One of our favourite features of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central is the automated updates. Not ones to ever fall behind when it comes to useability and new features, Dynamics 365 Business Central updates happen twice annually and unlike many other accounting and ERP systems, they don’t require any downtime since you can schedule the updates to take place outside of your usual operating hours.
Our blog post looks at how often Dynamics 365 Business Central updates happen, including timelines, and how you update Business Central. It includes key dates, actions you need take and answers some common questions.
How Often Do Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Updates Happen?
New features and capabilities roll out in release waves. These release waves can be either a major update and/or minor updates, which happen monthly.
Most capabilities are made available in major updates, but some become available in minor updates. Critical fixes roll out as soon as possible after they pass tests and have been verified in Microsoft’s protected staging environment.
Easily the greatest part about the updates, and something that surprises us about so many other accounting products, is that updates are continuous, touchless updates that provide new features and functionality. They eliminate the need to do expensive upgrades every few years.
Administrators can set a maintenance window for each environment that determines when Microsoft is allowed to update that environment – so no surprises when you log in one Monday morning! Microsoft then schedules updates of the business functionality to be applied during these maintenance windows, so you have complete control when it comes to rolling them out.
Microsoft applies updates to each environment based on your own personal configuration. The only exception is how Microsoft maintains the underlying platform with invisible updates during low traffic hours, for example.
Each new update is designed and developed by the Dynamics 365 team. Any new update is first validated by the feature team, then validated in combination with the full product. During this time, extensive testing is done on various test topologies. A compatibility checker also runs tests to ensure backward compatibility. So you can be safe in the knowledge that when updates do happen, there’ll be very limited chance of them being rolled back.
Below is an example of how Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central updates happen:
Timelines for major Business Central updates
The following figure illustrates the key milestones and dates for rolling out a major update. The dates are loosely based on 2021 release wave 1 and 2021 release wave 2. The same timeline applies to all other major updates, though dates will differ.
The following table describes the milestones with example dates for the two release waves in any given calendar year.
Timelines for minor Business Central updates
The monthly minor updates contain both application and platform changes that are critical improvements to the service, including regulatory updates.
A minor update will roll out across Azure regions over several days and weeks. When the update is available for a specific environment, admins can apply it manually from the Business Central administration center. If the update has not been applied to an environment by the specified last update date, Microsoft will auto-apply the update. Microsoft takes into account the update window for the environment.
The following table describes the milestones with example dates for a minor update in any given calendar year.
Tip: The minor updates tend to become available on the first Friday of any given month, except the months when a major update becomes available. Microsoft aims to update the last environments 2-3 weeks later.
How Do I Update My Dynamics 365 Business Central?
Business Central Update Availability
The major updates are typically made available twice a year, in April and in October. Minor updates roll out every month.
On the release day for any update, all new sign-ups and all newly created environments (sandbox and production), are directed to the new version. For existing environments that run on the previous version, updates are made available gradually across the supported regions over the coming days and weeks as indicated earlier in this article. It’s not possible to speed up this process for your environment through Microsoft Support.
Schedule Business Central Updates
When the update becomes available for your environment, a notification email is sent to all notification recipients that you’ve registered in Business Central administration center. A notification about the update availability is also shown in the Business Central administration center itself.
Starting this day, you can use the Business Central administration center to schedule the date when you prefer the update to happen.
The following fields on the environment page can help you plan the update:
When the scheduled update date arrives, the update runs automatically within the update window that you’ve specified for this environment. All users will be disconnected from this environment, and all attempts to sign in during the update will be blocked with the message Service is under maintenance.
Important: We strongly encourage that you set an update window for all production environments so that updates don’t start during business hours.
For more information, see Set the update window for each environment.
Delayed scheduling of Business Central updates
In some cases, even after the update is available in your area, you are still not be able to set the update date (schedule environment update). This condition can happen for one of the following reasons:
- Your environment hasn’t yet updated to the latest minor update of the previous version of Business Central. All environments must be updated to the last available minor update of the previous version of Business Central before they can be scheduled for the next major version. You can check the version information in the Troubleshooting section of the Help and Support page in Business Central and in the Version Management section in Business Central administration center. For more information, see Version numbers in Business Central.
Microsoft actively works on updating all environments to the latest minor update as soon as possible. In most cases, your environment will be scheduled for the major update soon. You’ll get a chance to change the date to the one that fits you better. In the unlikely situation that your environment is updated to the last minor update around or even after the last selectable update date, you’ll still get at least seven days to schedule the update.
- You’ve just created a new sandbox environment as a copy of your production environment. In this case, the sandbox environment is created on the same version as the production environment it was copied from. If your newly created sandbox environment is running on the last minor update of the previous version, Microsoft will schedule it for update automatically within one hour.
You’ll receive email notification and will see the notification in Business Central administration center when it happens. The scheduled update date for this environment will be set to seven days from the current date. This gives you enough time to change the date to one that fits you better, including the current date.
- Your per-tenant extensions aren’t compatible with the next major update.
Before a major update, Microsoft routinely checks per-tenant extensions in all existing environments for compatibility with the next major update. If we detect compatibility issues with the upcoming version, we send email notifications that describe the detected issues to the notification recipients. We warmly encourage all admins to review these emails and take action as soon as possible.
If you discover any such issues, apply the changes to your solution as usual using Visual Studio Code. Test the new app in a sandbox environment that runs on the new major version, either in preview or the official version. If tests complete successfully, upload the new app version into your production environment in the Extension Management page, setting the Deploy to field to Next major version. This way the compatible version of your app will be used when your environment is updated. For more information, see Deploying a Tenant Customization.
- The AppSource apps that are installed in your environment aren’t yet available for the next major version of Business Central.
While most AppSource apps are kept up to date by the app providers, a particular app might need more time to prepare for the next major update and isn’t yet available for it. In this situation, contact the app owner to understand their availability plans.