I was excited to see the official announcement yesterday that Office 2016 will be available starting on September 22nd. Another interesting announcement was the improvements that we are making to the Office update model.
Consistent with the Windows 10 approach, we are seeing a similar Current Branch and Current Branch for Business model for the Office desktop client in Office 365.
With Current Branch you will continue to receive monthly feature and security updates just as you have been over the past few years. Current Branch means you will always have the most current Office apps and capabilities deployed. The next Current Branch will release on September 22nd, and will have all of the new Office 2016 app updates included.
Current Branch is the default update branch for Office 365 Business, which is the version of Office that comes with the Office 365 Business and Office 365 Business Premium plans.
The new Current Branch for Business update model will deliver three cumulative feature updates per year, while continuing to offer monthly security updates. You’ll see the first Current Branch for Business build in February 2016—which is effectively the same feature set as the September 22nd release, but with four additional months of security updates also included. This tri-annual update model offers an additional way to stay current moving forward, and is a good choice if your organization typically waits a few months prior to rolling out a new version of Office or needs more time to test Office 2016 and your customizations between feature updates.
Current Branch for Business will be the default update branch for Office 365 ProPlus, which comes as either a standalone offering or included in the Office 365 E3 and E4 plans.
You’ll have the ability to configure the update branch using a new version of the Office Deployment Tool or the latest Group Policy Administrative Templates files (ADMX/ADML). The new version of the Office Deployment Tool and the new Administrative Templates files aren’t available yet but will be soon.
For more information, see the blog announcement from yesterday Admins—get ready for Office 2016, rollout begins September 22!
For more technical details on the new update branches, see the TechNet article Overview of update branches for Office 365 ProPlus
Another great resource for partners and admins to get ready for the 2016 update is Prepare to update Office 365 ProPlus to the Office 2016 version