Office 365 tenant admins should be aware of a terminology change in Office 365 that is being released this month.

With the Office 365 cloud, you automatically receive new product and feature updates as they become available instead of manually choosing to roll them out.  This is one of the benefits of being on the constantly evolving Microsoft Office 365 cloud where you always have access to the latest and greatest in modern cloud productivity technologies.  With Office 365, you have the ability to manage how your organization can receive these updates.  There are two types of releases a tenant admin has to select from:

  1. Standard Release – Default setting in Office 365 where your organization will receive the latest Office 365 updates when Microsoft broadly releases it to all Office 365 customers
  2. First Release (now renamed to Targeted Release) – Allows a tenant administrator to allow individual users or the entire organization to see the latest Office 365 updates as soon as they are available at some time before the standard release is given to the general public.  This in turn can help shape the product by allow you to provide early feedback to Microsoft and allow your organization to be prepared for the upcoming change.  This must be manually specified in the Office 365 administration portal.

Microsoft has also published their release rings framework where by they have renamed First Release to Targeted Release and given more information on their release process.

Step 1 – Feature Team Release:  All new features and services are first tested and validated by the feature team themselves (whom I assume are the folks in Microsoft internal who developed the feature)

Step 2 – Office 365 Team Release:  They are then tested and validated by the broader Microsoft Office 365 product team

Step 3 – Microsoft Release:  A full rollout to the entire Microsoft organization entails for a larger audience to internally validate and test

Step 4 – Targeted Release (formerly First Release):  Available to all Office 365 customers who opt-in

Step 5 – Standard Release:  When the features and services are automatically released broadly to all Office 365 customers


Read more about Standard or Targeted release options in Office 365.

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