Major Updates of Business Central Online

This article provides an overview of what you need to know about how a major Business Central update rolls out. It includes key dates, actions you need take, and answers some common questions.

Timelines for major updates

The following figure illustrates the key milestones and dates for rolling out a major update. The timeline and dates are loosely based on 2020 release wave 1. The same timeline applies to all other major updates, though dates will differ.

Update Rollout Timeline

The following table describes the milestones with example dates.

Milestone Example date Description
Update is available April 1, 2020 The date when the new major version of Business Central becomes generally available
Update starts rolling out April 8, 2020 The default date when Microsoft starts upgrading your environments. Once the update is scheduled, you can change that date, within allowed date range, to a date, which fits you better.
Last scheduled update date May 30, 2020 The last date you can choose to extend your upgrade date to, typically 30 days after the update is available but extended to 60 days for 2020 release wave 1.

Important

As announced in the blog post, Microsoft is making some changes to the update schedules in April in response to COVID-19. The 2020 release wave 1, April updates will be generally available as mentioned in the Dynamics 365 and Power Platform release plans. However, we are making some changes to the release schedule. Specifically for Business Central, existing customers have 60 days to upgrade after the new version is generally available. For a general overview, see Dynamics 365 release schedule and early access. For more information about the steps that you must take, see Managing Major and Minor Updates of Business Central Online.

Dates and times differ significantly across countries and regions. Make sure that you have set up notifications in the Business Central administration center so that you're notified when the next major update is available.

Update is available

In the release plans, you can see when the next major update is generally available. Typically, the update is announced on the Dynamics 365 blog, and Microsoft starts rolling out the update to existing environments. On the same day, new customers signing up for a trial and all newly created environments (sandboxes and production) are directed to the new version.

The existing environments are scheduled to be updated to the new version gradually across the world. Microsoft strives to schedule all environments soon after the official release date, but for some environments, the update might not be available for a few weeks. In extreme cases, a given environment might be scheduled for update up to one month after the release date.

When the update becomes available for an environment, all notification recipients for that environment receive email notifications. A notification about the update availability is also shown in the Business Central administration center itself. Starting this day, you can set the date for when your environment should be updated via the Business Central administration center (schedule update). You can choose any date between that date and the date that is shown as the last available date for the update. The last available date can be between one and four weeks away. For more information, see Managing Major and Minor Updates of Business Central Online.

Behind the scenes

Starting from the official release date, Microsoft begins scheduling updates. Scheduling doesn't occur for all environments around the world simultaneously. During scheduling, Microsoft sets a default update date for each environment, typically 14 days in the future from the date when you received the notification. You can see this date in the environment details page in the Business Central administration center.

Important

If you don't change the default date, Microsoft updates the environment automatically any day between the scheduled update date and the date that is shown as the last possible update date in your e-mail notification. If you don't want your environment to be updated automatically, change the update date to the one that fits you better.

You can change the default date set by Microsoft at any point of time, including changing it to the current date. In some cases, Microsoft can suspend or postpone all updates beyond this last possible date. For more information about what happens in such cases, see Postponed updates.

When the scheduled update date arrives, the update runs automatically within the update window that you've specified for this environment. All users will be disconnected from this environment, and all sign-in attempts during the update will be blocked with the message Service is under maintenance. We strongly encourage that you set an update window for all production environments so that updates don't start during business hours. For more information, see Set the update window for each environment.

Note

When you select a current date for your update, but the update window defined for this environment has already passed, the update will start within that time window, but on the following day to the one you defined for your environment. For example, if you're changing the Scheduled update date to the current date at 6pm, and your update window is set to 1 AM - 7 AM, the update will not start immediately, but around 1 AM on the next day.

Environments fail to update for various reasons, such as per-tenant extension compatibility issues, AppSource app compatibility issues, or internal update issues. Any environment that fails to update will be automatically restored to the original application version. Within one hour, the environments are automatically rescheduled for new update attempts for seven days. If you consider the issue resolved and want to try the update again, change the date to an earlier date or the current date.

If Microsoft can't do the update on the selected date, you'll be notified by email that the environment is rescheduled to be updated seven days later. You can change that date in the Business Central administration center to any other allowed date, including the current date.

Delayed scheduling of updates

In some cases, even after the update is available in your area, you may still not be able to set the update date (schedule environment update). This condition can happen for one of the following reasons:

  • Your environment has not yet updated to the latest minor update of the previous version of Business Central. All environments must be updated to the last available minor update of the previous version of Business Central before they can be scheduled to be updated to the next major version. You can check the version information in the Troubleshooting section of the Help and Support page in Business Central as well as in the Version Management section in Business Central administration center. For more information, see Version numbers in Business Central.

    Microsoft is actively working on updating all environments to the latest minor update as soon as possible. In most cases, your environment will be scheduled for the major update soon, and you'll get a chance to change the date to the one that fits you better. In the unlikely situation that your environment is updated to the last minor update around or even after the last selectable update date, you'll still get a least seven days to schedule the update.

  • You have just created a new sandbox environment as a copy of your production environment. In this case, the sandbox environment is created on the same version as the production environment it was copied from. If your newly created sandbox environment is running on the last minor update of the previous version, Microsoft will schedule it for update automatically within one hour.

    You'll receive email notification and will see the notification in Business Central administration centerwhen it happens. The scheduled update date for this environment will be set to seven days from the current date, so that you have enough time to change the date to one that fits you better (including the current date).

  • Your per-tenant extensions are not compatible with the next major update.

    Before rolling out the next major update, as well as during the update, Microsoft routinely checks per-tenant extensions in all existing environments for compatibility with the next major update. When compatibility issues with the upcoming version are detected, email notifications that describe the detected issues are sent to the notification recipients.

    If you discover any such issues, apply the changes to your solution as usual using Visual Studio Code, and test the new app in a sandbox environment that runs on the new major version (either in preview or officially available). If tests complete successfully, upload the new app version into your production environment in the Extension Management page, setting the Deploy to field to Next major version. This way the compatible version of your app will be used when your environment is updated. For more information, see Deploying a Tenant Customization.

  • The AppSource apps that are installed in your environment are not yet available for the next major version of Business CentralBusiness Central. While the AppSource apps are normally kept up-to-date by the partners who own them, it can happen that a particular app needs more time to prepare for the next major update and is not yet available for it. In this situation, please contact the app owner to understand their availability plans.

Postponed updates

In critical circumstances, Microsoft can decide to postpone the rollout of the updates, such as if a critical issue is discovered in the new major version that is being rolled out. While Microsoft is working on addressing the issue, the updates will be postponed. You'll receive email notification about this, and you'll see the notification displayed in the Business Central administration center. The Version Management section for each environment will show the update rollout state as Postponed.

Not knowing the nature of the issue and the solution in advance, we can't predict when the updates will resume again. This means that neither the email nor the notification in Business Central administration center will contain the information about the expected resume date. Microsoft will be actively working on resuming updates as a matter of highest priority once the issue is addressed. You'll receive another email notification when updates have been resumed. The last available date will be prolonged by the number of days the update was postponed.

If it happens that you schedule the update of your environment on a date when the updates are postponed, your update will not be done. Microsoft will not send separate notification about this. You can reschedule the update to a later date, or you can wait until you have received the email notification that the updates have been resumed and schedule the update at that time. All environments that missed their scheduled update date will be rescheduled automatically to run the update within seven days from the date the updates were resumed, but you can change that date to any other allowed date, including the current date.

If you did not explicitly set a date for your environment update in the Business Central administration center, this environment will be picked up for updating automatically, shortly after the updates have been resumed. The update will of course still be executed within the specified update time window.

Prepare, test, and learn before the major update

You can prepare yourself, users, and any customizations by trying out the new version before your production environment is updated. You can do this in different ways as explained in the following sections.

Prepare for major updates by enabling select features earlier

Some new features can be enabled ahead of time on sandbox and production environments, giving you time to test and prepare for change. Most times, you can enable features weeks before preview environments for the major update are available.

When Microsoft releases features or feature design improvements as part of minor updates, some of these features are optional until the following major update. Administrators can turn these optional features on or off from the Feature Management page.

For more information, see Feature Management.

Prepare for major updates with preview environments

About one month before a major update, you can try out new functionality in preview environments. Preview environments are essentially Business Central online sandbox environments that you create on a preview version of the application. When you create the new sandbox environment, choose the preview version marked as (Preview) from the version list. This way, you get a new sandbox environment with a preview version of the application.

You must have access to Microsoft Collaborate in order to submit your feedback and report any potential issues that you discover in the preview version of the application. For more information about getting access to Collaborate, see Register on Collaborate.

Note

Previews roll out gradually across the world, so if the option is not showing up for you today, please try again tomorrow.

The newly created preview sandbox environment contains demonstration company data. Trying the preview on a copy of your current production data is not yet supported; nor is testing the upgrade from your current version to the preview. However, you can use the newly created sandbox environment for exploring and learning the new product capabilities, as well as validating that your per-tenant extensions are still working as expected.

If you run your tests on a preview environment one month before the announced major release of Business Central, it is more likely that the coming updates of your production environments will go smoother. This way, you, your customers, and your code are better prepared for the official release.

We expect to update the preview version only if we discover critical issues before the major update is generally available for production environments. Apart from these potential fixes, we do not expect any further changes to the product between the preview and the official release. This means that you can start your testing and learning activities immediately, without waiting for the official release.

Note

You will be able to test the update on a copy of your production data in a sandbox environment when we release the new update in production in April or October, respectively. When the official release becomes available, you can continue your tests on that version. You will no longer be able to create new preview sandboxes.

Important

The preview version as well as all sandbox environments that are based on it will be removed 30 days after the official release becomes available.

For more information, see Prepare for major updates with preview environments.

Prepare for major updates just before the production environment is updated

Starting on the date when you're notified that the new major update is available, you can test the new version by using a sandbox environment that you then schedule to be updated. Start by copying your production environment into a sandbox on the same version as your production environment. All newly created environments are automatically included in the update process within one hour, so you'll receive email notification that the update is available, and you'll be able to schedule the newly created sandbox for update within one hour after it was created. By default, the newly created environments are scheduled to run the update within seven days from the date they were created, but you can change that date to any other allowed date, including the current date.

If you change the update date to the current date, the update will start within the closest available update time window you specified for the environment. If you want to start the update of your sandbox environment immediately, you can set the update time window for this sandbox environment to be 24 hours.

If any errors are detected during the update, you'll receive email notification that describes the detected issues.

Any environments that fail to update due to per-tenant extension compatibility issues or any other issues will be automatically restored to the original application version. Within one hour, they are automatically rescheduled for another update attempt. Scheduled update date is again set to seven days in the future. If you address the compatibility issues earlier, you can change the date to an earlier date, including the current date. This pattern repeats until your environment is updated successfully.

Overview of the timeline for preparing for the next major update

The following table describes the suggested milestones with example dates.

Milestone Example date Description
Previews are available February 25, 2020 You create a new sandbox environment based on the new preview for test purposes. For more information, see Prepare for major updates with preview environments.
A few days before you know that the update is announced March 30, 2020 You create a new sandbox environment based on your existing production environment and wait for it to be automatically updated to the new version.
Interim sandbox is updated to the new version April 2. 2020 The new sandbox is updated, and you can test your existing extensions and your production data against the new version.
Update available in your region April 8, 2020 you're notified that the update is available and hurry to set the relevant update dates in the Business Central administration center.
Preview sandboxes are deleted May 1, 2020 30 days after the new major update is announced, the preview sandboxes are deleted.

See also

Managing Major and Minor Updates of Business Central Online
Working with Administration Tools
The Business Central Administration Center
Managing Environments
Managing Tenant Notifications
Introduction to automation APIs