Rings Are Gone From The Windows Insider Program


Time now for another makeover of the Windows Insider Program! Microsoft has changed things over once again with its preview program, offering more clarity of how things will proceed moving forward.

Perfect timing too, as things have been a tad confusing ever since the Fast ring Insiders finished testing the Windows 10 May 2020 Update. When they started receiving new builds, Redmond was quick to note that these new previews were no longer tied to a specific version of the operating system.

Now we know why.

The simple reason being that rings are no more.

Microsoft is no longer using the term, and has instead replaced it with channels — similar to how things roll on the Edge Insider Program or the Office Insider Program.

Windows Insider Program Channels

Fast and Skip Ahead rings are moved to the new Dev Channel, Slow ring is now the Beta Channel, and Release Preview ring becomes the, you guessed it, Release Preview Channel. Pretty seamless as far as transitions go.

Amanda Langowski, the new Windows Insider chief, talked about this, saying:

“We are transitioning and converting our current ring model, based on the frequency of builds, to a new channel model that pivots on the quality of builds and better supports parallel coding efforts. Our goal is to not only make it clearer for existing Insiders to choose the experience that’s right for them, but also for new Insiders to pick the right channel as they join.”

So, basically, the target audience of the Windows Insider Program remains the same, but Microsoft is shifting its focus from frequency to quality from here on.

The one big difference in this new model is that the builds in the Dev Channel are not tied to any specific version of the operating system. That means that their features could end up in any future release. It is the Beta Channel where the builds will be matched to specific versions.

Speaking of which, Microsoft is currently finalizing Windows 10 Manganese, known as 20H2, while we have also had hints of the Iron set of features that will likely end up in the 21H1 release.

Oh, and if you are wondering whether you, as an Insider, need to do anything to reflect this shift, then the answer is no. Microsoft will automatically move you to the right channel automatically, and you are not required to take any action.

Redmond is currently recommending the Dev Channel for what it calls highly technical users, while early adopters and IT professionals are suggested the Beta Channel.

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