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Set your Office 2016 Update Channel with Registry Key or Group Policy

Update: for a quick way to do this with PowerShell see: http://tomtalks.uk/2017/01/set-officechannel-set-office-click-run-channel-powershell/

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As discussed in this post, Understanding Office Click-to-Run, Branches, MSI and Skype for Business Client Versions, Office 2016 Click to Run is released in 5 “Channels” (previously branches)

2 for normal users:

  • Current Channel (previously called Current) (Current)
  • Deferred Channel (previously Current Branch for Business) (Business)

And 2 for validation/testing:

  • Office Insider Fast (Insiderfast) – weekly builds, not generally supported
  • First Release Channel (FirstReleaseCurrent)  – the preview of the current branch, this is the “pre-release” of current
  • First Release for Deferred Channel (previously First Release for Current Branch for Business) (Validation) – the preview of the business branch

Current channel gets feature and security updates monthly, and is the default for Home installs

Deferred Channel (the default for enterprises) gets security updates monthly, but only gets feature updates every 4 months, giving businesses more time to assess the impact of any changes. There is also a branch for business to test the upcoming Deferred Channel, the catchily titled “First Release for Deferred Channel”

Office 365 “First Release” Channel (Office Insider Slow), is essentially a preview of the current channel, with build updates once or twice a month. Finally Office Insider Fast offers weekly unsupported builds with all the latest features

You can define the branch of an install at point of install with the Office Deployment Tool which uses an XML file to customise the install and optionally set the branch, for example, this XML sets the install to the Deferred Channel

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You can also choose your channel by setting a registry key and/or you can set you branch by GPO, including setting it by GPO on the local machine.

Note, changing the channel “down” for example from FirstReleaseCurrent to Current does not seem to cause office to “roll back” from the newer build to the current build for that branch.

Setting Office Click to Run Channel via the Registry

Here is the registry key to choose a channel (Thanks Kyle in the comments!)

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\office\16.0\common\officeupdate

Value name: updatebranch
Value type: REG_SZ

Set the value to:

  • Insiderfast (Office Insider Fast)
  • FirstReleaseCurrent (for First Release Branch/Office Insider Slow)
  • Current (for Current)
  • Validation (for First Release for Deferred Channel)
  • Business (for Deferred Channel)

Setting Office Click to Run Channel via Group Policy

Here is how to set it for a machine using a local GPO, i.e. it can be configured on the local machine with administrator access.

First, download the Office 2016 Administrative Template files (ADMX/ADML).

When you run it, it will extract the following files:

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  • Copy the .amdx files files from the admx folder to C:\Windows\PolicyDefinitions
  • Copy the ADML files the relevant language folder, e.g. en-us, to the relevant folder on your system e.g. C:\Windows\PolicyDefinitions\en-US

You technically only need office16.admx and office16.adml to set the branch

Do a gpupdate/force under CMD as an administrator

Run gpedit.msc and fine the Administrative Template for Office 2016 then Updates and set the Update Channel to one of the following, in order of most up to date to least

  • Insiderfast (Office Insider Fast)
  • FirstReleaseCurrent (for First Release Branch/Office Insider Slow)
  • Current (for Current)
  • Validation (for First Release for Deferred Channel)
  • Business (for Deferred Channel)

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After another gpupdate, my install previously on the Deferred Channel was ready for update

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About the author

Tom Arbuthnot

A Microsoft MVP and Microsoft Certified Master, Tom Arbuthnot is Principal Solutions Architect at Microsoft Collaboration specialists Modality Systems.

Tom stays up to date with industry developments and shares news and his opinions on his blog, Microsoft Teams Podcast and email list. He is a regular speaker at events around the world.

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Tom Talks Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365 Collaboration news and opinions