The Windows Insider Program has been an integral part of Microsoft’s Windows development process for the past 9 years. As the program enters its ninth year in 2023, Microsoft is evolving the program to better support delivering continuous innovation to Windows 11. Amanda Langowski, the head of the Windows Insider Program, has announced some significant changes to the program that will give users more options to preview builds.
Introducing the Canary Channel
The biggest change to the Windows Insider Program is the introduction of a new Insider Channel called the Canary Channel. The Canary Channel is designed to be the place to preview platform changes that require longer-lead time before getting released to customers. This includes major changes to the Windows kernel and new APIs. The builds released to the Canary Channel will have higher build numbers than the Dev, Beta, and Release Preview Channels – starting with 25000 series builds. Insiders who were previously in the Dev Channel will now be moved to the Canary Channel to receive these builds.
Dev Channel Rebooted (Recommended)
The Dev Channel has been rebooted and will now be the place where Microsoft incubates new ideas and previews new features and experiences, not tied to a specific Windows release. In some cases, the concepts that Microsoft tries with Insiders here will never ship, and others could show up in future Windows releases when they’re ready. The Dev Channel will also provide better platform stability, making it the recommended channel for most Insiders. Going forward, Insiders in the Dev Channel will receive 23000 series builds.
Insiders can now switch to different channels to better suit their needs. For example, if an Insider in the Beta Channel wants to be closer to the latest new features and experiences, they can switch to the Dev Channel. However, it’s important to note that when switching channels, Insiders can’t switch to a channel that is receiving builds with lower build numbers without doing a clean installation of Windows 11 due to technical setup requirements.
Getting New Features
Microsoft controls the state of individual features and experiences included in the builds released to Windows Insiders across the channels with Controlled Feature Rollout (CFR) technology. This allows Microsoft to roll out features in stages to monitor quality and user feedback, as well as try out different variations of features (often referred to as “A/B testing”). Microsoft will communicate about features that it is purposefully enabling for Insiders to try out and give feedback on.
Channels Going Forward
The Insider Channels will look as follows going forward:
[NEW!] Canary Channel: Ideal for highly technical users. Preview the latest platform changes early in the development cycle. These builds can be unstable and are released with limited to no documentation.
[REBOOTED!] Dev Channel: Ideal for enthusiasts. Access the latest Windows 11 preview builds as Microsoft incubate new ideas and develop long lead features. There will be some rough edges and low stability.
[Unchanged] Beta Channel: Ideal for early adopters. These Windows 11 builds will be more reliable than builds from our Dev Channel, with updates validated by Microsoft. Your feedback has the greatest impact here.
[Unchanged] Release Preview Channel: Ideal if you want to preview fixes and certain key features, plus get optional access to the next version of Windows before it’s generally available to the world. This channel is also recommended for commercial users.
Microsoft welcomes feedback on the changes in the Feedback Hub.