After the failed release of Windows 10 version 1809 and circus that followed, it was nice to read in a post to the official Windows blog that the Release Preview ring is back. Not only is it back, it will be prolonged. In the past, a new feature upgrade would go to Release Preview Insiders only days before a General Availability release and was skipped altogether for 1809, as Brandon LeBlanc’s tweet told on October 2, 2018:
No, 1809 is GA today. And 1809 is also going to Release Preview today. Some good details on 1809 GA here: https://t.co/nXGgHT8Axa
— Brandon LeBlanc (@brandonleblanc) October 2, 2018
Under the “pimped” system, starting with 19H1 Release Preview ring users will get it earlier. Release Preview Insiders will get 19H1 next week, a month to two months before the GA release happens.
And in fact, the day after the blog post cited above, in another post Microsoft explained that the return of the Release Preview is not the only change to the Windows Insider program. Other changes will impact how feature upgrades and pre-release builds are made available.
In the future, only those in the Insider Slow and Release Preview rings will get preview builds for the next feature upgrade. Fast ring Insiders will skip one feature upgrade: they will get pre-release builds for the prospective build after that, scheduled for release a year away. Here’s a quote from the Insider team:
With the Windows 10 May 2019 Update being shared to the Release Preview ring soon, we’re planning to move Windows Insiders in the Fast ring forward to 20H1. We will also be merging the small group of Insiders who opted-in to Skip Ahead back into the Fast ring.
All Insiders should take action now. If you want to continue in what was until now called Fast ring, to receive preview builds for next feature upgrade 19H2 (1909), you must switch to the Slow ring. Notice that you will most probably get less preview builds than previously in the Fast ring. If you do continue in the Fast ring, you will get preview builds for the first feature upgrade in 2020 — namely, version 20H1.
Those who wish to remain in the Fast ring can expect more and buggier builds in the beginning. That’s because the first Fast ring pre-release builds come a year before the corresponding feature upgrade release. The important thing to remember is that if you remain in the Fast ring after next week, you will no longer have the option to switch to the Slow ring or to leave the Insider program. To get Slow ring builds or leave the Insider program and return to current GA release, you must clean install Windows 10. This is only logical, because downgrading Windows is not possible.
I welcome all these changes. After the 1809 fiasco, I am sure there were many heated meetings behind closed doors in Redmond. We have already noticed that afterwards, the Insider team and its senior members cleaned their social media accounts when 1809 was pulled back. And lately, there have been far fewer ninja cat and taco hat jokes. Dona Sarkar is still hustling, but that’s just Dona.
Author: Kari Finn
A former Windows Insider MVP, Kari started in computing in the mid 80’s writing code for VAX / VMS systems. Since then, he’s worked in a variety of IT positions. He specializes in Windows image capture, customization, repair and deployment as well as Hyper-V virtualization. Kari is a proud Team Member at number #1 Windows site TenForums.com.