Insiders Can Now Skip Ahead and Test the Next Windows 10 Version

Posted on July 26, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 15 Comments

Insiders Can Now Skip Ahead and Test the Next Windows 10 Version

Microsoft this week announced that Insiders can now choose to “skip ahead” to testing the next version of Windows 10 after the Fall Creators Update.

Annoyingly, this announcement was made via the Feedback Hub, an app inside Windows 10, and not publicly, and transparently, on the web where everyone can see it.

“We are now at the stage in the development cycle for the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update where we’re working hard to bash all the bugs and stabilize so it’s the best Windows 10 release yet for all our customers,” the announcement notes. “As we work to prepare the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update for the world, our engineering teams are beginning work on the next release of Windows 10 from our Development Branch.”

The language is a bit confusing, since the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update—which is really called Windows 10 version 1709—is, in fact, “the next release of Windows 10.” But that “Development Branch” bit is the important part: This means that the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update is, in effect, feature complete and is now in the final stages of development. As such, it is being moved into its own branch, or fork, which Microsoft is naming “RS3_RELEASE” to differentiate it from other release branches like Current Branch (which is on the Creators Update, or version 1703).

Insiders who wish to move on to the next-next version of Windows 10—or what’s codenamed “Redstone 4,” as opposed to the “Redstone 3” codename for the Fall Creators Update—can now visit Settings > Update & Security > Windows Insider Program and change the setting under “What kind of content would you like to receive?” from “Active development of Windows” to “Skip ahead to the next Windows release.”

However, you should understand the ramifications of this change before doing so.

At some point, the RS3_RELEASE branch will become the shipping version of Windows, and there will be a short moment in time, a window, where you can un-enroll that PC from the Insider Program all together and just use Windows normally. And as Microsoft explains in the Feedback Hub post, at that point, those PCs that have switched to the Development Branch (or, to Redstone 4) testing will not be able to switch back to RS3_RELEASE.

In other words, you’re beta testing software here, so be smart, and pay attention. And make sure you know what you’re doing.

Finally, Microsoft is going to limit the number of PCs it will allow in the Development Branch during this transition.

“We need to have Windows Insiders in the Fast ring helping us get the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update ready and giving us feedback on issues they are experiencing,” the post explains. “So there will be a limit as to how many Windows Insiders can skip ahead. Once that limit is met, the UI on the flight settings page will notify Windows Insiders trying to choose to skip ahead that it’s been closed.”

It looks like the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update is basically complete.

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Comments (15)

15 responses to “Insiders Can Now Skip Ahead and Test the Next Windows 10 Version”

  1. Jaxidian

    Seems to me this is mostly just a way to kinda keep the momentum of the "Fast" ring without as long of a delay for the RS3 release. I like.


    A couple questions I have:


    1) What is limited? Devices or Accounts? Meaning if I get one device into the rs4_prerelease branch on my Insider account, will I later be able to put more devices on it even after it is "closed"?


    2) Why on earth did they not post this on the web??? Seems silly!

  2. madthinus

    This to me is just stupid. You need as many people banging RS3 right now, otherwise customers are again beta testers when this thing ships.

  3. Narg

    In playing around with the Insiders dialog, seems they are trying to make switching around on versions easier overall at least. But I agree with Paul here, tread at your own risk...

  4. mmcpher

    Makes sense to me. The reality is that the two branches will exist, employing people within Microsoft with different skill sets and different briefs, each of which will benefit from Insider feedback. I could reason to even a strategy behind this kind of announcement "rollout" though it does fit within Microsoft's general haphazard way of communicating. Maybe it's a by-product of trying a little too hard to streamline the workforce and operate as lean as shareholders demand. At some point lean becomes flat understaffed and its not always possible to do more with less and something has to give and some things fall through the cracks. The inability to consistently and coherently communicate certainly adds to confusion and overall doubt and concern about the company, its products, services and its future.


    This obscured release of info does give people a little more time to consider and in this way Microsoft gets feedback on the approach and can tweak the message before broader announcement. I certainly get the message that I should put extra thought before I skip ahead, as the subtext to the skipping message is get ready for greater instability and bugs ahead in the new branch, particularly as recent Insider Builds have been so incremental that you might hardly notice much new. This is about to change back to the earlier, shakier state of Insider Builds as new elements were tested and tweaked. At any rate, I would rather have the choice to opt for greater stability or the fun of accessing new features through skipping ahead. At some point, the prospect of minor enhancements in staying Fast Ring on the current branch becomes less appealing and hopefully, the prospect of meaningful enhancements through skipping ahead becomes more. It would be nice to toggle back and forth in the event that a new branch build arrives as a hot mess.

  5. Gardner

    This is more evidence that twice a year updates is too fast. Reduce back to one, remove this ill conceived setting and this ill conceived release rate, and get everyone working on the latest, best code.

    There is no reason development wise why you would need to get external testers for version n+1 when you should be all-hands-on-board testing the current one. The very testers that will leave are the ones you most need making sure the current version is bullet proof.

    This looks more like a decision where non-developers are trying to push unwise development process on developers.

    What a shame.

  6. Dan1986ist

    Was there a servicing update that switched Version 1703 from rs_prelease to rs2_release? If there was, will there also be one to switch Version 1709 from rs_prelease to rs3_release? Or the switchover will occur with the next build flighted to Insiders in Fast Ring?

  7. kzrystof

    Listening to Paul on the different podcasts regarding the rapid release cycle, I can't help but thinking... Is it really to add more user-facing "features" to Windows? Would it be possible that the rapid release cycle has other (more important?) reasons than just putting out new "features"?


    It could just be that more work is being done under the hood to transform Windows *somehow* and the rapid release cycle is just a way to enforce the engineers to commit the code changes and release it as soon as possible (and avoid another Longhorn fiasco)...

    • Demileto

      In reply to kzrystof:

      I think it's a reaction to the backlash they received from having to postpone the delivery of My People, Timeline and Cloud Clipboard from the updates they were originally supposed to show up. By adding the the ability to skip to the next update to insiders they effectively widen the development window of an update by one or two months, allowing them to add and test more features.

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  9. irfaanwahid

    I agree with most of the commenters here that 2 updates a year I think is too much. It also builds up pressure on Microsoft to come up with new features for every new update, it can be rushed, not well thought of.

    At the same time it is too much for consumers I believe, pro users like myself don't mind as much however looking at a bigger picture it is a downer for all parties, including MS.

    What I wouldn't mind them doing is, they can do 1 feature update per year and mid year they do minor update for mostly fit and finish, bug fixes, refinements of the previous update. This would even make the OS even more stable, since they will not be focusing on new features at all.

    I remember getting all hyped up and excited during XP to Vista, to 7 and even to 8 upgraded. But the excitement is more since Windows 10 and all the follow up updates.

    I think there is more excitement now for iOS annual updates than for Windows.

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