Modernizing the way we update Dynamics 365

To enable businesses everywhere to accelerate their digital transformation, we are continuously enhancing Dynamics 365 with new capabilities. As we add product enhancements and performance improvements at a rapid pace, today we are announcing a set of changes in optimizing the way we deliver Dynamics 365 updates that will help you stay current in a consistent, predictable, and seamless manner.

Our new update cadence aims to lower upgrade costs, provide all users access to the latest capabilities, performance improvements and offer a better support experience.

Predictable updates with continuous deployment

We are transforming how we do service updates for Dynamics 365 (online). We will deliver two major releases per year – April and October – offering new capabilities and functionality. These updates will be backward compatible so your apps and customizations will continue to work post update. New features with major, disruptive changes to the user experience are off by default. This means administrators will be able to first test before enabling these features for their organization.

In addition to the two major updates, we will continue to deploy regular performance and reliability improvement updates throughout the year. We are phasing deployments over several weeks following safe deployment practices and monitoring updates closely for any issues.

Early visibility of upcoming changes

We are working to provide early visibility and help you get ready for the new updates. Starting with our April 2018 update, we publish release notes, which provide a summary of all the new features and improvements and information on when they are planned to be available.

Release notes will be published months prior to each major update to help you plan for the new capabilities. The release notes for the October 2018 update will be published on July 23 during the Business Applications Summit.

Test new capabilities ahead of time

We have enabled our customers and partners to test the latest capabilities which are part of the updates early in the cycle. You can get access to Dynamics 365 updates before they are deployed in your production environment. Our ISV partners can take advantage of this to innovate early to be better prepared for general availability.

Starting with the April 2019 update, you can validate major updates in a sandbox environment in advance of the update release. This will help you assess productivity and efficiency gains of the new capabilities, as well as train your end users about new capabilities. We will publish the timeline of when to expect updates in sandbox environments in advance.

Should you face any issues while testing the update, we will endeavor to work closely to support you and resolve issues in a timely manner to ensure business continuity for your organization.

One version, with all users on the latest available version

Since every customer will be updated on the continuous delivery schedule, your organization needs to update to the latest version if you are running an older version of Dynamics 365. Please review the updated support policies for Dynamics 365 customer engagement applications (Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, PSA, Marketing) and Finance and Operations.

For customers who are currently running older versions of Dynamics 365, we will continue to provide you with the ability to schedule an update to the latest version and want to make sure this effort is as seamless as possible through continuous improvements in our update engine. We will send reminders to schedule the update to Dynamics 365 administrators.

For Dynamics 365 (online) customer engagement applications, we sent update communications in May to all customers running v8.1 and have scheduled updates. Customers running v8.2 should plan to update to the latest version by January 31, 2019.

For Dynamics 365 for Finance & Operations (online), all customers running v7.0, v7.1, v7.2, and v8.0 should update to the latest version by March 31, 2019. The only exception to being on the latest version is for customers with unfulfilled extension requests by Microsoft.  For these customers, support for v7.3 will be available until April 30, 2020.

We will continue to fully support older versions of Dynamics 365 applications until the timeframes mentioned above. Post those dates, we will only support the latest generally available version.

Dynamics 365 Business Central and Dynamics 365 for Talent currently deliver updates and releases through a continuous update cycle, so there is no change for customers of those services.

An improved Dynamics 365 experience

We are confident that the new service update process will benefit everyone in your organization, with improved performance and stability across Dynamics 365 applications, providing users access to new features faster, and offering administrators smoother and more predictable upgrades. The new process will also allow better interaction to share ideas and collaborate with the greater community since everyone will be on the same version. Stay tuned for more details as we prepare for the October 2018 update which will include many new innovations.

Additional resources and details