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Microsoft 365 apps can now update overnight, even if left open

Microsoft Office
(Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft 365 apps can now perform an update while a machine is in idle or locked mode, even if the applications are left running.
  • The capability is known as "update under lock," and it uses Microsoft's Click-To-Run technology.
  • Office apps will find a safe time to update and implement the changes in a process that takes roughly four seconds.

Microsoft 365 apps, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, can now perform updates while a system is idle or locked. The new feature is called "update under lock," and it utilizes Microsoft's Click-To-Run technology. When enabled, update under lock will find a safe time to shut down an app, perform an update, and then restore closed apps to their previous state.

Microsoft shares an example of when the new feature could be useful in a Tech Community post (opens in new tab)

"A common scenario is for users to leave apps open on their device for extended periods of time. For example, if a user is working on a Word document at the end of the day, they may leave the document open and lock the device intending to continue working on it the next day. When users leave their documents open in this manner, it prevents Office from applying updates. With this feature, the user will come back to a machine in its previous state, but they will be running the latest bits." 

Update under lock will not shut down an app when it's unsafe to do so, such as when a macro is running or the document has unsaved changes. 

The following Windows devices will be affected by the change:

Windows devices only for

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

All devices, regardless of update endpoint, that are receiving 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)
Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).