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Building off the Windows 11 momentum Panos shared last week, we want to take a moment and share a little bit on what’s coming for the Windows Insider Program in 2022.
It has truly been incredible to see the interest in the program grow since announcing Windows 11 last June. We have more people running preview builds of Windows 11 than we did Windows 10, and we are energized by all the feedback we’re seeing from Insiders and excited to use those insights to make Windows 11 even better for our customers. To accomplish this, we have been evolving the way we develop and release to Insiders with more emphasis on trying out different concepts with our features and services.
As part of this ongoing evolution, Insiders will see us lean more heavily on the Dev Channel as a place to incubate new ideas, work on long lead items, and control the states of individual features. This allows us to experiment in a few ways by rolling features in stages to monitor quality and your feedback (which we’ve been doing a lot of already) and testing variations of features (often referred to as “A/B testing”). Features and experiences from these builds could show up in future Windows releases when they’re ready. In some cases, these concepts will never ship, but by experimenting more, we can better refine experiences, and deliver solutions in Windows that truly empower our customers to achieve more.
We will continue to document new features as they roll out in Insider builds through our flight blog posts but won’t document all the variations of features that we might be trying out in these builds. We also recognize that some of our more technical Insiders have discovered that some features are intentionally disabled in the builds we have flighted. This is by design, and in those cases, we will only communicate about features that we are purposefully enabling for Insiders to try out and give feedback on.
To make the most out of your Insider experience, folks should think of Dev and Beta Channels as parallel active development branches but previewing different things.
- The Dev Channel will be for long lead work from our engineers with features and experiences that may never get released as we try out different concepts and get feedback. It is important to remember that the builds we release to the Dev Channel should not be seen as matched to any specific release of Windows and the features included may change over time, be removed, or replaced in Insider builds or may never be released beyond Windows Insiders to general customers.
- The Beta Channel will be previewing experiences that are closer to what we will ship to our general customers. Because the Dev and Beta Channels represent parallel development paths from our engineers, there may be cases where features and experiences show up in the Beta Channel first.
- We will deliver updates to features and experiences in builds from the Dev and Beta Channels by releasing Feature, Web, and Online Service Experience Packs on top of these builds too.
- The Release Preview Channel remains the best spot for previewing what’s coming to general customers soon
Now’s a good time to start thinking about what Channel is best for you. We will soon be giving Insiders a window in which they will be able to switch from the Dev Channel to the Beta Channel. Stay tuned for details in the coming weeks.
On a final note – I am super excited to unveil the new icon of the Windows Insider Program, which represents the community of people who love and help shape the future of Windows, across all our 3 Insider Channels: Dev, Beta and Release Preview.
Insiders in the Dev Channel will soon see this icon showing up under Settings > Windows Update > Windows Insider Program. The icon will also be showing up in emails and other areas too!
It has been great to see the community grow with Windows 11, and we’re excited about what’s next!