More Windows Insider Channels, Same Price!

Photo of a woman watching TV with a Canary

Recently the Windows Insider program created a new channel for testing, as well as “rebooted” the existing Dev Channel. For those who are unfamiliar with the term channels they are different areas where development occurs within Windows. Other software programs use channels, rings, or branches to keep track of and progress new features and fixes. Historically the Windows Insider Program has broken down into:

-Release Preview: Usually the current release of Windows with faster app updates, and non-security fixes applied earlier than in a retail version of Windows 11. This is the most stable Insider Channel.

-Beta Channel: Beta is more the traditional idea of “beta”, a feature or update that is very close to hitting release preview but needs some more testing. This channel is supported by Microsoft for Windows Insider For Business Deployment.

-Dev Channel: Not tied to a specific version of Windows. Features may never show up in retail Windows, it is a place to solicit feedback for concepts, builds out of here are more likely to have issues.

Going forward for 2023 the team created the “Canary Channel” while simultaneously rebooting the Dev Channel. The graphic provided by the team illustrates the differences between the channels now:

Description of the various Windows Insider Channels in 2023. Image Credit: Microsoft

Canary is going to be the least stable with underlying platform changes, not necessarily something you want on your CEO’s main PC. These changes are going to be mainly “under-the-hood” type changes where someone who knows cars will notice but those who just want to get in and drive may not. One can expect that some changes will percolate through all the channels over time. NOT ALL. For instance, there could be a feature Z that changes some under-pinning of the Windows GUI which is developed and tested in Canary which then makes it to Dev Channel to test in some up-coming Windows version. As that version, update, or moment is identified the feature could make its way to Beta and then eventually to Release Preview. This is not guaranteed- a feature could easily NOT come out (See Sets in 2019). This is software development in a nutshell, without getting into specifics.

Also, the team has stressed that Canary, Dev, and Beta all are happening in parallel so a feature might show up in Beta before Dev depending on where they have identified that feature to fit. For smaller features (Like adding back Task Manager to the Right Click Menu – Thank you 😊) this would make sense. Why wait for a long development cycle when that can slot in quicker?

For Insiders already in the Dev Channel they will be moved to Canary because they were already receiving those builds (25000 series). The New Dev Channel will be 23000 series builds, and thus will require a clean install to go from Canary to Dev. You cannot downgrade a channel. The team has a video below that can help guide that.

Happy flighting! I, for one, am looking forward to seeing how the canary channel plays out. I will share in another post how that changes my own Insider setup.

Chris Gahlsdorf

I have been a System Administrator for 15 years now. I have been an avid Microsoft fan for over 20. From my first 486 with Windows 3.0 to my latest custom rig with Windows 11. I have gone from tinkering, to programming, to managing servers, and virtualization. I am a Windows Insider MVP as part of the Windows Insider Program.

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1 Response

  1. November 6, 2023

    […] can point you in the right direction or save you time. For example, I asked Copilot to summarize my blog post about the Windows Insider Channels. It provided a nice quick summary and additional context if […]

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