Microsoft Office Versions

Microsoft publishes multiple versions and channels for Office Apps.

โ“ What are Microsoft 365 Apps?

Microsoft 365 Apps is the locally installed version of Office thatโ€™s available through many Office 365 plans and includes all of the Office apps. Microsoft 365 Apps is updated regularly. These updates occur at a different pace depending on the update channel you or your organization select.

๐Ÿ–ฅ๏ธ What are Windows Update Channels?

Update Channels allow users to choose how they want to receive updates to Microsoft Office. Selecting a more active schedule of releases like Current Channel (Preview) gives users the newest updates as they become available. However, those updates may not be fully tested and may not remain in the program for the long term. The Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel gives users the fewest updates after the longest schedule of testing,

Update channels are essentially different versions of Office 365 Apps. Most students will likely have the Current Channel installed by default. However, because SIMnet follows the Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel for releasing new features, this could cause a discrepancy between what a student sees on their own version of Office 365 and what they see in SIMnet. We advise that you avoid any channels named โ€œPreviewโ€ as they may contain features that are not supported in Projects.

Update channels are specific to the device being used and is set when Office 365 Apps is installed. For example, lab computers may be set to run on a different channel than a studentโ€™s personal computer. Each Office 365 subscription is subscribed to a default update channel but can be changed. Refer to Microsoft for more information.

New Name

Previous Name

Release Schedule

Current Channel (Preview)

Monthly Channel (Targeted)

No set schedule, updates released as they are available

Current Channel

Monthly Channel

No set schedule, updates released as they are available

Monthly Enterprise Channel (Preview)


Once a month, second Tuesday of the month

Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel (Preview)

Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted)

Second Tuesday in March and September

Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel

Semi-Annual Channel

Second Tuesday in January and July

For additional details visit ๐Ÿ‘‰ Microsoft's Help Topic.

๐ŸŽ Office for Mac Update Channels

Mac users have fewer update channels but they follow the same basic structure as Windows users.

Channel Name

Channel Info

Current Channel

Infrequent, fully tested updates

Current Channel (Preview)

Monthly updates with fully supported features

Beta Channel

Frequent updates that are not fully supported

To view your Mac Update Channel, open an application, like Word. Click Help in the top menu. Select Check for Updates and click the Advanced button. Select your channel from the Update Channel drop-down menu.

๐Ÿ’ป Office Online App Updates

Office Online Apps are updated according to their organizations preference. Typically, Microsoft will release changes to the Office Online Apps on a monthly cadence. Please visit our help topic on projects for the Office Online Apps ๐Ÿ‘‰ here.

๐Ÿ“’ How does this affect SIMnet?

In SIMnet, the SIMbook content, Exam Questions, Show Me, Guide Me, and Let Me Try exercises are updated following the Semi-Annual Enterprise channel releases in January and July. For projects, alternate instructions are added for changes that appear in the current channel but have not yet been released in the Semi-Annual Enterprise channel.

๐ŸŽฏ How do I know which version of Microsoft 365 Apps I have?

If you are unsure which version of Office you have, open any Office file (or create a new blank file). Click the File tab to open Backstage view. Click Account or Help from the list at the left of the screen. Your Office installation information will be listed on the next screen. Click the Update Options button to show the available options and select the right choice.

For more information about reviewing your Microsoft Office version, view the ๐Ÿ‘‰ Finding Your Office Version section.

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