OK, then: here we go. Just yesterday afternoon (June 29) I noticed that Microsoft had updated the names of the Windows Insider levels to reflect its new Channel terminology. As you can see from the lead-in screenshot, I picked one of my Release Preview Channel test machines from which to capture that image. But one can also choose the Developer (Dev) or Beta Test (Beta) Channel instead. I’d been wondering when this change, announced on June 15, would make its way into the Windows Update screens. Now we know that anyone who wants to join the Insider program (or change their current enrollment) can do so using the new terminology. Let the games begin!
Which Channel Is Right for You?
For most users (and businesses or organizations with IT departments or equivalent), no Insider Channel makes sense for end-user production PCs. (Note: I can’t help but take a poke at our own Kari, who runs the Dev Channel on all of his PCs. I hasten to add he’s got plenty of bootable VMs for other channels and the production builds, so he can change his runtime environment like a chameleon changes his color.)
The Windows Insider Program is really aimed at test machines. It exists to help enthusiasts and developers keep up with the bleeding edge of Windows development (Dev Channel), and to anticipate what to prepare for in the next planned Feature Upgrade (Beta Channel — that’s why it’s recommended). The Release Preview Channel is intended to provide an advance look at planned upcoming Cumulative Updates and Quality Updates. It aims at IT pros and Windows enthusiasts looking for advance intelligence about updates likely on their way into the latest currrent build (some Release Preview Channel updates may change or get pulled before they go into production, and that’s exactly what this channel is for).
I cheerfully confess I’ve been an Insider since Day 2 of the program. It was announced on September 30, 2014 and started on October 1, 2014. My join date is October 2, 2014. Kari is, of course, a member of the “First day of issue” club. We’ve been watching, working with, and digging into Windows 10 for nearly six years now. That anniversary date keeps looming ever closer, too…
Author: Ed Tittel
Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.