We’ve all had a busy summer and I hope you've explored the Summer ‘15 release and all its features. Now it's time to warm up to Winter '16.  Grab a cup of cocoa and start your planning.

August 20th — Pre-release will be available

Why do I need a pre-release org? Glad you asked! It’s a special environment that's upgraded even before Sandboxes, giving you new features weeks in advance of the release. It's not linked to your production org, so it won't have the same data or configuration and you can test without worrying about breaking anything.

"Sounds good, how do I get one?" Sign up here and you'll get an email with a login to a new test org.

Let’s look at the rest of the key dates for Winter ‘16 so you can mark your calendars:

Week of August 24th — Your ideas “Coming in Winter ‘16” on the Idea Exchange 

You will be able to see which of your ideas are coming in the next release. You can also check what’s going into pilot or beta in the next release.

August 27th — Release Notes available and the Release Site will be updated

Warm up to Winter '16. On August 27th we switch the Release Site and the Release Notes to the Winter ‘16 release. Also, check out the Winter ‘16 Release Preview or watch the Release Videos that demo the key new features. Don't forget that the Salesforce Release Notes now also come in HTML format so that you can read them on any mobile device and quickly find the sections you’re most interested in.

September 3rd — Join us as we discuss how to best manage new releases

How do you manage your release planning? Would you benefit from some best practices on the topic? Why not join us as we have a discussion about how to manage new releases.  Register for our New Releases: Mastering Your Readiness Strategy Webinar.

September 4th — Sandbox Cut Off

If you would like your Sandbox organization to take part in the Winter ‘16 Preview, your Sandbox must be active on a preview instance by September 11, 2015 to take part in an overall instance upgrade.

September 11 — Sandboxes upgraded

Check out our article about the Winter ‘16 Sandbox preview which gives you all the options if you want to take part in the Sandbox preview. Just like the pre-release program, the Sandbox preview gives you the opportunity to test new features without impacting your live environment. It also allows you to test new features in a way that matches your production environment.

September 25th — Our first release weekend

The first release weekend is when we here at Salesforce and any customers on NA1 get upgraded.

October 6th and 7th — Release Readiness Live broadcast

Our Product Management team will be back for Winter ‘16 discussing and demoing the new features live from our studio, so you'll see how those features work in real time. Full details on agenda and timings to come in September in Release Readiness & Feature Adoption.

October 9th — The second release weekend

This is when another set of instances — NA6, NA7, NA8, NA9, NA17, NA18, NA22, NA28, NA29, NA31, NA34, EU5 — gets upgraded. Check out our Trust page to see when you’ll be upgraded.  If you haven’t already, check out the new Trust site when you’re there — maintenance information is integrated into the individual instance pages for ease of use and the confirmed maintenance calendar looks 12 months forward.

October 16th and 17th — The final release weekend

All remaining Salesforce systems will be upgraded over this weekend. This is also the upgrade weekend for any Sandboxes you’ve opted not to include in the Sandbox preview.

Later in October — Release training available

At this stage, you probably already have your key features earmarked. Release training covers all the main features and is a great tool for getting your users up to speed on what’s new. The actual date will be announced in the Release Site.

You can get more information on pre-release sign up and other release-related topics by joining the Release Readiness & Feature Adoption group on our Success Community site.