How to: SharePoint Server Subscription Edition Updates

/ Andreas Glaser

This article shows how you can update SharePoint Server Subscription Edition using Cumulative Updates. The information in this document don’t apply to SharePoint 2013 or earlier versions.

Install SharePoint Server Subscription Edition - The Complete E-Book:

Before we get started...

This E-Book explains the update process for SharePoint Server Subscription Edition in a simplified but comprehensive way.

There is lots of great information out there but often located at many different places: TechNet, Videos, Blogs or even comments in blog posts. It takes time to find them and bring them in the right relation to each other.


You can easily miss important steps in your update process. My goal is to give you an easy way to get started.


All information is linked with resources if you need additional, more detailed explanations.


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1. Overview

There are 3 important types of updates [1]:

  • Service Packs
  • Cumulative Update
  • Public Updates and
  • Feature Updates

The naming varies across different resources and the term "Cumulative Updates", which is known from SharePoint 2013, has been replaced by "Public Updates" if you read Microsoft’s documentation.

Stefan Goßner still uses the term Cumulative Updates and if you read his blog it becomes clear that there is a difference between the updates which are released.




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1.1 Service Packs

Service Packs include older Service Packs, Cumulative Updates, Public Updates and new fixes or features.

Microsoft didn’t release Service Packs for SharePoint 2016 to "ensure that customers are running a build that contains fixes for the most common issues".

Microsoft has no plans to release Service Packs for SharePoint Server Subscription Edition so you should install Cumulative Updates and Public Updates instead. [5]

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1.2 Cumulative Updates

SharePoint Server Subscription Edition Cumulative Updates
What is it?

It’s a rollup update which means that the newest CU includes new fixes and all previous fixes (CUs as well as Public Updates) that were released after a major version e.g. RTM or SP1.

Microsoft uses the name Public Update for this rollup update but the name Cumulative Update makes more sense.

Time of release

Cumulative Updates are released every month.

Do I need it?

Yes! Usually you install them:

  • At least every year so you are eligible for Microsoft’s product support (read more at section 1.5 Product Support Limitations).
  • If the CU fixes a specific problem you have.
  • If the CU enables support of newly released software e.g. a new major version of SQL Server.
Requirements

Usually you need to have the latest Service Pack installed (if available) to install the newest CU.

Download

Starting in March 2023, you will only need to download one file. Previously, you had to download two files: a "language-independent" file and a "language-dependent" file. Both will now be combined into a single "uber" patch.

You only need to download the update once(!) in a language you select on the download page. Just choose a language that you can read. The download will include every language that SharePoint Server SE offers.

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1.3 Public Updates

Some of the Cumulative Updates mentioned in the previous section contain security fixes. When a CU contains a security fix, it is made available through Windows Update:

SharePoint Server Subscription Edition Public Updates via Windows Update


SharePoint Server Subscription Edition Public Updates
What is it?

A public update is the same as a Cumulative Update. The only difference is that it is made available through Windows Update.

So, does it make sense to talk about CUs and PUs?

Because it is the files... and because TechNet only uses the term Public Update for all updates. It is up to you but in my opinion it makes sense:

  • The word cumulative better matches its content, a monthly rollup update. You can skip it if you don’t need it.
  • The word public better matches an update offered through Windows Update, which includes a security fix.
Time of release

All information from the previous section about Cumulative Updates applies..

Do I need it?

All information from the previous section about Cumulative Updates applies.

Requirements

All information from the previous section about Cumulative Updates applies.

Download

Via Windows Update.


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1.4 Feature Updates

SharePoint Server Subscription Edition is the last major release. New features are added through Feature Updates that are released twice a year.

Learn more about Feature Updates and Release Rings.

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1.5 Updates you need

The following updates are available to date (April 2024):

SharePoint Server Subscription Edition Updates
Date Cumulative Update Public Update via Windows Update
2024
April Available Available
March (24H1) Available Available
February Available -
January Available Available
2023
December Available -
November Available Available
October Available -
September (23H2) Available Available
August Available Available
July Available Available
June Available Available
May Available Available
April Available Available
March (23H1) Available Available
February Available Available
January Available Available
2022
December Available Available
November Available Available
October Available Available
September (22H2) Available Available
August Available -
July Available -
June Available Available
May Available Available
April Available Available
March Available -
February Available Available
January Available Available
2021
December Available Available

If you installed SharePoint Server SE RTM you need to install April 2024 Cumulative or April 2024 Public Update:

  • The Cumulative Update equals the Public Update offered through Windows Update.
  • You have the newest security fixes.
  • You have the newest SharePoint features.
  • While SharePoint Server SE RTM has reached its support end date, SharePoint Server SE with April 2024 CU will be supported another year.

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1.5 Product Limitations


SharePoint Server Subscription Edition Support End Date
SharePoint Server Subscription Edition Support End Date
RTM (16.0.14326.20450) December 12, 2023
December 2021 CU - December 2022 CU December 12, 2023
January 2023 CU January 9, 2024
February 2023 CU February 13, 2024
March 2023 CU March 13, 2024
April 2023 CU April 9, 2024
...
April 2024 CU April 8, 2025
Future CUs Release Date + 1 Year (second Tuesday of the Month)

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1.6 What's my Patch Level?

I wrote in a previous section that "different components of SharePoint server can have different patch levels". But how do you reliably get the patch level of your SharePoint farm?

Stefan Goßner has a very detailed article [8] about all the different version numbers you can find in SharePoint.


There is only one reliable way to know the correct patch level of your SharePoint environment:

  • Info retrieved from: ServerVerionInformation table in config database
  • Info updated by: Patch Install
  • Updated by all patches: Yes
  • Version number same as KB article: Yes
  • Reliably shows patch installation: Yes


Go to: Central Administration > Upgrade and Migration > Check product and patch installation status

SharePoint Server Subscription Edition current patch level via Central Administration



Patch Level Example

If you install April 2024 Public Update through Windows Update on SharePoint Server SE RTM, you’ll have the following patch level:

SharePoint Server Subscription Edition current patch level via Central Administration

As you can see in the image above, the April 2024 Public Update:

  • Updates 2 components of SharePoint at the same time
  • Equals the Cumulative Update (because the CU contains a security fix, it was offered as a Public Update through Windows Update)

Before March 2023, you had to download 2 files to update each component of SharePoint. Depending on which file contained a security fix, you could end up with different patch levels. The image below shows a supported scenario where the Language Pack component had a patch level of January 2022 and the Core component had a patch level of February 2022:

SharePoint Server Subscription Edition current patch level via Central Administration

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2 Requirements

If you didn't successfully install SharePoint Server Subscription Edition please do this first.


2.1 Hardware Requirements

Please make sure that you meet SharePoint Server Subscription Edition hardware and software requirements [9] and that you run SharePoint servers with enough available hard disk space and RAM.

 

2.2 Account Requirements

Before you update SharePoint, you need to make sure you use an account that meets the following requirements [10]:

  • securityadmin fixed server role on the SQL Server instance
  • db_owner fixed database role on all databases that are to be updated
  • Local administrator on the server on which you run Windows PowerShell cmdlets

Usually the SharePoint Setup Administrator meets these requirements. It’s the account you used to install and configure SharePoint in the first place.

 

2.3 Update Requirements

Make sure that:

  • All farm servers are operating properly.
  • All databases are active and operating properly.

 

2.4 Zero-Downtime Requirements

If you want zero downtime during your update you need to make sure that:

  • All web servers are load balanced together and are in rotation with the load balancer.
  • You use redundant servers for each role in your SharePoint farm.

You don’t need to use the MinRole feature but you need to make sure your servers and all your services are highly available.

Here is an example [11] if you use the MinRole feature:

SharePoint Server Subscription Edition update scenario and example

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Install SharePoint Server Subscription Edition - The Complete E-Book:

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