Microsoft has completed development of the Creators Update, so Windows Insiders who would like to make a change can now do so without danger. It’s what I call the “magic window,” and it only happens once or twice a year.
Here’s the deal: If you enroll a PC in the Windows 10 Insider Preview, you are agreeing to accept pre-release builds of Windows 10 for testing purposes. Depending on how many builds you’ve installed, and where Windows 10 is at that exact point in time, you’re pretty much stuck if you want to revert and go back to the shipping version of Windows 10: Doing so normally requires you to use the Refresh Windows utility to reinstall the OS from scratch, wiping out all of your data, settings, and installed applications.
(Windows Insiders can, however, switch between so-called Insider “rings” at any time: You have a choice of Fast, Slow, and Release Preview.)
But there is one major exception to this rule: When Microsoft completes a major new Windows 10 version, as it has done with the Creators Update, there is a short window of time—the magic window—during which you can simply revert to the shipping version of Windows 10. And that’s because, for this short window of time, the Windows Insider versions of Windows 10 (across all three rings) and the shipping version of Windows 10 are, for now, the same thing. It’s like when planets align in orbit. It happens, but rarely.
So. If you have a PC that is enrolled in the Windows 10 Insider Preview, you can now dis-enroll it from the program without having to wipe it out with Refresh Windows. You can simply opt-out and continue forward with the normal public, shipping updates that Microsoft will deliver in the weeks and months ahead.
But there’s a catch. This window could close at any time, and Microsoft is not saying when it will begin delivering new builds that are part of the next major Windows 10 version, currently code-named “Redstone 3” (RS3; the Creators Update was originally code-named “Redstone 2.”) Once you start accepting Redstone 3 builds, you’re stuck again, meaning that the only way to revert your PC to the shipping version of Windows 10 is to wipe it out with Refresh Windows.
“We’re getting ready to start releasing new builds from our Development Branch,” Microsoft’s Dona Sarkar explained this week, describing what I call the “magic window.”
So here are your choices.
Change your ring. You can switch between the Fast, Slow, and Release Preview rings at any time. If you’d like to keep your PC in the Insider Preview, but don’t want to receive the first few (probably buggy) RS3 builds, step it down to Slow or Release Preview and sit out the early stupidity.
Leave the program. If you simply want to continue forward with the shipping version of Windows 10—e.g. the Creators Update, or Windows 10 version 1703—you can opt your PC out of the Insider Preview now. To do so, navigate to Settings (WINKEY + I) > Updates & Security > Windows Insider Program and then select the “Stop Insider Preview builds” button. (This is shown above.)
Select the last option, “Keeping giving me builds until the next Windows release.” You won’t actually get any new builds, I’d imagine. But you could get some cumulative updates that are delivered between RTM (the “final” release) and GA (general availability, on April 11). Once the Creators Update is public, your PC will opt-out of the Insider Preview. (You will need to confirm this choice and reboot.)