Earlier this month, Microsoft introduced a new feature for Windows Insider Program members. Called Skip Ahead, it allowed users to move forward and test future Windows 10 branches. Soon after it was launched, Microsoft removed it. Now, the company has brought back Skip Ahead.
It is worth noting that Microsoft is likely to persist with this sporadic availability. The company originally said Skip Ahead would be open to Insiders for a limited period. It seems Microsoft will continue to have windows where the ability is available.
The feature allows Insiders on the Fast Ring to skip ahead a branch. In this case, it means those members currently running the Fall Creators Update (Redstone 3) can move ahead to the Redstone 4 branch.
We are awaiting Redstone 3, which is also known as the Fall Creators Update (FCU). The new release full Windows 10 version users are on is the Creators Update (Redstone 2).
As we mentioned when it was launched, a Skip Ahead to a future branch has not been possible before. For example, it was not possible to start on the Redstone 3 (FCU) branch until Redstone 2 (Creators Update) was released to all users.
By jumping forward, Fast Ring members will be on the RS-PRERELEASE branch. As we cautioned last time, once on this branch members will need reinstall Windows to return to the previous branch (RS3_RELEASE).
Again, Microsoft is only opening the feature to a specific number of users. Once that unknown quota is filled, the Skip Ahead ability will be closed again.
Looking ahead, Microsoft is likely to announced Redstone 4 later in the year. Once the Fall Creators Update (FCU) is rolled out, we expect a launch event to be announced for the fall.
As this is a pre-release build, not much is known about new features for the next Windows 10 iteration. We do know that Microsoft held back some features from FCU, such as Cloud Clipboard. Microsoft will also expand its Fluent Design UI which will make its debut with the FCU.