Use Update Channel and Target Version settings to update Office 365 with Microsoft Intune Administrative Templates

In Intune, you can use Windows 10 templates to configure group policy settings. This article shows you how to update Office 365 using an administrative template in Intune. It also gives guidance on confirming your policies apply successfully. This information also helps when troubleshooting.

In this scenario, you create an administrative template in Intune that updates Office 365 on your devices.

For more information on administrative templates, see Windows 10 templates to configure group policy settings.

Applies to:

  • Windows 10 and later
  • Office 365

Prerequisites

Be sure to enable Microsoft 365 Apps Automatic Updates for your Office apps. You can do this using group policy, or the Intune Office 2016 ADMX template:

In Intune Administrative Template, set the Enable Automatic Updates setting for Office

Set the Update Channel in the Intune administrative template

  1. In your Intune administrative template, go to the Update Channel setting, and enter the channel you want. For example, choose Semi-Annual Channel:

    In Intune Administrative Template, set the Update Channel setting for Office

    Note

    It's recommended to update more frequently. Semi-annually is only used as an example.

  2. Be sure to assign the policy to your Windows 10 devices. To test your policy sooner, you can also sync the policy:

Check the Intune registry keys

After you assign the policy and the device syncs, you can confirm the policy is applied:

  1. On the device, open the Registry Editor app.

  2. Go to the Intune policy path: Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\PolicyManager\Providers\<Provider ID>\default\Device\office16~Policy~L_MicrosoftOfficemachine~L_Updates.

    Tip

    The <Provider ID> in the registry key changes. To find the provider ID for your device, open the Registry Editor app, and go to Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\PolicyManager\AdmxInstalled. The provider ID is shown.

    When the policy is applied, you see the following registry keys:

    • L_UpdateBranch
    • L_UpdateTargetVersion

    Looking at the following example, you see L_UpdateBranch has a value similar to <enabled /><data id="L_UpdateBranchID" value="Deferred" />. This value means it's set to Semi-Annual Channel:

    Administrative template L_Updatebranch registry key example

    Tip

    Manage Microsoft 365 Apps with Configuration Manager lists the values, and what they mean. The registry values are based on the distribution channel selected:

    • Monthly Channel - value="Current"
    • Monthly Channel (Targeted) - value="Current"
    • Semi-Annual Channel - value="Current"
    • Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted) - value="FirstReleaseDeferred"
    • Insider Fast - value="InsiderFast"

At this point, the Intune policy is successfully applied to the device.

Check the Office registry keys

  1. On the device, open the Registry Editor app.

  2. Go to the Office policy path: Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\ClickToRun\Configuration.

    You see the following registry keys:

    • UpdateChannel: A dynamic key that changes, depending on the configured settings.
    • CDNBaseUrl: Set when Office 365 installs on the device.
  3. Look at the UpdateChannel value. The value tells you how frequently Office is updated. Manage Microsoft 365 Apps with Configuration Manager lists the values, and what they're set to.

    Looking at the following example, you see UpdateChannel is set to http://officecdn.microsoft.com/pr/492350f6-3a01-4f97-b9c0-c7c6ddf67d60, which is monthly:

    Administrative template Office UpdateChannel registry key example

    This example means the policy isn't applied yet, as it's still set to monthly, instead of semi-annual.

This registry key is updated when the Task Scheduler > Office Automatic Updates 2.0 runs, or when a user signs into the device. To confirm, open the Office Automatic Updates 2.0 task > Triggers. Depending on your triggers, it can take at least a day and more before the UpdateChannel registry key is updated.

Force Office automatic updates to run

To test your policy, you can force the policy settings on the device. The following steps update the registry. As always, be careful when updating the registry.

  1. Clear the registry key:

    1. Go to Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\ClickToRun\Updates.
    2. Double-select the UpdateDetectionLastRunTime key, delete the value data > OK.
  2. Run the Office Automatic Updates task:

    1. Open the Task Scheduler app on the device.

    2. Expand Task Scheduler Library > Microsoft > Office.

    3. Select Office Automatic Updates 2.0 > Run:

      Open Task Schedule, and run Office Automatic Updates

      Wait for the task to finish, which can take several minutes.

  3. In the Registry Editor app, go to Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\ClickToRun\Configuration. Check the UpdateChannel value.

    It should be updated with the value set in the policy. In our example, the value should be set to http://officecdn.microsoft.com/pr/7ffbc6bf-bc32-4f92-8982-f9dd17fd3114.

At this point, the Office update channel is successfully changed on the device. You can open an Office 365 app for a user that receives this update to check status.

Force the Office synchronization to update account information

If you want to do more, you can force Office to get the latest version update. The following steps should only be done as a confirmation, or if you need the devices to get the latest version update from that channel quickly. Otherwise, let Office do its job, and update automatically.

Step 1: Force the Office version to update

  1. Confirm the Office version supports the update channel you're choosing. Update history for Microsoft 365 Apps lists the build numbers that support the different update channels.

  2. In your Intune administrative template, go to the Target Version setting, and enter the version you want.

    Your Target version setting looks similar to the following setting:

    In Intune Administrative Template, set the Target Version setting for Office

Important

  • Be sure to assign the policy.
  • If you change an existing policy, your changes affect all assigned users.
  • If you're testing this feature, it's recommended to create a test policy, and assign the policy to a test group of users.

Step 2: Check the Office version

Consider using these steps to test your policy before deploying the policy to all users.

  1. In the Registry Editor app, go to Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\PolicyManager\Providers\<Provider ID>\default\Device\office16~Policy~L_MicrosoftOfficemachine~L_Updates

  2. Look at the L_UpdateTargetVersion value. Once the policy applies, the value is set to the version you entered, such as <enabled /><data id="L_UpdateTargetVersionID" value="16.0.10730.20344" />.

    At this point, the Intune policy is successfully applied to the device.

  3. Next, you can force Office to update. Open an Office app, such as Excel. Choose to update now (possibly in the Account menu).

    The update takes several minutes. You can confirm Office is trying to get the version you enter:

    1. On the device, go to C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Updates\Detection\Version.

    2. Open the VersionDescriptor.xml file, and go to the <Version> section. The available version should be the same version you entered in the Intune policy, such as:

      Check the version section in the version descriptor Office XML file

  4. After the update is installed, the Office app should show the new version (for example, on the Account menu)

Next steps

Update channel values for Office 365 clients

Overview of the Office cloud policy service for Microsoft 365 Apps

Use Windows 10 templates to configure group policy settings (ADMX templates) in Microsoft Intune