Microsoft has announced major changes to the Windows 10 Insider program alongside preview build 19536. Previously, Skip Ahead users were migrated back into the Fast Ring with promises of “providing everyone…the freshest builds at the same time”.
As such, Microsoft has made several very important changes that will have a noticeable impact on users:
“Internally, our engineers work in development cycles with various milestones. The active development branch (called ‘RS_PRERELEASE') is where the teams check in all their latest code changes into the OS,” explained Windows Insider Program senior program manager Brandon LeBlanc. “Moving forward, the Fast ring will receive builds directly from this active development branch and new features will show up in these builds first.”
As you may have gathered, this means that Fast Ring builds will no longer be coupled to a specific Windows feature release. Instead, the focus will be on testing the latest features OS improvements, which may be delivered as full updates or service releases.
The change follows feedback from Insiders that the Skip Ahead ring was confusing and its limited availability frustrating. This is a move to placate those volunteers, but reports suggest it's also bigger than that.
Windows Central's Zack Bowden says sources tell him many of the changes to the model relate to Windows 10 X. As 10X will initially be limited to new devices, Microsoft can't properly test it with Insiders. By decoupling features from specific Windows 10 releases, it can at least test experimental features for its new OS.