Microsoft Pushes Windows Insiders Forward … to 20H1?

Posted on April 5, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 19 Comments

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Microsoft today revealed that Windows Insiders in the Fast ring will soon be testing a new version of Windows 10. The issue? It’s not the next version of Windows 10, called 19H2. It’s the one after that. Called 20H1.

Windows Insider says whaaaat?

“With the Windows 10 May 2019 Update being shared to the Release Preview ring soon, we’re planning to move Windows Insiders in the Fast ring forward to 20H1,” a Microsoft post to Insiders reads. “We will also be merging the small group of Insiders who opted-in to Skip Ahead back into the Fast ring. We are looking to make this change in the coming weeks.”

What this means is unclear.

For one thing, the end of the Magic Window, that time period during which Insiders can safely un-enroll PCs from the program and resume normal updating along with the rest of humanity, is coming soon. So if you want to do that, now is the time.

But pushing Fast ring testers forward two versions of Windows is a first. Microsoft previously did this, and only once, with those in Skip Ahead.

So let’s speculate.

We know that 19H2 is still happening. So Microsoft must have some plan for testing it. Mary Jo believes this change means that 19H2 will be a minor update, and I think she’s right. I’ll further guess that 19H2 will only be tested in the Slow ring, which is interesting on a few levels. Most notably that Microsoft forgets that the Slow ring even exits for months at a time. I guess that will have to change.

When you combine this news with this week’s cataclysmic retreat on Windows as a Service, it seems that Microsoft is serious, finally, about making Windows 10 servicing less intrusive for all of its customers, individuals and businesses alike. I had always believed such a thing was inevitable, but watching it happen this suddenly and quickly is almost breathtaking. It’s like watching the Berlin Wall come down.

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Comments (19)

19 responses to “Microsoft Pushes Windows Insiders Forward … to 20H1?”

  1. anthonye1778

    What this seems to mean is that one tier is being taken away and the remaining two are being "moved up".

    1) Skip Ahead is going away for good.

    2) Fast will now be what Skip Ahead was, and with start with 20H1

    3) Slow will now be what Fast was, and will get updates to the current branch.

  2. PeterC

    So I'd wager these windows release periods cover the period of time Microsoft will publicly re-align Windows 10 towards its Enterprise offering and MS release Windows LITE or whatever it ends up being called. WIN 10 Enterprise will be an annual update release cycle with user controls as to what you update and when etc, while LITE OS (?) remains the constantly updated product maybe as part of a consumer services/security/hardware subscription model.

    To be clear 20H1 is in my opinion the first quarter of this more Enterprise focussed offering, ie 1st half 2020. Lite OS gets launched later this year? and Surface hardware revamps will launch with both Win 10 Enterprise and LiteOS products in mind.

    Well thats what I saw in my tea leaves this morning.

  3. bluvg

    "this week’s cataclysmic retreat"

    That seems a bit of an exaggeration. They've been tweaking the rollout model since Windows 10 came out. And it's still a different model than Windows pre-10.

  4. Dan1986ist

    Since fast ring will be testing 20H1 and you can't go back from 20H1 to 19H2, slow ring logically has to be the ring where 19H2 will be tested. Therefore, it makes since to have Insiders in Fast ring testing 20H1, those in slow ring testing 19H2, and those in release preview testing 1903 cumulative updates.

  5. JerryH

    I honestly think Microsoft may announce soon that they are only going to do one release a year. We got a survey from them at work not too long ago and the amount of survey bias forcing us towards picking 1 release a year was very high. There was a question about how many builds per year you would like to see and it had options for just "one" and "two or MORE". There wasn't a "two is just fine as is" and you really wanted to avoid that "more" so I am sure most people picked "one" even if they were OK with the current two. I know we agonized over it because we are doing OK with the two. It looked like they were really driving towards forcing businesses to pick the "one" and then say, "see, businesses told us - just one".

  6. rogerc

    "We will begin releasing 19H2 bits to Insiders later this spring and will talk more about what that will look like in the near future."

    It's right there?

    I mean, it's not really unclear:

    1. No core changes in 19H2 so there's nothing to test yet
    2. Early development of core changes for 20H1 happening right now, tested by insiders in Skip Ahead and soon Fast
    3. After 19H2 has something to show it will roll out to Fast probably putting 20H1 into Skip Ahead again
    4. 19H2 rolls out, 20H1 moves from Skip Ahead to Fast again
  7. benisaacs

    Makes you wonder if they’re going for a one major platform update per year (H1 release) that need the long testing period and doing what we use to call a “platform update” for the H2 releases and therefore only need a smaller (?) group of people to test?

  8. codymesh

    so basically 19H2 isn't going to be a thing.

    • Dan1986ist

      In reply to codymesh:

      Most likely it will be a thing, but only be a minor upgrade as they are only so many build numbers between 18362 which is 1903 and the first 20H1 build that skip ahead got when Microsoft started flighting 20H1.

  9. rwj_dk

    To me this sounds like 19H2 will turn out to be similar to a "Service Pack" which content will be nothing more than 19H1 + Bugfixes, aka:

    - No need to test as heavy so tester are moved to 20H1

    - Windows is moving to a 1 year release cycle with 6 months roll-up SP to still force current update and support cycle

    - New features have longer time to test so hopefully less bugs

    - Bring back the feeling to please "We will upgrade when the first Service Pack is out" mentality

    - Since Windows is not a major focus anymore no need to push new features to win customer every 6 months


    So I think essentially Brad and Paul just got their wish for a 1 release a year wish...

  10. hrlngrv

    I can't say I'd mind if H1 versions became feature uprgades and H2 versions little more than service packs.

    • gardner

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      And if there became an H3 version added to the mix (yes, I know what the "H" means), with yet additional hotfixes, then magically you arrive at Apple's scheme, minor releases through the year, and an annual feature release.

  11. Rob Sitze

    Quote: "... watching it happen this suddenly and quickly is almost breathtaking. It’s like watching the Berlin Wall come down."

    This is standard MO for MS though. Once they make up their mind to make a major shift, it happens very rapidly.

  12. ggolcher

    Here's a possibility:

    Microsoft may start testing Windows versions earlier and function akin to Office.

    Windows works like this: for a given release a new build goes to the fast ring, then *maybe* goes to the slow ring, and then another to the fast ring, eventually released

    Office works like this: a given release first goes into the fast right and is updated there, then it goes into the slow ring and is updated there, then released. When a build is in the slow ring, the following release appears in the fast ring.

    Maybe Microsoft wants to do this and test 2 versions ahead in the Fast ring and 1 version ahead in the Slow ring. So once 19H2 is released, 20H1 goes into the slow ring, and 20H2 goes into the fast ring.

  13. gardner

    Something is changing, otherwise there would be no reason not to explain everything at once (other than Microsoft's inability to communicate), so there are two choices: Windows 19H2 has some secret unannounced feature that can't be revealed right now. or..... Windows Insider is changing in a major way. Both MaryJo and Paul seem to have belief (and maybe evidence) that Windows itself is not changing much in 19H2.

    I supposed if the H2 series is all only bug fixing and polish, and only would be expected to have low risk code changes, then turning the slow ring into the hot fix testing ring has some merit. And the H1 series would be the feature series, and would get just fast ring types, aka risk takers.

    Certainly different, and likely would bifurcate the insider audience... risk takers on the H1 releases, and stablity types on the H2 release.... which might be what Microsoft wants?

  14. duke7553

    It would be neat if CShell (including a new File Explorer) came to 20h1. Microsoft is clearly not going to replace legacy Windows 10 with WCOS anytime soon, so they are probably going to start introducing WCOS features to legacy Windows. My wish list is as follows:

    • CShell with modern File Explorer
    • ChromeOS-like updater which would reduce downtime exponentially
    • Further deprecation and eventual removal of legacy components and APIs