Microsoft 365 now auto-updates apps on locked or idle devices

Microsoft 365

Microsoft says customers will see fewer Microsoft 365 update notifications because Office apps will update automatically while their computers are locked or idle.

This new feature is known as “update under lock,” and it uses Click-To-Run delivery technology that makes the update process faster and more secure.

“Microsoft has developed an optimization that applies a pending Microsoft 365 Apps update while a machine is in idle or locked mode, even if apps are running,” said Julia Lieberman, a product manager at Microsoft.

“Update under lock helps you reach compliance within your timeframes without disrupting your internal users, and potentially reduces the need for abrupt forced updates, making updates more reliable by saving app state before closing.”

Before initiating an Office app update, the new feature will ensure that the app is safe to shut down (if it isn’t running any tasks in the background like macros and if all changes are saved).

After closing the application, the pending update is applied, and the app is restored to its previous state, all within roughly 4 seconds.

If apps that need an update cannot be shut down safely, the Office updates will be applied normally, with the users being notified the next time they’re using the system.

This new update mechanism will be used to keep Microsoft 365 Apps up-to-date on Windows devices for:

  • Microsoft 365 subscriptions, Visio, and Project, but not Microsoft Teams, which has its own update process
  • Retail consumer/perpetual Office 2016, 2019, and 2021

It also applies to all other devices configured to receive updates from:

  • Current Channel: Version 2109 or later
  • Monthly Enterprise Channel: Version 2112 or later
  • Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel (Preview): Version 2202 or later
  • Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel: Version 2208 or later (coming Jan 2023)

“There are no admin controls for this feature. Microsoft is always optimizing your updates experience, and this thoroughly tested feature lives under the hood to make your life easier,” Lieberman added.

In July, Microsoft also announced the general availability of Windows Autopatch, an enterprise service that automatically keeps Windows and Microsoft 365 software up to date.

This new service manages the automatic deployment of Windows 10 and 11 quality and feature updates, as well as driver, firmware, and Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise updates.

Redmond also said that a new Windows Update for Business deployment service for drivers and firmware will soon be available in public preview, with a platform public preview expected to start in December 2022 and an Intune public preview estimated around March 2023.