First Release in Office 365:


In this article, I’ll  will be discussing about “First Release in Office 365 “using which you can manage how your organization receive the regular updates from Microsoft for Office 365. Now, it’s a known fact that unlike on-premises the updates for Office 365 are pushed regularly and using this new feature in Office 365 you can designate that only certain individuals receive the updates first before it’s made generally available to everyone in the organization. By doing so you have ample amount of time to test these updates and check whether it breaks something (i.e. may be some custom functionalities) or you can remain on the default release schedule and receive the updates later.

So, to put it in simple words, ““First Release” update for Office 365 allows you to get access to updates faster than GA (General Availability) “.

Now, before we look on how to enable this feature in your Office 365 tenant, let’s take a look on the two type of release options.

  1. Standard Release
  2. First Release

Standard Release:

This is the default option where you and your users receive the latest updates when they’re released broadly to all Office 365 customers. This gives you extra time to prepare your support staff and users for upcoming changes. This is how Microsoft puts it:

“You and your users receive a select set of significant service updates 3 weeks or more after the official announcement. For at least 3 weeks, you have time to learn about the updates and prepare your employees.”

First Release:

With this option, you and your users can be the first to see the latest updates and help shape the product by providing early feedback. You can choose to have individuals or the entire organization receive updates early. This is how Microsoft puts it:

“You and your users receive a select set of significant service updates as early as one week after the official announcement. Choose this option if you and your employees are comfortable with regular updates to the Office 365 service.”

However, the default is to remain with “Standard Release”, which means that new functionality is released to your tenant when it’s good and ready.

The image depicted below gives a detailed explanation on the Office 365 release cycle:


So, as we’re done explaining what’s First release in Office 365, let’s look on how to enable that in your tenant. Remember, by default your tenant will be on “Standard Release “mode  and you need to enable “First Release “option.

Note: The Office 365 updates described in this article apply to Office 365, SharePoint Online, and Exchange Online. They do not apply to Skype for Business and related services.

Steps to activate First Release in your Office 365 Tenant:

  1. Sign in to Office 365 with your work or school account.
  2. Go to the Office 365 admin center as shown in the image below and click on the app launcher. You can optionally click on “Admin” option as shown below.


3. Click on “Admin” as shown in the image below.


4. Navigate to Settings and click on Organization profile as shown below.


5. Once you’re on the Organization profile page you will see the “Release preference “option as shown in the image below. Please click the “edit” button to the change the settings for Release preference.


6. You will notice 3 options as shown in the image below.


7. Choose the option that best suits your need, I’m choosing the third option as I want to enable First release option only for selected users.


8. On the next screen where it asks for a confirmation, please select Yes.


9. On the next screen, you will be asked to add people for First release as shown below.



10. Please select users from the list of available users as shown in the image below. I’m choosing myself here. You can also search for a user in the search box.


11. Once done you will see an option which says your release preference has been updated.


12. Once you click on close you can check & verify the list of users subscribed for first release. Here in this case you can see my name.


13. Finally, you can check the Organization profile home page to verify the release preference settings.


This confirms that you I have turned on “First preference “for myself alone. The best practice is to enable this for power users or IT administrators so that they can check the features before it’s made generally available for all end users. However, it’s up to you on how you want to manage this for your users .

Thanks for reading this post …. Good luck with Office 365!!!!