which indicates a timeline. As an update gets closer to rolling out, it is communicated through your Office 365 Message Centre which all admin users have access to.

The update is then applied to users who have selected First Release. Once it is determined that the feature is ready for broader release, it’s applied to everyone else, including users who have selected Standard Release.

Set up the First Release option in the Office 365 admin centre

  1. Sign in to Office 365 with your work or school account.
  2. Go to the Office 365 admin center.
  3. Navigate to Settings > Organisation profile.
  4. Next to Release preferences, click Edit.
  5. To disable First Release, choose Standard Release, then click Next, and say Yes to the confirmation. Skip to step 9.
  6. To enable First Release for all users in your organisation, choose First Release for everyone, then click Next, and say Yes to the confirmation. Skip to step 9.
  7. To enable First Release for some people in your organisation, choose First Release for selected users, then click Next, and say Yes to the confirmation.
  8. Choose Add people to add users individually. Search for their names and click + to Add.
  9. When you’re done adding users, click Save and then Close.

Selecting bulk users

  1. Next to Release preferences, click Actions > + Bulk add people for First Release under the Standard Release heading.
  2. Click Browse to select a file containing each person’s email address. (This is similar to how you bulk add users in the admin center)
  3. Click Next and then Close.

For more information about the Office 365 subscription types, monthly costs, or to upgrade your current Office 365 subscription please get in touch.

Things to note: It can take up to 24 hours for the changes to take effect in Office 365. If you opt out of First Release after enabling it, your users may lose access to features that haven’t reached the scheduled standard release yet. The Office 365 updates described in this blog apply to Office 365, SharePoint Online, and Exchange Online. They do not apply to Skype for Business and related services.


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