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Real World Questions, Real World Answers
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Why am I not getting the latest updates for Office/Outlook 2016?

I sometimes see announcements about new features being added or fixes being made to Office 2016. However, I don’t seem to get them.

When I compared my build number of Outlook 2016 to the one of a friend, I saw that his was newer. I chose File-> Update Options-> Update Now and I got the message “You’re up to date!”

How can I force Outlook to install the latest updates?

Update Now buttonOffice 2016 has multiple update channels. Based on which channel you are in, you’ll get certain updates sooner or later than others.

Depending on your subscription and installation type you can control which channel you are in.

Available Office Update Channels

The following Office Update Channels, newest to oldest, are available.

Channel Available to Update level compared to main release
Office Insider Fast Office 365 for Home, Personal and University subscriptions – 4 – 6 weeks
Office Insider Slow Office 365 for Home, Personal and University subscriptions – 2 – 4 weeks
First Release for Current Channel Office 365 for Business subscriptions – 2 – 4 weeks
Current Channel All Office 365 subscriptions 0 months
First Release for Deferred Channel Office 365 for Business with ProPlus + 1 – 4 months
Deferred Channel Office 365 for Business with ProPlus + 4 – 8 months
One-time purchase installation One-time purchase installations of
Office Home & Student 2016, Office Home & Business 2016, Office Professional 2016
Undefined
MSI-based installation Volume License installations of Office Standard 2016, Office Professional Plus 2016 Undefined

Which Channel am I in?

You can see which Channel you are in by going to; File-> Office Account

Below the Update Options section on the right, you’ll see your Channel name above the version number. If nothing is specified, you are in the Current Channel.

If you don’t have this section at all, you are using an MSI-based installation.

Office Updates - Channel name and version number

Current Channel

Office 365 buttonThe Current Channel is the official up-to-date stable release of Office 365. This is where you want to be as someone that just wants to use the latest version of the Office software.

Updates are released once a month and can contain new features that have been publicly tested by the Office Insiders and people in the First Release for Current Channel.

Office Insider Slow/Fast and First Release for Current Channel

Offiec 365 - Office Insider buttonThe Office Insider and First Release for Current Channel provides you early access to changes and new features that will most likely make it into the Current Channel release in about 1 or 2 months time.

There is an Office Insider Slow and an Office Insider Fast channel where the Slow channel is the more stable channel and gets about 2 releases per month. The Fast channel is a bit more experimental and thus less stable and gets about 4 releases per month. The First Release for Current Channel gets the same update as Office Insider Slow.

Office Insider builds are not as experimental as the Fast Ring Windows Insider builds. The Office Insider Slow channel can be best compared with the Release Preview Ring and for Office Insider Fast the Windows Insider Slow Ring is a closer match.

Either way, they can definitely be more buggy than the Current Channel build. They also can contain changes and new features that haven’t been publicly documented yet or are changed again before the build is becoming the Current Channel build.

So if you don’t want to waste your time with these kind of surprises, it is best to remain in the Current Channel.

First Release for Deferred Channel

Office 365 - First Release for Defered Channel buttonThe First Release for Deferred Channel contains the new features and fixes that will ultimately be added to the Deferred Channel.

Once a Deferred Channel release has been made available, the First Release for Deferred Channel will be set to the then Current Channel until another Deferred Channel release is made available. Therefor, this release can be up to 4 months behind the Current Release. Updates for this channel are being released once a month.

This build is recommended to be assigned to a select amount of people within a corporation that has decided to use the Deferred Channel.

Deferred Channel

Office 365 - Defered Channel buttonThe Deferred Channel will only receive 3 updates per year and will receive the updates with a delay as well.

Before an update is released to the Deferred Channel, it is being held in the Fist Release for Deferred Channel for 4 months. This means that the Deferred Channel can be 4 to 8 months behind the Current Channel.

This Channel is only recommended for environments that can’t receive updates and feature changes all the time. One can consider this to be the equivalent of Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB.

Detailed information about the Deferred Channel can be found in the TechNet article: Overview of update branches for Office 365 ProPlus.

One-time purchase installation

Office One-Time Purchase buttonOne-time purchase installations are non-subscription based editions of Office 2016 suites. These include Office Home & Student 2016, Office Home & Business 2016 and Office Professional 2016 as well as the standalone applications of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Publisher and Access.

Updates are being released monthly via the same way as Office 365 installations (so not via Windows Update) but these usually only contain fixes and not new features that are being made to Office 2016 users that are using it as part of an Office 365 subscription. So feature wise, it will remain pretty much the same as when Office 2016 was first released.

MSI-based installation

Office Volume License buttonMSI-based installations are “traditional” Office installations that are only available to Volume License subscribers. These installations aren’t updated via Office 365 but via Windows Update.

Updates are being released monthly but these usually only contain fixes or changes that have been reported or requested by Volume License customers. Feature wise, it is even more behind than the Deferred Channel, especially when compared to features that depend on Office 365.

Security Updates

Office Security Updates buttonFor all channels, any security updates will be released once a month. For the Deferred Channel, these updates will not be combined with any additional changes or features unless required by the security update.

Switching between Release Channels: Office 365 Home and Personal

Office 365 for Home buttonWhen you are an Office 365 Home or Personal subscriber of Office 2016, you can switch between the Insider or Current Channel release by downloading the Setup Installer via the advanced section of the Office 365 Software portal.

Instead of using the direct link mentioned above, you can also find it in the following way;

  1. Go to Office.com and click on “Sign in” in the top right corner to logon or if you aren’t logged in yet.
  2. Click on the “Install software” button in the top-right corner.
  3. Click on the “Language and install options” link left from the Install button.
  4. Below the “Language and install options” section, click on: Additional install options.
  5. In the “Other versions of Office” section, click on the Version drop down list to select which version of Office you want to download.
  6. Click on the “Install” button and run the downloaded installer.

Office 365 Home and Personal - Other versions of Office

Note: You don’t have to uninstall your current Office 365 for Home or Personal installation first. The installer will automatically upgrade or downgrade your Office 365 installation.

After installing the Office Insider version, you can switch between the Insider Slow and Insider Fast channel in Outlook by choosing;

  • File-> Office Account-> Office Insider-> Change Level

Join Office Insider - Change Office Insider level

Switching between Release Channels: Office 365 for Business and University

Office 365 for Business buttonWhen you are an Office 365 for Business or University user, the Channel that you are in is being determined by your Office 365 Administrator.

Aside from within the Office Account section of any Office application itself, you can also see which Channel has been made available to you by going to your Office 365 for Business or University Software portal.

  1. Logon to Outlook on the Web (OWA).
  2. Click on the “Office 365” text in the left top corner.
  3. Click on “Other installs” below the “Install now” button.

Office 365 ProPlus First Release
If your Administrator has placed you in the First Release for Current Channel group (Office Insider), then you’ll see the above notification on your download page.

Administrators can select who will be in the First Release Channel by going to; Service Settings-> Updates

The Office 365 for Business Admin Center allows administrators to select who will receive early “Office Insider” builds via the First Release Channel.
The Office 365 for Business Admin Center allows administrators to select who will receive early “Office Insider” builds via the First Release Channel.

When you are using the new Office 365 Admin Center, then you’ll find this options by going to; Settings-> Organization Profile-> Release preferences: Edit.

Office 365 Admin Center - Settings - Apps - Organization Profile - Release preferences
Enabling “Office Insider” builds in the new Office 365 Business Admin Center.

Office 365 Administrators for tenants that have licenses that include Office 365 ProPlus can select whether to use the Current Channel or the Deferred Channel in the Office 365 Admin Center by going to; Service Settings-> User software.

Office 365 Admin Center - Service Settings- User Software Settings
The Office 365 for Business Admin Center allows administrators to select whether to be in the Current Channel or the Deferred Channel.

When you are using the new Office 365 Admin Center, then you’ll find this options by going to; Settings-> Apps-> Software download settings

Office 365 Admin Center - Settings - Apps - Software Download Settings
Choosing between the Current Channel or Deferred Channel in the new Office 365 for Business Admin Center.

Office 365 for Business: Software Deployment and Group Policy

Group Policy Editor buttonAll these software deployment settings can also be controlled via customized installers and/or Group Policy settings;

Computer Configuration-> Administrative Templates-> Microsoft Office 2016 (Machine)-> Updates-> Update Branch

Valid values are:

  • Current
    To use the Current Channel.
  • Business
    To use the Deferred Channel.
  • Validation
    To use the First Release for Deferred Channel.
  • FirstReleaseCurrent
    To use the Office Insider Slow or First Release for Current Channel.
  • InsiderFast
    To use the Office Insider Fast channel.

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