How to stay up to date with Office 365 life cycle changes

Published by
Matt Wade
November 29, 2019

Moving to the cloud means you no longer control the upgrade, patching, and feature rollout schedule of your enterprise systems. To be the best Office 365 owner you can be, you’re going to have to stay current on everything that’s going on in the ecosystem. It’s hard to know which sources to use, so the below listing gives you a starting point of official Microsoft resources and individuals.

An infographic version is shown first and this post finishes with a spreadsheet linking to each app or service’s specific blog, roadmap, feedback area, community forum, and Twitter presence.

Admin Message Center

Office.com > Admin Center > Message Center

The admin’s source for specific feature rollouts, service outages, and requests for action within Office 365. Messages are specific to your tenant. Message Center content is only available to Office 365 admins and some other service admins (e.g., SharePoint Online, Exchange Online) and there is no public listing of the messages going out by tenant or data center.Notifications are also available through the iOS and Android apps.

Roadmap

https://jum.to/MS365Roadmap

This is the place to find out which (usually major) features are on the drawing board and when they’re planned to be released. The Roadmap can be filtered by features and services and is updated regularly. Its content is useful for inclusion in an organization’s strategic and governance planning for Office 365. Beware: delivery dates are generally only accurate to the level of a calendar year quarter (range of three months).

Tech Community

https://techcommunity.microsoft.com

A combination of blogs and discussion forum, all of which are organized and separated by Office 365 app or service. Tech Community announcements generally fill the details gap in the Office Blogs and provide interaction with the more technical authors. Discussion forums are available for help, guidance, and technical support, made possible through community interaction between Microsoft representatives, Microsoft MVPs, topic experts, and users across the globe.

Office Blogs

https://blogs.office.com/

Major, big-picture announcements are made on the OfficeBlogs. Generally written by high-level VPs at Microsoft, this blog will announce new applications, major integration upgrades, or reshuffling of services (e.g., introduction of Microsoft 365). Content will be less detailed and less technical than the Tech Community, though this can be helpful when a digestible version of upcoming changes is needed for upper management or theC-suite.

Microsoft Events

https://jum.to/2020Conferences

You’ll get a deluge of information after some Microsoft-led events. The annual Microsoft Ignite conference (usually in November) and—for the last couple years—SharePoint Conference (usually in May) will come with many news items, some major. Smaller events sometimes reveal incremental updates and feature rollouts to various Office 365apps. InspireIgnite the Tour, and Build should be on your pay-attention calendar as well.

Industry Events

http://jum.to/2020Conferences

There’s no better way to stay in the know than by attending industry events like SPTechConSharePoint Fest, and European SharePoint Conference, among many other good ones. SharePoint/Office 365 Saturdays—free, one-day mini-conferences held in cities around the world—and local user groups help foster strong communities.

Feedback

UserVoice and PowerUsers Community

Microsoft continually upgrades Office 365 based on constructive feedback, garnered through systems like UserVoice and thePowerUsers Community. User-provided feature requests, functionality suggestions, and bug reports are voted upon by the community. While higher-voted items generally get more visibility (and are more likely to be worked), less popular but still important items are regularly incorporated as well.

YouTube

Office 365 MonthlyUpdates and OfficePlaylist on Microsoft Mechanics

Microsoft has two useful YouTube channels that provide updates and best practices: the Office 365 channel’s monthly updates playlist and Microsoft Mechanic’s Office playlist. Aimed more at admins than users, these videos can be useful viewing for anyone with an organizational oversight role of an Office 365 app or service. To stay most informed, enable YouTube notifications to know when these videos are published.

Twitter

https://jum.to/O365UpdateSources

Twitter has become a powerful communication tool forMicrosoft to announce updates, changes, and new feature rollouts (including minor ones that may not warrant blog posts). Most apps and services have their own official account and each generally has one or a few individuals who play the role of the face of the team behind the app or service. Find a list of recommended accounts to follow or simply subscribe to the Twitter list linked above.

Complete Listing

Below is a complete listing of all resources available foreach Office 365 app or service. That includes blogs, community forums, roadmaps, feedback mechanisms, and useful Twitter handles. You can also view this via direct link. If you think something is missing, let me know and I’ll update it.