Microsoft Aligns Windows and Office 365 Development Schedules

Posted on April 20, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Office 365, Office, Windows, Windows 10 with 15 Comments

Microsoft Aligns Windows and Office 365 Development Schedules

In a move that should please its enterprise customers, Microsoft revealed today that it will align the development schedules of its core business products, Windows and Office 365.

“We’ve also heard our customers want more predictability and simplicity from this update servicing model to help make deployments and updates of Microsoft products easier,” Microsoft General Manager Bernardo Caldas explains in a new post to the Windows for Business blog. “Based on this feedback, I am excited to share today that we are aligning the servicing models for Windows 10, Office 365 ProPlus and System Center Configuration Manager for our customers, particularly those with Secure Productive Enterprise.”

As part of this announcement, Microsoft is committing to a predictable twice-a-year feature release schedule for Windows, with releases expected in March and September. That latter date is much earlier than I had expected for the next Windows 10 version, codenamed “Redstone 3”; I was looking at November.

Each Windows 10 version will be supported for 18 months, Microsoft says.

“These changes reflect our commitment to help make it easier to deploy and service Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus,” Caldas writes. “The Windows, Office and E+MS teams will continue to seek more ways to make deployment easier, and we look forward to your continued feedback to help us with that process.”

Frankly, I think this is too aggressive: Microsoft should target one feature release of these products per year, in my opinion. That would be both predictable and less onerous from an enterprise perspective. But predictable is good, nonetheless, and this change will benefit all of us.

Now let’s see them hit these dates.


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Comments (15)

15 responses to “Microsoft Aligns Windows and Office 365 Development Schedules”

  1. MikeGalos

    Not a bad compromise. Any more frequent would get complaints about the cost of managing the changes, any less would get remarks about Microsoft thinking this is the '90s and not understanding the Internet-based, Agile world.

    Odds are, though, this 2x per year will just end up getting both complaints.

  2. tboggs13

    I am good with Windows releasing two times a year, but Office 365 ProPlus might need more love, especially the Mac version which doesn't have feature parity with Windows. The biggest thing they need to do is make the upgrades rock solid. I am currently fighting with upgrades to SCCM and that is the platform that deploys the other two.

  3. agizmo

    From working on imaging/software releases, I don't mind the rapid schedule. I can put controls in place to slow them down. My problem is licensing. Office perpetual (traditional MSI) can be licensed by machine, but Office 365 ProPlus is only licensed by user. Most places won't have a problem, but in my university environment we have computer labs and there are many situations where we have non faculty/staff/students using Office. With no license they only have the ability to read Office documents, not create any.

  4. will

    I agree with Paul, 1 update a year for Windows would be a better system. Being in IT I now will be spending my time learning what is new/changing with the next release as well as supporting the current release deployment, all within 6 months!

    What does not make since to me if the Office side of things. Right now they release updates for Office monthly so what would change with this?

    I would guess that the Office 2016 naming will be going away soon and just be called Office.

  5. Bart

    Twice per year is good IMHO. The March release should work nicely for the OEM's, as there will be enough time to release and market new hardware for Back-to-School season.

  6. skane2600

    I prefer releases to occur when there's something important to create, add, or update rather than based on the calendar or because another product needs updating. Look how MS released the underwhelming Edge browser to coincide with the release of Windows 10 rather than waiting for it to be competitive with other browsers from day 1 of its release.

  7. matsan

    With the slow roll out of CU they have been communicating - will the CU distribution be completed before RS3 is released? Why should users rush to CU?

  8. JerryH

    Interesting. I hope this time the alignment lasts longer. The last time Windows and Office agreed to align on something it was to call the various channels and branches "Current Branch", "Current Branch for Business", etc. Then Office decided after about 6 months of that to screw it and went their own way with "Current Channel", "Deferred Channel", etc.

    In regards to Will's question in the comments - by Office updates they meant feature updates. They are every 4 months right now for Deferred Channel. You are right that Insiders and Current Channel can get feature updates mostly at any time. But for business - most run Deferred Channel. And features currently promote from Current Channel into First Release for Deferred Channel and to Deferred Channel once every 4 months. This changes makes that once every 6 months. So it is "less" - but yeah, means nothing for home users.

    • will

      In reply to JerryH:

      That makes since for Office. I wounder if they will now just have bug fixes between major updates for Office. So only new features arrive 2x a year, everything between is then bug/security fixes.

      • JerryH

        In reply to will:

        It is worse than that. Bug fixes only get introduced when features come in to Deferred Channel. We already have to wait for four months for a bug fix - AFTER it gets published to Current Channel. So say we work with MS on an issue and after some triage, repro, working with the product team they agree to make a fix. About two months later you see it in Current Channel. Then four months after that WE get it in Deferred Channel. Now that will be six months later. The only thing you get in between are the security updates each month. The stability updates and bug fixes come in only when features promote to Deferred. We've already been having trouble with this with the 4 month wait. It will now be worse.

  9. RickEveleigh

    Interesting photo: London skyline, US format lock screen. I call photoshopped.

  10. helix2301

    I am glad they remember sccm that makes my life easier.

  11. Daniel D

    Maybe I am getting old, but the next change I would like in Windows 10 is nothing. Yes thats right, a stable operating system that just works and gets on with the job at hand, with the occasional security update and thats it.

    I don't need a redesign, or new features or whatever. Just leave it alone and put that considerable cost and effort into something more productive at Microsoft.

    Failing that, can we at least rename Windows 10 to "Windows Update Edition" as that is a more accurate description of what it is now. Thanks to its constant updating, its become the most irratating version of Windows I have used since I first installed Windows and that dates back to version 3.1


    Windows 10, Office 365 ProPlus and System Center Configuration Manager make twice-a-year feature release schedules more manageable and predictable for easier enterprise deployments

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