Microsoft details what to expect from the Windows Insider Program this year

Laurent Giret

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If the Windows Insider team won’t have a new Dev Channel build ready until next week, Amanda Langowski, the head of the Windows Insider Program penned a long blog post to detail what to expect from the program in 2022. First of all, the program has a brand new icon you can see in the feature image above, and it will appear soon in Windows 11 Dev Channel builds, emails, and other places.

As Langowski explained today, the Windows Insider Dev, and Beta, and Release Preview channels are here to stay, and the Dev Channel will remain the place where Insiders see new features that may or may not ship to all Windows 11 users when they’re fully baked. “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,” Langowski explained.

The Windows Insider team will continue to use A/B testing when introducing new features on the Dev Channel, and Langowski also acknowledged that some builds ship with hidden features that are disabled on purpose. “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,” wrote the Windows Insider chief.

The Windows Insider team really wants Insiders to keep in mind that builds coming to the Dev Channel are not matched to a specific release, and some of the new features seen in these builds may never see the light of day. The Beta Channel, however, will continue to provide a more accurate picture of what to expect from the next Windows 11 update. “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,” Langowski also emphasized.

The Windows Insider chief also highlighted that the Windows Insider team doesn’t necessarily need Dev and Beta Channel Insiders to install new builds to give them access new features: These new experiences can also be introduced via Feature, Web, and Online Service Experience Packs, which are downloaded via Windows Update and don’t require a reboot.

As of today, Windows Insiders on the Dev Channel can’t switch to another channel without doing a clean install, but Microsoft will make it possible for a limited time in the coming weeks. “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,” Langowski said today.

Lastly, if you’re on the Release Preview Channel, nothing is going to change for you. “The Release Preview Channel remains the best spot for previewing what’s coming to general customers soon,” explained Langowski. Microsoft still uses this channel to release new builds for Windows 10, in addition to Windows 11. “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,” Langowski said today.