Set your release preferences and manage updates in Office 365

One of the benefits of moving to Office 365 is the rolling updates. No longer will you need to prepare your company and colleagues for a mass upgrade, and co-ordinate to have all the company’s computers upgraded at once. Office 365 removes this stress by introducing rolling updates, and deploying new changes when they are ready to be released. This does mean rather than one big change, there is a series of little changes. Some won’t be noticed by users, some will be welcomed and unfortunately, some will still cause stress as things move around.

There are, of course, some ways to prepare and manage new features.

What are the release preferences?

Major changes are communicated 30 days before they are deployed via the service centre in the admin portal. You should be keeping an eye on the service centre messages (You can also get updates on the go with the Microsoft 365 Admin app). This is your trigger to start getting ready!

There are two options when it comes to new releases:
• Standard: receives updates as they are rolled out for general release by Microsoft
• Targeted (formally First release): receives the updates first, and are able to provide feedback to help shape the product

Your targeted release group can road-test the new release features, and help shape any communications or documentation for the wider business. It’s also a great chance to give your IT helpdesk team a heads up on the changes and put the new release through any internal compliance and security reviews. If you have members of your targeted release group outside of IT they may find some features which are particularly helpful in their role or for their function!

How do I set release preferences?

The release preferences are managed in the admin centre, but you will need to be a global administrator to make any changes.


1. In the admin centre, select Settings from the left side navigation to expand the menu options

2. Select Org Settings

3. Select the Organization profile tab

4. From the options shown, select release preferences.

a. There are three options under release preferences:

i. Standard release for everyone (this is the default)
ii. Targeted release for everyone
iii. Targeted release for select users. Users can be selected one at a time, or can be uploaded in bulk using the provided notepad template.

Just remember changes in the 365 admin portal can take up to 24 hours to be reflected.

So there you have it – how to set your release preferences. It’s a great way to road test features before they hit the wider company and make sure they are properly road tested before all your colleagues are using them.