Believe it or not, the new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge browser has grown by 1,300 percent in the past year. One of the contributing reasons to its popularity surge is the perpetual release of innovation that Microsoft unveils on a regular basis in the form of feature updates. At the same time, Microsoft is aware that many enterprises want to have some degree of control over how often these new features are distributed to their users.
- Stable Channel
- Beta Channel
- Dev Channel
- Canary Channel
The Canary Channel puts you on the bleeding edge, providing you with the newest innovations as quickly as possible. At the top of the chain is the Stable Channel which is best suited for production environment and intended for broad deployment throughout your organization. Microsoft has traditionally released feature updates every 6 weeks for the Stable Channel and Beta Chanel. Microsoft is making some changes however starting with Microsoft Edge 94., which is currently scheduled to be released for the Beta Channel beginning the first week of September. Those using the Stable Channel will have to wait until the week of September 23. You can see the complete Microsoft Edge release schedule here.
Starting with Microsoft Edge 94, Microsoft is switching to a 4-week release cycle. Part of this is in reaction to Google’s announcement to do the same thing for Chrome version 96 in the fourth quarter of 2021. Another reason though is to feed the insatiable appetite that users have for new innovative features. This of course is what agile software development is all about. Microsoft knows however that not every enterprise is ready to adapt to a shortened release window. For organizations that want to move more cautiously, Microsoft will bring a new release channel called “Extended Stable” which will provide a longer 8-week release timeline. Like the current channels, admins can opt-in to this channel using either Group Policy or Microsoft Endpoint Manager. If you don’t create a policy for the new channel, Microsoft Edge will default to the 4-week release cycle.
Those who go with the 8-week Extended Stable release option will receive cumulative feature updates aligned with even-numbered releases. Any feature updates of an odd-numbered release will be then delivered as part of the subsequent numbered release. Microsoft will continue to provide Assisted Support for the three most recent Stable Channel releases that equates to approximately 12 weeks. Assisted Support will be available for the two most recent Extended Stable channel releases which equates to 16 weeks. For more information you can refer to the Microsoft Edge Lifecycle Policy.
Keep in mind that security patches and fixes operate independently and will continue to be deployed as needed. If you don’t use Windows Update for Business to manage updates, you can always download Microsoft Edge updates using Windows Services Update Server (WSUS).