The Windows Insider Engineering Team revealed this week that it will soon start shipping new pre-release builds of Windows 10 after a short break for the Anniversary Update release. And as you should expect, these new builds will include our first peek at “Redstone 2,” the next major milestone for Windows 10.
Of course, with multiple release rings to choose from, things are going to be complicated for a while: Microsoft will continue to improve Windows 10 version 1607 (which is the current version of the product, and what you get when you install the Anniversary Update) in tandem with Windows 10 “Redstone 2.” And that means that Windows Insiders will have a chance to improve either product version going forward, depending on which release ring they choose.
On that note, it may be a good time to revisit those release rings with an eye towards choosing the one that makes the most sense for you. There are three:
Fast. Going forward, testers on the Fast ring will receive pre-release Windows 10 “Redstone 2” builds at a rapid clip.
Slow. Going forward, testers on the Slow ring will receive pre-release Windows 10 “Redstone 2” builds at a slower clip, where only those builds judged to be of high quality by Fast ring testers will be shipped to this ring.
Release Preview. Going forward, testers on the Release Preview ring will receive Windows 10 version 1607 cumulative updates—and driver updates and app updates—before they are shipped publicly. (Previously, Release Preview testers received updates for Windows 10 version 1511, or build 10586.x.)
In other words, if you want to test “Redstone 2,” you need to be on the Fast or Slow ring. And if you want to test cumulative updates for the current Windows 10 version, you need to be on the Release Preview. There is of course a fourth option, which I described yesterday: You can now opt out of the Windows Insider program and remain on Windows 10 version 1607 if you’d like. If you do so, you will simply receive Windows 10 cumulative updates whenever they’re released publicly.
I should also note that these guidelines apply to Windows 10 for phones: Though Windows 10 for phones version 1607 hasn’t officially shipped yet, it soon will, and after “a few weeks,” Microsoft will begin offering “Redstone 2” builds for Windows 10 for phones via the Fast and Slow rings, and Windows 10 for phones version 1607 cumulative updates via the Release Preview ring. You can find out more about that situation in Windows 10 Mobile Rumbles Back to Life as Windows 10 for Phones.
As for “Redstone 2,” Microsoft is doing what it did last November when it reset development in the wake of Windows 10 version 1511: It’s working on the shared OS core, which it calls OneCore. And that means that the first few “Redstone 2” builds won’t include many new features.
“You won’t see any big noticeable changes or new features just yet,” Microsoft explains in a post to the Windows 10 Feedback Hub. “We are focusing on making some structural improvements to OneCore. If you recall, OneCore is the shared core of Windows across PC, tablet, phone, IoT, Hololens and Xbox. It is essentially the heart of Windows. We’re doing some code refactoring and other engineering work to make sure OneCore is optimally structured for teams to start checking in new features and improvements in a few months. As a result, these [first] builds may include more bugs and other issues that could be slightly more painful for some people to live with. If this makes you uncomfortable, you can change your ring… for more stable builds.”
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