FAQ: How Microsoft plans to upgrade Office 365

Changes tempo and support lifecycle of Office 365 ProPlus to sync with Windows 10

Office 365 software boxes
Martyn Williams/IDG

Six weeks ago, Microsoft decreed that Windows 10 would be refreshed twice a year, in September and March, to make its release schedule more predictable, and thus, more tolerable to enterprises.

Almost unnoticed was that the Redmond, Wash., company announced a virtually identical scheme for corporate subscribers to Office 365. Office 365 ProPlus -- the application suite provided to customers under plans like the $20-per-user-per-month Enterprise E3 and the $35-per-user-per-month Enterprise E5 -- would be upgraded every six months, just like Windows 10.

Calling it an "alignment with Windows 10," Microsoft outlined how it plans to deliver and support ProPlus, starting in September. We've distilled Microsoft's description to the most important questions and, of course, answers.

What's the new schedule for Office updates? March and September, annually, like Windows 10.

Rather than issue Office feature updates three times a year -- in February, June and October -- the cadence since Office 2016's launch in the fall of 2015 -- Microsoft is slowing the tempo to twice yearly.

Why? Has Microsoft said? One word: "feedback."

That's almost always Microsoft's rationale for change of any kind, and it holds true here. "[Customers have] also asked us to simplify the update process -- and to improve the coordination between Office and Windows," wrote Ron Markezich, a Microsoft marketing executive, in a post to a company blog.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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