The tech giant recently started pushing Microsoft 365 updates to locked and idle devices with opened applications. Applications are automatically closed to force updates.

Microsoft deployed the feature to all end users of Microsoft 365 licensees on September 12. Ever since, Microsoft 365 updates have been applied to locked and inactive devices. If the device happens to be running a Word document, Outlook email or Excel file, Microsoft takes the liberty of closing the application to force the update.

The tech giant promises to leave unsaved files alone. In the case of an unsaved file, the update is delayed until the user unlocks the device, closes the application and approves the update. Devices with active macros are exempt as well. “Apps will not shut down if it is not safe to do so”, Microsoft described in a blog.

Update under lock

The feature was dubbed ‘update under lock’. Prior to its release, Microsoft did not implement automatic updates for idle and locked devices with opened applications. “A common scenario is for users to work on a document at the end of the day, leave the document open and lock the device intending to continue working on it the next day”, the tech giant explained. “When users leave their documents open in this manner, it prevents Office from applying updates.”

According to Microsoft, such users are eventually flooded with numerous update notifications. Furthermore, IT administrators can run into trouble when an organization’s policy stipulates that Microsoft 365 updates must be implemented within days or weeks. According to the tech giant, the new feature offers a solution. ‘Update under lock’ has no management options. The feature is enabled for every end user, even if an administrator prefers it isn’t.

Massive change

The scale of the update is massive. In addition to Microsoft 365 licensees, Microsoft deployed the feature to end users of Visio, Project and the retail versions of Office 2016, 2019 and 2021.

Finally, ‘update under lock’ is active for all devices sourcing updates from the following channels: Current Channel (version 2109 or later), Monthy Enterprise Channel (version 2112 or later), Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel Preview (version 2202 or later) and Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel (version 2208 or later).

Tip: Windows Autopatch is available, alternative to Patch Tuesday