On 6th July 2018 Microsoft announced a change in the policy and practice of upgrading the ‘Online’ / SaaS Microsoft Dynamics 365, including Customer Engagement – aka CRM Online.
Previously, Microsoft allowed customers to schedule an upgrade timeslot once a new version, with delays and skipping some upgrades permitted. While this free-flowing arrangement had its benefits, it also has drawbacks and some unpredictability in Microsoft’s delivery timescale for new releases made planning difficult.
This has now changed and Microsoft are moving to two major releases each year: October and April. That means the next major release will be October 2018.
The new approach includes a commitment to provide more advanced warning about what is going to be included in the next upgrade – including release notes (with the release notes for the October 2018 update promised on 23rd July 2018).
Microsoft has said that upgrades will be ‘backward compatible’ to previous versions, with any major new / disruptive features being disabled as default when upgrading (so you have to switch them on). This is an approach that Microsoft has successfully taken with previous CRM upgrades that included major changes to the user experience. Testing will still be possible in the ‘sandbox’ environment, before applying to ‘live’, with a hint that this process will be further improved.
For customers on v8.1 or v8.2 of CRM Online, there is a deadline to upgrade to the latest version by 31st January 2019, so it’s time to start planning that if you have been putting it off.
All in all, this is a positive announcement from Microsoft that gives us more clarity on the upgrade process and ‘cadence’, so we should no longer face the scenario when a ‘Spring’ upgrade is delivered in November…
Microsoft will keep the Dynamics 365 Business Central ERP solution on a continuous update cycle, so there is no change for our Business Central customers.