Microsoft announces new Canary Insider channel for the bold
Microsoft announced several major changes to its Windows Insider program today, including the launch of a new Canary channel.
The Insider program was established when Microsoft released Windows 10. It offered development builds for testing purposes, and Microsoft used the data that it received from Insider systems to detect issues and bugs before final release.
Microsoft kept using the Windows Insider program when it launched Windows 11. Up until now, organizations and users could join the Dev, Beta or Release Preview channels. Most of the time, features are launched in Dev first before they are moved to Beta and Release Preview machines.
The new Canary Insider channel
The system is changing, as Microsoft adds a Canary channel to the available options. The main idea behind the Canary channel is to "preview builds of platform changes" and separate these from the Dev channel, which was used for that purpose previously.
The new channel is used by Microsoft to preview changes that "require longer-lead time" before they are getting released. Microsoft mentions major Windows kernel or API changes as examples of this.
Canary builds won't be released every day, according to Microsoft, but they will be "hot of the presses". They will have "very little validation and documentation" before they are offered to Insiders, and could "include major issues" that could result in users not being able to use the PC correctly or even having to reinstall Windows. The latter should be a rare case, however, says Microsoft. Windows 11 Canary builds won't receive blog posts for every update that Microsoft relases.
Here is an overview of the new Windows Insider channel system:
- Canary channel -- Build 25000 series, for platform changes.
- Dev channel -- Build 23000 series, to incubate new ideas and preview new features and experiences. Microsoft recommends this channel to users who want to try out new features and experiences as early as they become available.
- Beta channel -- Build 22000 series, remains as is.
- Release Preview channel -- Released Windows 11 versions, remains as is.
Microsoft is migrating Windows Dev channel machines to the new Canary channel automatically starting today; this includes commercial devices configured for the Dev channel. Insiders will be informed about the change via email and in the operating system.
An option to clean install Windows to switch to a different Insider channel will be offered to these users.
Windows Insiders have the option to switch to channels with higher builds, but not the other way around. A device could be moved from Beta to Dev, but it can't be downgraded from Dev to Beta. This means, that Windows 11 Insider machines can't be downgraded from the Canary channel to any other channel. A clean installation of Windows 11 is required for that.
Up until now, organizations and interested home users could run a Dev channel insider VM or device to check out most of the upcoming features and changes to Windows 11. Now, it appears, that two builds are required to test it all. Microsoft cut these future platform changes from the current Dev channel and moved them to the Canary channel instead.
Dev channels still get most of the experimental features and changes first, though, and it seems likely that most Windows 11 Dev channel Insiders may want to stay on that channel.
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