Windows 11 is getting a major new feature update sometime this month, and Microsoft is taking the opportunity to make some changes to the Windows Insider public beta program. The company outlined its plans in a blog post, along with a new logo (it looks like people but also hearts, neat).
Microsoft’s plans will primarily affect the Dev Channel, which will be “a place to incubate new ideas,” but more importantly, will be a place where Microsoft tests competing versions of features to see which ones get the best response. gets. Some features will make it to the consumer version of Windows soon, others will eventually make it, and some may disappear never to be seen or heard of again.
For context, the Insider Preview program has three channels, each representing a different stage of Windows development. The Dev channel is regularly updated and provides examples of not-always stable, not-always-finished versions of new fixes and features, some of which are discovered by third-party developers before Microsoft is ready to talk about them. The Beta channel is where near-final versions of features are tested before being modified for public release, and the Release Preview channel generally gets the exact same builds of Windows that are released to the general public a few days or weeks before. .
The company stresses that the beta and dev channels will be “parallel active development branches, but looking at different things,” and so Windows features may actually appear in the beta channel before reaching the dev channel. For current Dev channel users who prefer to be on the beta track in the future, Microsoft will offer a discount on channel changers before the builds are completely broken down. After this, the switch becomes more difficult and Windows may need to be completely reinstalled.
Whether this one change for the Windows Insider Program, that depends on the era of the Insider Program you’re comparing it to. More recently, especially during the Windows 11 development cycle, the Dev channel was mostly a pre-beta channel, updated more often than Beta, but mainly used for testing features that would eventually come to the public more or less intact. But in the early days of Windows 10, the Dev Channel was often used to test features that never made it to the public version of Windows or that were significantly slowed down or changed.
So the Insider program doesn’t change so much, but returns to how it used to be. But Microsoft says more people are using the preview builds of Windows 11 than the Windows 10 versions, so it’s worth reiterating each channel’s original intended purpose for those who weren’t there at the start of the Windows. -as-a-service era.