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In our ongoing efforts for modernizing the way we update Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement, we are changing the way you have access to new features and functionality. Some of the changes require explaining the groundwork of how to turn on or opt-in to those new release experiences, so that when they are released the new functionality can be leveraged quickly.

Starting February 1, 2019, you can preview the features coming in the April 2019 update by opting-in to the preview feature updates in the Power platform Admin center. Opting-in will enable all the features and updates for Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement, which becomes generally available in April 2019. More granular controls are in our roadmap and are expected to be gradually rolled out after the initial April 2019 release.

Which environment can be used for previewing features?

The environments (instances) that are eligible for enabling the preview features of the April 2019 release are Production, Trial, and Sandbox. This will allow you the flexibility to explore the preview features, and then adopt them across your environments at a rate that suits your business.

Note: We highly recommend  that you create a copy of your Production environment as a Sandbox environment to try out the preview features. The Sandbox environments can be reset, backed up, and restored as you test features without impacting your Production users.

Note that the exact terminology and content used in this screenshot is a work in progress and might change.

What features and experiences are available for preview?  

By opting-in to the April 2019 preview, you can try out new platform features in Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement and apps such as Sales, Service, and Marketing. This includes any updates to the existing functionality that will be made mandatory in April 2019 (for example, updating the form density in user experience) and features that will meaningfully change the user experience with the April 2019 update.

This preview will NOT include the features and updates that will not be enabled by default in April 2019. Additional features that can be enabled on a one-by-one basis will be outlined in the April 2019 release notes, scheduled to be published on January 21, 2019.

How can you identify if your environment has preview enabled for April 2019 release?

Admins can go to the Power platform Admin center to view the opt-in status for their environment.

Users can view the About page (as shown below) to check if April 2019 (preview) is listed with the “Version” information.

Note that the exact terminology and content used in this screenshot is a work in progress and might change.

How will the April 2019 features be enabled for customers who did not opt-in to the preview?

Starting on April 5, 2019, we will begin to use our gradual region-by-region deployment cadence to enable the April 2019 features across our global customer base. This update will be like the Minor Service Update experience we are delivering today and won’t require you to schedule downtime to perform the update. The updates will be applied over the entire month of April. If you want to enable the April 2019 features before the update reaches your region, you can “enable” the updates yourself by opting in to the preview between February 1, 2019, and the date your region will be scheduled to have the features turned on. In coming months, we will publish the specific schedule for when the April 2019 features will be enabled for each region.

How do I prepare for the April 2019 update?

The flow chart below shows the steps needed to enable the April 2019 release to your Production environment prior to it being enabled by default in April 2019. The table below the flow chart provides information about the steps.

1

Have a Sandbox environment as a copy for the Production environment 

We strongly recommend enabling the April 2019 release first in a Sandbox environment which is a replica or copy of the existing Production environment. This is to make sure that a customer has validated the updates in another environment prior to impacting the current Production apps and environment.

Also, once April 2019 updates are enabled for an environment, they cannot be turned off like any other setting. Learn more about it in #3 below.

Create a copy of the Production environment into a Sandbox environment

If you don’t have a Sandbox copy of your Production environment, you can create a copy in the Dynamics 365 admin center

Create a backup of the Production environment

For restoration, if needed.

2

Enable the April 2019 opt-in from the Power platform Admin center

Starting February 1, 2019,  you will be able to enable the April 2019 release for the environment. This option will be available in Environment > Settings > Previews and updates. Once enabled for an environment, you cannot turn this off for the environment. To remove the April 2019 updates for your environment, you will have to either reset the environment or restore the environment to a previously backed up version. We do not recommend doing any of those options unless necessary. It’s important to try the April 2019 updates in your Sandbox environment first prior to enabling it in your Production environment.

3

Any Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement apps installed on the environment?

If you have any Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement apps on your environment like Sales, Service and Marketing, then they need to be explicitly upgraded to the April 2019 version.

4

Update the applications from Dynamics 365 admin center

Once you have enabled the April 2019 updates for your environment, you can update your apps from Dynamics 365 admin center > Applications. For example, if you have the Dynamics 365 for Sales application installed on your environment, then the option to Upgrade will be visible in the admin center. Please note that upgrading the app might take a few hours and you might see a downtime for your applications going through the update process.

5

We recommend testing out all the scenarios exhaustively in this step.

If you have any Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement apps in your environment like Sales, Service and Marketing, then they need to be explicitly upgraded to the April 2019 version.

6 & 7

Report any issues found 

As you verify the experience in your preview environment, if you find any regressions, functional, or performance issues related to the April 2019 updates that could impact your business, report them to Microsoft by opening a support ticket or through the Dynamics 365 forum.

8

Enable the April 2019 updates in your Sandbox environment

You should:
a. Update customizations to leverage or respond to new capabilities.
b. Update internal readiness materials based on new features or UX.
c. Prepare internal change management to run in April (training, communications, etc.)

9

Enable the April 2019 updates in your Production environment

We recommend enabling these updates during business downtime after you have validated your key scenarios are working as expected. Please note, once the April 2019 update is enabled this cannot be reversed. However, you can restore to a prior backup version of the updated environment if needed.

 

Manas Maheshwari
Senior Program Manager
Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement

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