The Windows Insider program, which launched 9 years ago in 2014, was first used to gain early public feedback on the final stages of the development of Windows 10, is currently undergoing a huge restructure in terms of how testing will be carried out with Windows Insiders including a new “Canary Channel” for testers who want to be at the very forefront of trying the newest Windows features.
Why the changes? Well, Microsoft now update Windows 11 a little at a time (though moment updates). These will consist of collections of quality and feature updates that will be bundled together and released a few times a year. More extensive changes (those which update the kernel and core underlying OS) will be confined to annual “feature updates”. This is expected to now be the foundation for future changes to Windows.
This blog summarises the key changes. For the verbose version, checkout the official Windows Insider Blog
The “new” Insider Rings
The existing “Dev” channel, will soon (this month) be renamed to the “Canary” channel in which the newest and more experimental changes and features will be showcased for feedback.
The Canary channel will enable Windows Insiders to gain the earliest access to new builds with minimal validation and little. This build will not be recommended for daily drivers as users are likley to be testing builds that could be unstable, not working correctly and less tested that’ll those in the current Dev Channel.
These will be builds in the 25000 series.
The Dev Channel
The new “Dev Channel” will now be a half way house between the existing Dev and Beta channels. Insiders in this channel will continue to be able to test early features that may never make it to the stable version (release) of the Windows operating system. They will be better tested, will have the level of documentation and build notes that Insiders have become accustomed too and will be more stable.t
These will be builds in the 23000 series.
Beta and Release Channels
The Beta and Release Preview channels are not currently being changes. The Beta channel will remain more stable than the Dev channel, and Microsoft say that features in this build are likely to make it into future final release builds of Windows.
Beta builds will be in the 22000 series.
Getting on the right Channel
The restructuring of the Windows Insider Channels will require some choices to be made.
Anyone / any device currently on the Dev channel will be automatically moved to the Canary channel, where they will continue to receive Windows updates with build numbers in the 25000s range. These will be less stable that the current Dev channel.
Anyone wanting to move to the new Dev channel (to obtain the 23000 series builds) will require to initiate a clean build (rebuild) of their device and to then re-enrol their device on the new Dev Channel.
Users on the Beta and Release Preview channel will not need to do anything thought they will be able to move to the new Dev channel without needing to reinstall the OS.