This blog is part of a series on Teams. For more articles, check back often

Written: 18/07/2021 | Updated: N/A

Last year I did a blog on enabling public preview for Microsoft Teams. In all fairness it was a few very straightforward steps insofar as going into the Teams Admin Centre, setting the update policy; then enabling the preview in the Teams desktop client for users scoped within that policy. Not a big deal in terms of effort to get great functionality like native Windows notifications, or Dynamic View, or Chat Bubbles, or Paging on Large Gallery in order to test them out before they went GA. To follow on from this Microsoft have now released the ability to align Microsoft Teams Preview to the Office Current Channel Preview. In other words, a Teams Service or Global Admin can set it so only users with the Office Current Channel Preview (A channel to preview new functionality after Beta but before Current Channel which is the first channel in General Availability) can access the Teams Public Preview. This makes a lot of sense for both administrators and testers because it means testing is aligned and the tester has the same level of insider access across the services. From the admin specifically – less management; less bother; the user or users on Teams Preview are likely to be one and the same on the Office Preview right? So let’s check it out and apply it.

This blog will cover

  • Confirming Office Version and Changing Version
  • Alternative ways to change channel
  • Setting the Teams Update Policy – Global Org Wide Policy
  • Setting the Teams Update Policy – Custom Policy
  • Resolving the Preview for those not on the Current Channel (Preview)

Note this blog will have abridged steps which will assume some experience with Teams, Azure AD and navigating the Microsoft 365 environment

Pre-requisites

  • Microsoft 365 Apps (In an Office/Microsoft 365 Subscription)
  • Teams Licence (In an Office/Microsoft 365 Subscription)
  • Teams Service Administrator or Global Administrator Permissions for policy changes
  • Local admin permissions for PowerShell

CONFIRMING OFFICE VERSION AND CHANGING VERSION

The channel which is required for Office to be able to sync is the Current Channel (Preview)

1.) We need to check via an Office App. Let’s use PowerPoint in this example. Select File

2.) Select Account from the left navigation

3.) You can identify the channel in the section About PowerPoint. If yours in the Current Channel Preview then congratulations you can move onto configuring the Teams Update Policy. However, as shown here this is the wrong channel. We need to be in Current Channel Preview, not Current Channel.

4.) How do we change this? In the search bar search for and select Command Prompt and then Run as administrator

5.) Type cd C:Program FilesCommon FilesMicrosoft SharedClickToRun then enter

6.) Type OfficeC2RClient.exe /changesetting Channel=CurrentPreview then enter

7.) Type OfficeC2RClient.exe /update user then enter

8.) Office will then update

9.) Go back into an Office Application (in this case PowerPoint), select File and then Account and check on the channel which should have changed to Current Channel (Preview)

ALTERNATIVE WAYS TO CHANGE CHANNEL

Although this has just shown how to change a users Office channel via PowerShell there are other ways to do this depending on your configuration

1.) Microsoft 365 Admin Centre: set the users to Current Channel within Org Settings > Office Installation Settings and then onto Targeted via Org Settings > Organisation Profile > Release Preferences. This will set the users on Current Channel (Preview)

2.) Via Office Deployment Tool (ODT) or Group Policy deployed via Intune or Config Manager. See here to get started

SETTING UP THE TEAMS UPDATE POLICY – GLOBAL ORG WIDE POLICY

This is if you want to set up all users for preview to follow Office Preview

1.) Log into https://login.microsoftonline.com and select Admin

2.) In the Microsoft 365 Admin Centre navigation select Show All then select Teams

3.) In the Teams Admin Centre select Teams and then Update Policies

4.) Select Global (Org Wide Default)

5.) Follow Office Preview should already be applied as Microsoft documentation has stated that it would be set as default. If for any reason it isn’t here, set as Follow Office Preview and then Apply. This may take several hours to update

6.) Once updated, users who are in the Current Channel (Preview) will be able to access the Teams preview via selecting More Options (…) then About then Public Preview. They may need to restart their desktop client to see this option

SETTING UP THE TEAMS UPDATE POLICY – CUSTOM POLICY

We can set this for all users – but what about a select few? Chances are we won’t have all users on the Current Channel Preview, so we need to apply it to some not all. We therefore create a Custom Policy

1.) In the Teams Admin Centre, set the Global (Org Wide Default) to Not Enabled then Apply. This is good practice if most in the organisation will not use the Teams preview

2.) Return to Update Policies on the left navigation and then select Add

3.) Set a Name for the new policy, set Follow Office Updates then Apply

4.) Select Users from the left navigation

5.) Select the required users then Edit Settings. Amend the Update Policy and then Apply. This update may take several hours depending on propagation and the users may have to restart Teams to be able to enter public preview. Same method in the desktop client as illustrated above. To note that the application of this update policy shown here is via batch, however it can also be applied direct to individuals and via policy packages. PowerShell also supports New-CsGroupPolicyAssignment meaning that Group Policy does work it’s just not there yet in the TAC

RESOLVING THE PUBLIC PREVIEW FOR THOSE NOT ON THE CURRENT CHANNEL

Since Microsoft are applying Follow Office Preview by default, then this could knock out the preview for those who previously had access but do not have the Current Channel (Preview) in Office. If this is the case there are a few ways around it depending on your scenario

1.) Put the users who lost access into the Current Channel (Preview) in Office via one of the methods above

2.) Set the update policy to Enabled then select Apply

I would personally recommended setup is

  • Global (Org Wide Default): Not Enabled
  • Users with Current Channel: Custom Update Policy with Follow Office Preview
  • Users on Other Channels: Custom Update Policy with Enabled

Our job here is done! We’ve synced up the Office Channel and the Teams Update Policy for the users we want who can test Office and Teams to their hearts content. We’ll get loads of great feedback we need, without any worry that the two will become out of sync. A real win-win situation for all of us!

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