We’re just 40 days out from the Windows 10 launch—yes, really, just 40 days—but if my recent experience with build 10147 is any guide, the PC versions of this OS are actually shaping up pretty nicely. Which makes the timing of this news not at all suspicious: Microsoft says that it is making major changes to the Windows Insider program that will help guide how things work after the launch.
To be clear: these changes apply ONLY to the Windows Insider program and do not represent major policy changes for Windows only. In case it’s not obvious, Microsoft intends to continue the Windows Insider program after Windows 10 launches, so that enthusiasts can continue to be that “canary in the coal mine” and test new features before they’re fully ready. So some things are going to need to change.
And they are.
Microsoft account required. If you intend to continue with the Windows Insider program, you will need to connect to the Microsoft account (MSA) you used to register for the Windows Insider program in all future builds (regardless of whether you’re on the Fast or Slow ring). Why? Because Windows Update is being updated in order to more efficiently deliver future builds, and Microsoft needs to ensure that only Windows Insiders are getting the Insider builds. (It’s worth noting, by the way, that Windows 10 has a far smaller MSA requirement than Windows 8/8.1, if that kind of thing bothered you. Obviously, some apps and features doing require an MSA.)
Insiders will be getting the final build. There has been a ton of confusion about just how and when Windows Insiders will get the final build of Windows 10, and whether they will be able to do clean installs with downloadable Setup media. According to Microsoft, Insiders will receive the final release build of Windows 10 starting on July 29th (and not earlier, which is surprising), and it will be delivered just like any other new builds. And yes, you can do clean installs: “Once you have successfully installed this build and activated, you will also be able to clean install on that PC from final media if you want to start over fresh,” Gabe Aul notes in a blog post.
Pre-release feedback apps are being removed. Because Windows 10 is barreling towards completion—did I mention that the launch is just 40 days away?—the Insider Hub will no longer be included with the stock Windows 10 install on future builds. But you can—and should—still install this app if your’e going to remain in the Insider program and continue testing new features early. To do so, navigate to Settings, System, Apps & Features; click “Manage optional features” then “Add a feature,” select the Insider Hub entry, and click Install.
Microsoft Edge is finally coming. In the next build, Project Spartan will finally appear in its final form as Microsoft Edge. And now we know why this took so long: because Microsoft is renaming the app, Edge has a new app ID, which will cause any favorites, cookies, history and Reading list items that you had saved in the Project Spartan app to be lost after upgrading from a previous Insider Preview build. If you want to keep these, you will need to back up before you install the next build To do so, following these steps:
1. Copy your favorites from %localappdata%/Packages/Microsoft.Windows.Spartan_cw5n1h2txyewy/AC/Spartan/User/Default/Favorites.
2. Save them to %userprofile%/Favorites.
3. After upgrading to the next build, open Edge, choose Settings, and then import your favorites from another browser. Choose Internet Explorer as the source.
Mr. Aul says that he expects to have new Insider Preview builds available soon for both PC and phone—my sources tell me that today was the original date for the next PC build—and I’m sure the PC version will look and work a lot like the recently leaked build 10147, which is actually pretty excellent.
Buckle up, folks. On the PC at least, Windows 10 is set for the final approach.