Visual Studio Channels and Release Rhythm
We continually enhance the capabilities of Visual Studio with regular minor version updates according to our Roadmap of upcoming features. We introduce these new features and bug fixes first on the Preview Channel so that you can provide early feedback. When these new features are ready for widespread use, we release them on the Current Channel. We also sometimes include Preview Features to the Current Channel, which give you an opportunity to try out new features and share your feedback without doing another install. Finally, we offer Long-Term Servicing Channels (LTSC) to give your development team more control over when you adopt new feature releases.
This page explains our release rhythm of previews, Preview Features, releases, servicing fixes, long-term support, and how you can provide feedback to us on the features and fixes we release.
You can control when to adopt feature updates by selecting a channel. There are three options for installing and updating Visual Studio. You may have any combination of these on a single machine:
(Figure 1) Visual Studio Channels and Release Cadence
Determining your product edition, version, and channel
You can determine which edition, channel, and version of Visual Studio update you are using by opening Help > About. The edition and channel will be indicated by, for example, "Visual Studio Professional 2022 Current Channel". The version number will indicate the major version of Visual Studio by using the first number ("17"), the minor update version by using the second number ("17.1"), and the servicing update by using the third number ("17.1.5"). If you're using the Preview Channel, the preview release will also be indicated after the version number ("17.2.0 Preview 2.0").
Installing, updating, and switching channels
You may select a channel by either installing a release of Visual Studio from that channel or, in some cases, by using the Channel Selection dialog. If your installation is managed by your IT administrator, they may also control the channel selection. The sections below link to the installation location for each channel.
You may install multiple channels side-by-side on the same machine. For example, you may install and use Preview Channel side-by-side with Current Channel. Note that some shared components, for example Windows SDK, are used by all channels on a machine and will be updated to whichever channel has the latest version.
You will receive a separate notification within Visual Studio to update each channel. You may also update each channel by using the Visual Studio Installer.
Current Channel keeps you up to date with the features ready for widespread mainstream production use. The updates released to the Current Channel fall into the following two categories:
- Minor Updates ship every three months to the Current Channel, after being available in the Preview Channel. These updates may include new features, bug fixes, and changes to adapt to platform updates (for example, changes in Windows, Azure, Android, or iOS).
- Servicing Updates are releases of targeted fixes for critical quality, performance, reliability, or security issues.
We stop servicing a minor version update on the Current Channel when the next minor version update is released. For example, we will not provide additional servicing updates to version 17.1 once 17.2 has released.
We announce minor updates through the Visual Studio blog. All minor and servicing updates are accompanied by Current Channel release notes. Visual Studio also alerts you that a new update is available by the notification icon in the bottom right corner of the IDE, by an entry in the notification hub, and by text in the Visual Studio Installer.
When you update your install of Visual Studio on the Current Channel, you will receive the latest servicing update for the latest available minor update.
In addition, the final minor version released for a major version of Visual Studio will be designated as an LTSC release and supported for the duration of that major version's support lifecycle. Users of the Current Channel do not need to install or switch to a different channel to remain under support. Simply install the the final minor update, and then stay current with servicing updates. For more details see Visual Studio Product Lifecycle and Servicing.
Release Candidate (RC)
Before General Availability of Visual Studio 2022, we provide one or more Release Candidate (RC) builds in the Current Channel. You can install RC from visualstudio.microsoft.com/downloads. You may use Visual Studio 2022 RC in your daily work, including releasing apps built with it. RC requires a license to use Visual Studio. For Community, we ask that that you sign in to Visual Studio with a Microsoft Account. The Professional and Enterprise editions require a Visual Studio Subscription or a product key. You may also evaluate the Professional and Enterprise Editions without a subscription or product key for 30 days, with a 60-day extension (once per account), if you sign in with a Microsoft or a Work or School account. Once Visual Studio 2022 version 17.0 releases, please upgrade to remain under support.
Preview Channel is meant for those who are eager to try out the very latest Visual Studio features and fixes. It provides you with an early peek once per month of what's coming in the next minor version update of the Current Channel. You can learn about the features and fixes in the Preview Channel release notes. We also announce the availability of a new Preview Channel release through the Visual Studio blog.
We typically ship about three preview releases on the Preview Channel before the new features ship to the Current Channel. Sometimes we also release servicing updates to the Preview Channel. You can install both Preview and Current Channel versions of Visual Studio side-by-side on the same machine. At any given point, the Preview Channel will contain the same or newer features and fixes compared to the Current Channel. Visual Studio will notify you as newer versions are available for install.
Even though previews are not intended for use in production, they are at a sufficient quality level for you to generally use and provide feedback. We service only the latest preview release. For more details see Visual Studio Product Lifecycle and Servicing.
Although the Preview Channel is recommended for trying out new features, we also encourage users in the Current Channel to try out new features via Preview Features. Preview Features differ from the Preview Channel in that each specific feature can be turned on or off. The Preview Features dialog includes description for each feature to help you determine if the feature is relevant to you. Additionally, we hope that you will provide feedback on these features so that we can improve them before they are implemented for all customers.
You can turn Preview Features on or off by going to Tools > Manage Preview Features. We sometimes also run experiments with Preview Features, turning them on for a portion of customers to compare the impact against a control group.
Long-Term Servicing Channels (LTSC)
We strongly encourage everyone to adopt updates as soon as possible. However, we do acknowledge that some customers may need to use an older build. For users of the Professional, Enterprise, and Build Tools editions, we offer Long-Term Servicing Channels (LTSCs) to give administrators and larger development teams more flexibility and control in adopting new releases. We'll release LTSCs twice per year along with even-numbered minor version releases, for example, 17.0 and 17.2. The new features and bug fixes included in an LTSC release match the same minor version released on the Current Channel. New features will not be added to an LTSC after it has been released. The LTSC releases enable teams to remain supported on a minor version with security and bug fixes for up to 18 months after release. There will be multiple LTSCs under support at a given time.
When you update your install of Visual Studio on an LTSC, you will receive the latest servicing update for that same LTSC version. To update from one LTSC release to another, for example from LTSC 17.0 to LTSC 17.2, select the new LTSC release in the Channel Selection dialog. Once the support lifecycle ends for your current LTSC, you must switch your channel to an LTSC that is still under support or to the Current Channel. The final minor update to a major version of Visual Studio will be supported for the remainder of the 10-year product lifecycle. For more details see Visual Studio Product Lifecycle and Servicing.
You will receive notification of updates to the currently running Visual Studio through the notification icon in the IDE, through posts to the Visual Studio blog, and from the Visual Studio Installer. The Current Channel and LTSC release notes and Preview Channel release notes will document the features and fixes available in that release to help you make an informed decision about when to install it. Lastly, we will update all the relevant feedback items on the Developer Community portal to let you know in which version an issue was fixed.
Feedback & Suggestions
We would love to hear from you! You can Report a Problem or Suggest a Feature by using the Send Feedback icon in the upper right-hand corner of either the installer or the Visual Studio IDE, or from Help > Send Feedback. You can track your issues by using Visual Studio Developer Community, where you add comments or find solutions. You can also get free installation help through our Live Chat support.