Announcing the Dynamics 365 April ‘19 release timeline

In July 2018, we announced a set of changes to the way we deliver Dynamics 365 updates to help you stay current in a consistent, predictable, and seamless manner. Today, I want to follow-up with an update on our progress since July, as well as reveal the timeline and details for the April ’19 release.

Progress on continuous and seamless updates

October ’18 update deployed seamlessly

We published the October ’18 release notes on July 23, 2018, which included a summary of all the new features and improvements, as well as information on when they will be available. For Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement apps (Sales, Service, and Marketing), our customers on the latest version (v9) received the October ’18 update seamlessly without requiring any action from the administrators or users. For Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, customers on the October ’18 release will now stay current with monthly updates going forward without ever having to do another upgrade.  This is how production updates will be deployed going forward—automatically and seamlessly, without disruption.

Increased stability for update deployments

We have made significant engineering investments to ensure quality and improve the stability of our update deployments. We deploy our production updates using a gradual rollout mechanism called SAFE deployment. In this model, customers can first validate a preview of the update in a production-like sandbox environment. Our production deployments are phased across multiple weeks, with a subset of customers getting updated each week. This gradual rollout increases stability by ensuring that any bugs that are found will be fixed without impacting a broad set of customers.

One version progress

We have been making great progress to upgrade all Dynamics 365 customers to the latest version. As of today, over 94 percent of Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement instances and over 85 percent of Finance and Operations instances are running on the latest version. These customers on the latest version have been experiencing significant improvements in reliability and performance. They are also taking advantage of the latest capabilities and features which are part of the October ’18 release.

We are working with customers that remain on the older versions to upgrade to the latest version according to the timelines mentioned in this post. We have published testing tools such as Easy Repro for Customer Engagement applications and the Regression Suite Automation Tool for Finance and Operations to reduce the time and cost of testing before the upgrade.

April ’19 release timelines and details

The April ’19 release signifies a key milestone for Dynamics 365. It is the first major update where all of our customers across Dynamics 365 will be on the latest version and on a consistent update schedule. It’s also a template of how major updates will be done going forward in April and October every year.

We are announcing key dates for the April ’19 release today—a summary of the improvements that will help you prepare to receive the update with confidence, through early visibility of what’s coming, and early access to preview capability.

Early visibility through release notes

On January 21, 2019, we plan to publish the April ‘19 release notes with the initial list of features for Dynamics 365 and the Microsoft Power platform. These release notes will provide you with early visibility to get ready for the update.

Bookmark this URL to access the release notes.

Early access through previews

Starting February 1, 2019, we will enable a preview of the April 2019 update features for you to validate in a non-production environment before those features are deployed in production. The list of features that will be available for preview will be called out in the release notes. As mentioned above, April ’19 release notes will be published on January 21, 2019.

Previews provide you with an opportunity to validate the update in your sandbox environment before it’s applied to your production environment. Previews also give you an opportunity to experience the new features in advance and roll them out confidently to all your users.

We have published a set of FAQs on how to enable and validate previews. You can find additional details and how-tos in the following articles for Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement applications and Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations.

We are confident that the new update process will benefit everyone in your organization, with improved performance and stability across Dynamics 365 applications, providing users access to new features faster, and offering administrators smoother and more predictable upgrades. We look forward to working closely with you as we get ready for the April ’19 release.

If you have any questions or feedback, join the discussion at the Release Readiness forum in the Dynamics community.