I do not have to tell you about the Windows 10 version 1809 release fiasco. It is well known and documented. In fact, some users still haven’t received the upgrade over four months after it was originally released. But, the opening paragraph of the latest Windows Insider Skip Ahead build 18836 release notes Thursday last week (February 14th, 2018) promises something new. It contains two surprises and shows that the Insider team might finally admit they were wrong in all their arrogance. Here’s a quote from the Windows Insider blog, from the release notes for build 18836:
Hello Windows Insiders, today we are releasing a new build to Insiders who have opted into Skip Ahead. These builds are from the 20H1 development branch. Some things we are working on in 20H1 require a longer lead time. We will begin releasing 19H2 bits to Insiders later this spring after we get 19H1 nearly finished and ready; once 19H1 is “nearly finished and ready” we’ll also use the Release Preview ring for previews of drivers and quality updates on 19H1.
Read that again, and think about what it means.
First and foremost, the cocky “we do not need a release preview” attitude is gone. You know what I am talking about. As Insider team member Brandon LeBlanc related in his tweet when the “grand fiasco” Windows 10 version 1809 was released back in October 2018, they felt they did not need to release a Release Preview build for Insiders to check if everything was OK:
No. Technically we released it to the Release Preview *at the same time*. And we did this on purpose. We're using RP for servicing validation and roll-out testing which is why we held it for today.
— Brandon LeBlanc (@brandonleblanc) October 2, 2018
Second, the Insider team seems to understand that more testing is required before releasing any final feature upgrades. As it has been until now, Insiders have had a first preview for a new feature upgrade about 7 months before the release. For instance, when the totally failed Windows 10 version 1809 was released, at that time Insiders got their first preview builds of version 1903 /19H1, build that will be released this April. That gave Insiders just over six months to test the upcoming version 1903/ 19H1.
With the latest Insider build for those who’ve opted into the Skip Ahead ring, they are now offering a preview build for a Windows 10 version over 14 months before its release. That’s right: build 18836 is a preview for Windows 10 version 20H1. That represents a build that will be officially released in beginning of the second quarter of 2020. This gives Insiders, as well as the team, over 14 months to test a new feature upgrade. In one single step, the Insider team has added half a year of testing to future releases.
Short version: until now, Fast ring Insiders have had just over six months to test the next feature upgrade. Now, we have over 14 months to test a future feature upgrade. We also have a promise from the Insider team that they will go back to the old system and release a Release Preview build before releasing a new Windows 10 feature upgrade.
I welcome these changes. I think it is positive that the Insider team publicly announced that they were wrong, that the next feature upgrade will be released to Release Preview ring before the general availability. I also find it quite positive that the team acknowledges that more time is needed to develop future upgrades, giving us Skip Ahead Insiders more than a year to test future features.
All in all I am satisfied to see that until now the Insider team’s quite arrogant “we know what we are doing” attitude has been changed to “maybe we have not been so perfect as we thought” thinking.
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.