FAQ for Dynamics 365 Update Policies
These answers apply to all Dynamics 365 (online) applications.
What is the cadence for Dynamics 365 updates?
Microsoft will deliver two major updates per year, in 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 turned off by default. This means administrators will be able to first test then enable 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.
What are the key changes to the support policy?
Please review the updated support policies for Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement applications (Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, Project Service Automation, and 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.
For Dynamics 365 (online) Customer Engagement applications, we sent update communications in May, 2018 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 and Operations (online), all customers running versions 7.0, 7.1, 7.2, and 8.0 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 version 7.3 will be available until April 30, 2020.
We will continue to fully support older versions of Dynamics 365 applications until the time frame mentioned earlier. After those dates, we will only support the latest generally available version.
How do you know what is part of the new release?
Microsoft publishes release notes, which contain a summary of all the new features and improvements as well as information on when they are planned to be available. Release notes will be published in advance of 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, 2018.
How can you validate changes in the updates early?
We are providing the ability to test the latest capabilities early in the update cycle. See the sections later for Customer Engagement applications and Finance and Operations for more details. Our ISV partners can take advantage of this early access to innovate early to be better prepared for general availability.
Starting with the April 2019 update, you can validate the impact of 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.
Why are you making these changes?
We are optimizing the way we deliver Dynamics 365 updates for a more consistent, predictable, and seamless experience for every customer. Our new regular update cadence aims to lower upgrade costs, provide all users access to the latest product capabilities and performance improvements, and offer a better support experience.
Is there any impact on first party integrations and product compatibility?
The product version updates should not have any impact to first party integrations with other products, such as Power BI or Office 365. The client version support matrix (e.g. browsers, Office apps) will be published separately and is independent of the continuous product updates. Before a major update, we recommend you block some time to test and ensure your scenarios work as expected.
Is there any impact on third-party integrations and product compatibility?
The continuous product updates will be backward compatible, and hence third-party integrations and apps should continue to work. Before a major update, we recommend you block some time to test and ensure integrations work as expected.
Are there any changes for customers of Dynamics 365 for Business Central or Dynamics 365 for Talent?
No. 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.
Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement applications
This section applies to the Customer Engagement applications: Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, Project Service Automation, and Marketing
Will my users be affected due to the new update process?
The updates are backward compatible, so your apps and customizations will continue to work post update. New features with potentially disruptive changes to the user experience are off by default. This means administrators will be able to test first then opt-in to enable these features for their organization.
Will I still be able to schedule the major updates?
Yes, we will provide an update window within which you can schedule a major update. If you don’t set a time within the window, Microsoft will schedule an automatic update for your organization and communicate the date.
How do you ensure reliability of the updates?
We are phasing deployments over several weeks following our established safe deployment practices and monitoring updates closely for any issues.
What new features are included in the latest version?
The release notes list the new capabilities in the latest version. One important new capability in the latest version of Dynamics 365 is a brand-new user experience called the Unified Interface. Unified interface is a new metadata driven client interface that provides consistent experiences across all applications, devices, and form factors. All existing forms and supported customizations will just work in the new interface, making upgrades easy.
How will you handle feature deprecations or removal of functionality as part of the new update process?
In the rare event where we need to remove any functionality or feature, we will provide an alternate recommended solution and 12 months of advance notice. We will also track feature usage and make adjustments as needed.
How do I sign up to test updates early in the cycle?
Dynamics 365 customer engagement applications currently has a ‘First release’ program in private preview where customers can get updates one or more weeks before they are applied in production environments. Please stay tuned for details as we roll this out more broadly.
Will you provide a preview sandbox environment? How do I sign up for one?
No need to sign up. We will provide the update in a preview sandbox environment for you to try out the new capabilities and validate against your current environment. We will let you know when to expect the preview sandbox.
What is the impact on Unified Service Desk users?
Unified Service Desk releases a major update annually, interspersed with multiple updates with important bug fixes and new features. Organizations using Unified Service Desk should plan to update their Unified Service Desk solutions and clients to the latest version. Download the latest version of Unified Service Desk. Please refer to this blog post for the best practices around Unified Service Desk deployment and upgrade.
Does this update policy apply to the applications as well as the platform?
Yes. The optimizations to the update process apply to the Dynamics 365 applications as well as the underlying Common Data Service for Apps.
Does this update apply to customers who have deployed Microsoft Dynamics on-premises?
No. This update applies only to customers of our online service.
Does this update apply to customers in Microsoft National Clouds?
No. This update does not apply to customers of Dynamics 365 in Microsoft Cloud for US Government or Microsoft Cloud Germany.
Older versions of customer engagement applications
What product versions are impacted?
For Dynamics 365 (online) Customer Engagement applications, we sent update communications in May to all customers running version 8.1 and have scheduled updates. Customers running version 8.2 should plan to update to the latest version by January 31, 2019.
Do customers running version 9.0 need to take any action?
You do not need to take any action. You are running the latest version already.
How do I update to the latest version?
You can find instructions on how to schedule and approve updates here. For customers running version 8.2, the date for the update should be on or before January 31, 2019.
What happens if I miss the deadline to select my preferred date/time to update?
If you do not schedule an update to occur on or before January 31, 2019, Microsoft will schedule an automatic update for your organization and communicate the dates. The automatic update would take place during your normal maintenance window.
How long does the update take?
The length of the update is dependent on the database size of the organization, you can monitor the status of the update by following the directions located under Update status on the Manage updates page. Microsoft will take necessary precautions to ensure the update will complete successfully.
What is included in this update?
Your v8.2 organization will be updated to the latest version of Dynamics 365. This update contains several performance and reliability improvements as well as new features and capabilities. You can find the list of new features in our Release Notes.
What are the benefits of this update?
By updating to the latest version, you can take advantage of the number of reliability, performance improvements, bug fixes, and the latest features and capabilities that most of our customers are already using. It is important that our customers are on the latest version for us to be able to deliver a great service and support experience. Updating to the latest version will ensure that you stay compliant with the Update policy.
How can you prepare for this update?
If you are using any of the Microsoft Dynamics client components such as Unified Service Desk, Outlook Client, Plugin Registration Tool (PRT), ADX Portal, Email Router, Outlook Client, Dynamics Connector, or any other custom component, you need to download the latest version of these components. You can find additional information and the supported versions for client components here.
Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations
What product versions are impacted?
For Finance and Operations, the latest, current version is version 8.0. The April 2019 update will be referred to as version 10. All customers running versions 7.0, 7.1, 7.2, and 8.0 should update to version 10. The only exception to being on the latest version is for customers with unfulfilled extension requests that have been submitted to Microsoft. For these customers, support for version 7.3 will be available until April 2020.
The Support lifecycle for versions 7.1 and 7.2 will end on April 2019. Customers running these versions will need to upgrade to version 10, unless they have existing unfulfilled extension requests, in which case those customers must upgrade to version 7.3.
Do these changes apply to on-premises versions?
Yes. Please see the expiry dates for releases in the lifecycle policy.
How do I update to the latest version?
Finance and Operations customers will receive notifications thruogh Lifecycle Services. Individuals who are listed to receive notification will receive email communication with instructions included for how to update to the latest major or minor version. Documentation will also be made available on docs.microsoft.com.
Can I select the date/time to update?
Customers can select their update time in Lifecycle Services. Communication will be sent to those individuals who opt in to receive LCS notifications. Customers will be able to select the designated tier 2/UAT sandbox for the update. Customers will have time for testing and validation. Customers can optionally choose to apply the update earlier to production through Lifecycle Services. Customers are responsible for deploying the update to any additional sandbox or developer/build (tier 1) environments.
How do I sign up to test updates early in the cycle?
Finance and Operations provides early access to updates as part of the Insider program. Customers and partners can sign up for this program to test and validate updates ahead of time before they are generally available.
Is there tooling available to support testing the latest release?
A preview of the Regression Suite Automation Tool for Finance and Operations will be made available. The Regression Suite Automation Tool significantly reduces the time and cost of user acceptance testing. User acceptance testing is typically required before taking a Microsoft application update or applying custom code and configurations to your Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations production environment. It enables functional power users to record business tasks using the Finance and Operations task recorder and convert them into a suite of automated tests without the need to write source code. Test libraries are stored and distributed in Lifecycle services using the Business Process Modeler (BPM) libraries and fully integrated with Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) for test execution, reporting and investigation. Test data parameters are decoupled from test steps and stored in Excel data files. To learn more, join the Insider Program: https://experience.dynamics.com