Microsoft Releases New Windows 10 Build to Fast Ring

Posted on December 17, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 16 Comments

Last night, Microsoft issued a new Fast ring build to Windows Insiders, pushing the program forward to some future version of Windows 10 beyond 20H1. But which version? Is this 20H2? 21H1?

As it turns out, neither. Or both. Or something.

What the Insider folks are telling us is how the program is changing. As you may recall, Microsoft late last year got rid of Skip Ahead, which had become pointless and confusing in the wake of its decision to change how the Fast and Slow rings worked. So here’s what they said about how the Fast ring will work with this and future new builds.

“The Fast ring will receive builds directly from the active development branch (called “RS_PRERELEASE”) and new features will show up in these builds first,” the latest Insider post notes. “While features in the active development branch may be slated for a future Windows 10 release, they are no longer matched to a specific Windows 10 release. This means that builds from the active development branch simply reflect the latest work in progress code from our engineers. 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.”

Ah boy.

What this suggests is that we’ll be publicly testing features from at least the next two versions of Windows 10, and that there’s no real way to know whether specific features will make it into the very next version. This is a problem for anyone who supports Windows, obviously, not just book authors like me but also those in enterprise IT. But you know. Microsoft.

At least they make it seem like a positive.

“Insiders in the Fast ring will always receive builds with the freshest code from our engineers regardless of branching off for a specific release,” the post continues. “Everyone in the Fast ring is always moving forward!”

Yes. Like a shark.

Anyway, build 19536 does bring a handful of small new features that we’ll presumably see in shipping versions of Windows 10 sometime in the next year or more. These include:

Optional drivers. I can’t tell what’s changed here based on the description. But it seems like they’re moving towards a system where “you no longer need to browse Device Manager for a specific device to update.” I can’t imagine anyone normal was ever doing that. I certainly never do.

Korean IME re-release. The Korean IME that Microsoft was developing for Windows 10 version 19H1 was pulled late in development. It’s back.

Family group during Setup. You will now see an option to create or use a Family group during Setup if you clean install (or, really, Reset this PC) with this build.

Confusion reigns. As usual.

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Comments (16)

16 responses to “Microsoft Releases New Windows 10 Build to Fast Ring”

  1. madthinus

    I think the slow ring will be testing the builds that is bound to a release.

  2. IanYates82

    Does this mean the "magic window" won't be a thing anymore, since if you're always running the freshest stuff, you're probably already past whatever build/version they mark as "RTM" - you're really on a parallel track. Any word from them on this possibility, particularly given that they actually acknowledged the magic window in one of the recent RTM events?

    • Dan1986ist

      In reply to IanYates82:

      For those in fast ring, the magic window is no longer a thing. Slow ring I think would still get branched off from rs_prerelease to whatever_release branch at some point and be able to leave Insiders once a RTM for 20H2 is reached.

  3. BarryWallis

    “Insiders in the Fast ring will always receive builds with the freshest code..."

    That's why I am in the Fast Ring. I don't want any stale builds.

  4. davidblouin

    A change to prepare them from moving away from the two release per year cycle to please the Pundit, but of course you just can't please a pundit...

  5. jimchamplin

    NOW they want to replace Device Manager. What about everything else that needs help?

    Something I realized lately that would make a huge impact and really help a lot of the visual inconsistency would be to restore the classic visual style. How about it Microsoft?

  6. djross95

    "I can’t imagine anyone normal was ever doing that." Lol, that applies to many aspects of Windows 10! At this point in its life cycle, MS should be focused solely on fit and finish issues, primarily graphic and process consistency and bug fixing. And deprecating the many features and apps that no one ever uses. All of this would make Windows more efficient, simpler to use and cohesive.

  7. SWCetacean

    This doesn't seem very confusing to me. Fast ring becomes similar to the Canary ring of Chromium, or the nightly builds of various other software/OSes (e.g. Ubuntu nightly). Once a solid feature set has emerged, those features are spun off into their own release branch to form the next release of Windows. I think this is a sensible development strategy.

  8. atlantapaul

    I’m not a seeker but when will I get 1909?

  9. Dan1986ist

    Has fast ring become a never-ending beta testing ring that you can't leave and stay on a particular version of Windows 10 once a new version is finished and made available to everyone, unless you completely wipe out your system and clean install? Sounds that way from reading Microsoft's blog post.

  10. wunderbar

    the driver thing is something, if implemented well, I'd appreciate as someone working in IT. I was having to go into device manager to manually remove some troublesome drivers just last week on a computer at work.

    In Windows 10 Device Manager is much harder to work with because under a standard user account you can't make any changes, and you can't "run as administrator" on device manager. A workaround exists where you can run mmc as an admin, and add device manager as a snap-in, but that's a whole bunch of extra steps.

    If they can bake this into modern settings in a way that makes my job easier, I'll be very happy.

  11. hrlngrv

    FWIW, build 19536 brings back the Insider Preview watermark.