Office 365 with MEMCM – Enterprise Deployment Lessons Learned – Changing Channels

Please note, that office channel names have changed since I wrote this, and I’ll try to update this post, sorry for anything I’ve missed. [MS Docs about Change]. The office has several Channels in which you receive feature updates at different rates. Check out a good Doc here [MS Docs]. I also highly recommend reading the [considerations section] on the [changing channel docs]. When I was researching how the Channels worked, the most useful post I found with information was on the MS Endpoint Mgr blog [Post].

Based on that, I wrote my own script used in a ConfigItem and deployed it as a baseline to set the Channel [GitHub]

We have set up 2 methods for channeling the Office Channel on devices. One that allows self-service via an application in the software center, and one that is forced via a baseline set on a collection.

Baseline (required) model

Collections:
  1. Microsoft 365 Set Channel – Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel
  2. Microsoft 365 Set Channel – Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel (Preview)
  3. Microsoft 365 Set Channel – Enterprise Monthly
Configuration Items:
Condition: Equals Compliant | Remediate = YES
Detection is if Office 365 is installed.  This will probably be changing soon when Microsoft finishes rebranding its names.

CI’s are all identical except for a variable in the Scripts where it sets the Channel (SemiAnnual / SemiAnnualPreview / EnterpriseMonthly)

Baselines & Deployment Info:
Here you can see the 3 Baselines, each Baseline has the associated CI and it is deployed (With Remediate) to the associated Collection.

Self-Service Application Model

In Software Center, the user has the option to install add-ons (Controlled via User Deployments / User Groups) and the user has the option to change to Monthly / Targeted (Controlled via User Deployments).

When a user goes to install Monthly or Targeted, the installer script detects that Office 365 is already installed, detects that you’re trying to install a different channel than the one currently installed, and flips the switch to change the channel to the new Channel.

When the user installs the Monthly Channel, the “Install” Process only takes seconds because all it is doing is changing a couple of registry keys and running the Click 2 Run engine telling it to change the channel.

This is the part of the script that runs in this scenario:

Recently updated to reflect new channel names

Registry Info

Before the switch, this is Semi-Annual Channel:

Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel

Then after the switch, the keys update to the Current Channel (Formerly Monthly)

Current Channel

After you flip the channel, the next software update, the machine will see it is on the new channel and pull down the patch.

Once the patch is downloaded, you’ll get the notification:

If you enable them in software center, you’ll also see it there:

Once the patch has been installed, when you launch the office product, you’ll see it has switched to running the new channel.

Here you can see the new Build number along with the updated channel info.

ConfigMgr Console

Confirming from the Console. Software Library Node -> Office 365 Client Management. A nice Dashboard to monitor and assist with the management of Office 365. You can see the different versions of Office installed, along with the different channels.

Just a quick plug, the Right Click tools make monitoring status easy too.  If you’re trying to do this all remotely to assist a user, you can trigger it via Remote Software Center, then trigger the software update scans, then help poke the updates:

This is nice because I can see the updates have been made available to these machines and even installed.  One of the machines is now pending a reboot before the machine changes from SAC to Targeted

Here I can see the compliance, looks like one of my machines hasn’t run the eval, so let’s just trigger it on all 5 of them.
Sweet, after trigging the evals, I can see all 5 machines are compliant with my Channel Baselines and they will start reporting into the Console on those new channels.
The Office Dashboard confirms that my Baseline is working as expected. 3 SAC / 1 SACT / 1 Monthly

Sorry, since the channel change is so new, many of the tools haven’t yet been updated (ConfigMgr / Office Deployment Toolkit) to reflect the change, so I can’t get image captures at this point.

Thanks for taking a look, I hope this was helpful to you, as always, hit me up on Twitter with any questions.

Check out the other posts in this series:

Enterprise Deployment Lessons Learned Part 1 – Content

Enterprise Deployment Lessons Learned Part 3 – Deployments

Enterprise Deployment Lessons Learned Part 4 – Baseline – Toast Notifications

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