Microsoft makes changes to the Fast Ring and hints at new servicing releases
Microsoft revealed in November 2019 that it would end the Skip Ahead Windows Insiders Ring. Skip Ahead was designed to provide testers with a glimpse of future versions of Windows 10 that would not be released anytime soon.
With Skip Ahead removed as an option, Windows Insiders can choose between Fast, Slow, and Release Preview rings. The termination of the Skip Ahead ring raised questions that Microsoft did not answer at the time. Would Microsoft continue to test features designed for future versions of Windows 10 -- opposed to the next release -- and if so, how? Would all Insiders be able to test these features or only part of the population?
Microsoft released a new Windows 10 build yesterday and with the announcement came the long awaited answers to those questions.
Fast Ring Insider systems will receive the "latest code changes" from the active development branch going forward according to Microsoft. Means: new features will show up on Fast Ring systems first after they are updated to new builds.
Microsoft notes that these new features are no longer matched to a particular release. They may be released as part of full feature updates or as servicing releases. Feature updates don't necessarily mean the next feature update that is in the works for Windows 10. Microsoft states explicitly that the new code that it integrates into Fast Ring builds will be introduced when it is ready (or not at all as there is also the likelihood of it being pulled completely before stable release).
New features and OS improvements done in this branch during these development cycles will show up in future Windows 10 releases when they are ready. And we may deliver these new features and OS improvements as full OS build updates or servicing releases.
Servicing releases refers to updates that are similar in nature to Windows 10 version 1909 which Microsoft released this year.
While Microsoft stated in November 2019 that it had no plans to make future Windows 10 updates like Windows 10 version 1909, it appears that the company may indeed plan to release other updates, maybe Windows 10 version 21H2, in a similar fashion.
Microsoft reorganized the Insider system and channels, to take into account servicing updates among other things. Most Windows 10 users and admins I talked to were in favor of a smaller update like Windows 10 version 1909 and a larger more feature-rich update earlier in the year.