To answer the question in the title, I must tell you that no one knows for sure. Since we Fast Ring Insiders jumped a build to test preview versions of version 20H1, still a year away, the Slow Ring users who should be testing 19H2 have not seen a single build. At the same time, Fast ring has received 11 20H1 builds since mid-March, averaging about a build per week.
A month ago I wrote a speculative post about the future of the Windows Insider program, and its recent changes. One of my concerns was that the apparently slow pace in releasing Slow Ring builds (none yet, as I mentioned!) must mean that version 19H2 will not get many if any new features. I am still guessing it will be a kind of “service pack” release, only containing bug fixes. I was also wondering if this would be a new de facto standard, the H1 release every year being a real feature upgrade, H2 being a service pack release:
The question is, will this be a new default? From two yearly releases, H1 will be the major feature upgrade, and H2 a minor one, mostly containing bug fixes and some cosmetic changes. If so, then it is not too difficult to see how the Insider rings would work in the future. Fast ring Insiders would start getting 21H1 builds sometime first quarter of 2020. The Slow ring would start getting 20H1 builds after the 19H2 GA release, and Release Preview Insiders would get 20H1 sometime in April, assuming that GA occurs in May 2020.
Or, is 19H2 now getting minor focus an exception, not a new default? It is possible. Then it might well happen that with 20H1 we go back to the old system, with all rings in the next release instead of Fast ring pacing a year ahead. This would mean that 20H2 preview builds for Fast ring would start some time in Q1 / 2020, with the Slow ring getting 20H2 builds but not as frequently as the Fast ring from the time Release Preview ring gets 20H1, most likely in April 2020.
The more I think about this, the more I try to analyze it, the more convinced I am that H2 releases in the future will only contain cosmetic changes and bug fixes, while H1 releases will be full, real feature upgrades. This way, Microsoft would not have to publicly announce that they were wrong, and that twice-yearly feature upgrade is too much for them and the user base to handle. We would still get two releases per year, although only one of those would stand up to its designation as a Feature upgrade.
The most interesting element in this discussion is that neither Microsoft nor its Insider team have told us anything about why 19H2 isn’t being tested at all. Not only is this interesting fact, it is also the only thing we know right now. In fact, the only thing we know for sure is that we know nothing. Everything else is just speculation, including my own posts about the Windows Insider program and its future.
We can only hope that the Insider team really communicates with us in some way, to tell us what is happening now, and what will happen in the future. That said, I don’t see the status quo changing much. Since the 1809 fiasco the information we have received has been reduced below even the barest minimum.
We just have to wait and see! While I hope for and would welcome change, I see nothing to suggest such changes are possible. Cross your fingers!
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.