Microsoft moves from SharePoint Server Subscription Edition to a semi-annual update model
Microsoft this week announced changes to SharePoint Server Subscription Edition, including a move to a semi-annual “feature update” release model.
A so-called “ring” approach will also be used with these semi-annual feature updates. Microsoft also announced plans to release SharePoint Workflow Manager by the end of the year, replacing Microsoft Workflow Manager.
Semi-Annual Feature Updates
SharePoint Server Subscription Edition users benefit from a semi-annual feature update model. New feature updates will arrive twice a year, labeled “H1” and “H2”, and prefixed with the year. These feature updates will arrive with Microsoft’s Public Update and Cumulative Update cycles, which typically correspond to “Tuesday Update” quality and security patch releases.
The “22H2” feature update for SharePoint Server Subscription Edition is already released with the September 2022 SharePoint Public Update, the announcement explains.
Microsoft uses the term feature update to refer to new functionality in the SharePoint Server Subscription Edition product. The term can however have other meanings. For example, for Windows clients, a feature update release is a new operating system.
New features would arrive with a new product, such as SharePoint Server 2019. Microsoft, however, views SharePoint Server Subscription Edition as bringing new features more frequently through a “more agile approach,” explained Stefan Gossner, senior escalation engineer for SharePoint. , in this Microsoft blog post.
Launch of “Rings” feature
Microsoft plans to release feature updates for SharePoint Server Subscription Edition in two ways, using its so-called “feature release rings” approach. Organizations will be offered an “Early” version and a “Standard” version.
The early release was described as being available for testing, but it’s also here to “use new feature experiences in a production environment as soon as possible,” according to Microsoft’s “rings” document.
The standard version is Microsoft’s default version and has been described as “supported for production use”. A standard version is generally validated beforehand by an anticipated version.
IT pros can use “SharePoint Central Administration” to switch feature update deliveries between Standard and Early options.
New features in version 22H2
New features in version 22H2 of SharePoint Server Subscription Edition, released on September 13, are described in this document.
Only two features – feature release rings capability and a Windows Antimalware Scanning Interface (AMSI) integration capability – are available with the standard release this month.
AMSI integration was described as allowing “applications and services to integrate with any anti-malware product on a machine and examine incoming web requests to detect and block potentially malicious requests,” according to the announcement.
Other new 22H2 features are only available in the early release ring. They understand:
This last item represents a rebuild of ListData.svc “so that it no longer depends on legacy WCF Data Services components,” the announcement explains.
The new 22H2 features released this month represent some of the value to expect with SharePoint Server Subscription Edition.
“The above features mark the beginning of how we will continue to bring new value to SharePoint Server Subscription Edition through our updated release model, designed to bring new features every six months through these changes” , explained Bill Baer, senior product marketing manager at Microsoft. for SharePoint, in the announcement.
SharePoint Workflow Manager
Microsoft also announced that it will replace Microsoft Workflow Manager and Service Bus with a new SharePoint Workflow Manager.
A version of SharePoint Workflow Manager, designed for use only in SharePoint environments, is expected to be available “by the end of this year”.
The replacement for SharePoint Workflow Manager will also affect users of other SharePoint Server products.” SharePoint Workflow Manager will work with “SharePoint 2013, 2016, 2019, and Subscription Edition,” according to Microsoft’s Troy Starr in the comments section of the announcement. from Microsoft.
Microsoft will put its “future investment and maintenance on SharePoint Workflow Manager rather than Microsoft Workflow Manager,” Starr added.
There doesn’t seem to be much information posted about SharePoint Workflow Manager. The exact reason for this upcoming change has not been explained.
By SharePoint workflows, Microsoft refers to small applications used to automate business processes, as defined in this Microsoft support document. These SharePoint workflows “have been retired effective August 1, 2020 for new tenants and removed for existing tenants effective November 1, 2020,” the support article states.
However, there is an exception for SharePoint Server Subscription Edition users. Here’s how this “deprecated features” article describes it:
SharePoint 2010 Workflows are deprecated but will remain supported for the SharePoint Server Subscription Edition until July 14, 2026. After that date, SharePoint 2010 Workflows will no longer be supported. Microsoft recommends exploring SharePoint 2013 Workflows or Power Automate as potential alternatives to SharePoint 2010 Workflows.
SharePoint Server End of Support Warnings
Organizations using SharePoint Server 2013, SharePoint Server 2016, and SharePoint Server 2019 will receive notifications from Microsoft as they approach the end of support for their products.
“These versions of SharePoint will now show notifications in the Central Administration and SharePoint Management Shell experiences when the affected product is approaching its end of support date,” Baer said in the announcement.
At the top of the list will be SharePoint Server 2013, which will no longer be supported on April 11, 2023.
Microsoft provides SharePoint Server upgrade guidance in this document.
Subscription Edition Linked to Software Assurance
SharePoint Server Subscription Edition was released late last year and is now the only way for organizations to run SharePoint Server on their infrastructures in the future.
The SharePoint Server subscription edition follows Microsoft’s traditional licensing to some extent. For example, it has server license costs and client access license costs. However, to use it, organizations must also renew the mandatory Software Assurance installments annually.
The idea that the subscription edition is tied to Software Assurance annuity payments might not be so clear cut, but it’s explained by Starr in this Microsoft Tech Community article.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media’s Converge360 group.