Microsoft's Office Insider program works very similarly to Windows Insider but has always been limited in options. With the exception of Mac, the program hasn't supported different test rings since its launch in 2015.
Yesterday, August 30th, Microsoft announced that they will be removing that drawback. Within the next few days, a fast ring will come to Windows desktop, Mac, and Windows Mobile. Android and iOS will also get support, though it will take a little longer.
Kirk Koenigsbauer, Corporate Vice President, Office 365 Client Apps and Services Team, took to the blog to talk about the changes:
“The Fast level provides even earlier builds of Office, more frequently. In fact, these builds are what Microsoft employees have access to internally. Office Insider Fast is best for Insiders who want to use the earliest preview builds to identify issues, provide feedback to help make Office great, and who don't mind a bit of risk using unsupported builds.”
The new scheme should help eager customers get their hands on new features as early as possible. In doing so, the team will also have a bigger user pool to spot bugs, errors, and improvements. This will result in more stable non-fast builds and public releases.
Differences in Office Insider Fast
Windows Insiders will be used to a slow turnaround from fast ring builds to public release. Office Insider fast, on the other hand, will only have a 1-3 week turnaround. The pace of change may be why Microsoft was so reluctant initially.
Some users may be confused about the difference between the Insider fast program and the First Release program. The key difference is in the target audience. First Release is only available to Office 365 Business/Enterprise customers. The Insider program, on the other hand, is aimed at Office 365 Home and Personal users.
The program should be launched by this time next week, so be sure to keep an eye on the Office Insider website for changes.