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Windows 10 Insider Previews: A guide to the builds


Microsoft never sleeps. Even before Microsoft made the Windows 10 May 2020 Update (version 2004) generally available to users, the company began working on upcoming feature updates to Windows 10. As it did with version 2004, Microsoft has been releasing a series of public preview builds to members of Microsoft’s Windows Insider Program.

After years of using “Redstone” in its code names for upcoming releases, Microsoft switched to a new format with version 1903, released in May 2019. The code names now use a YYH1/YYH2 format, with the YY standing for the last two numbers of the year and H1 or H2 referring to the first or second half of the year. So Windows 10 version 2004, which was released in May 2020, was code-named “20H1” (for first half of 2020). The next feature update, due in the fall of 2020, is code-named 20H2.

In June 2020, Microsoft also changed the terminology it uses for releasing new preview builds, changing its longstanding “ring” model to a channel model. The new Dev Channel generally corresponds to the old Fast ring; it’s where new features are introduced for initial testing, regardless of which Windows 10 release they’ll eventually end up in. This channel is best for technical users and developers, and builds in it may be unstable and buggy.

The Beta Channel corresponds to the old Slow ring. Here you’ll get more polished features that will be deployed in the next Windows 10 feature update; at the moment that’s Windows 10 20H2. This channel is best for early adopters, and Microsoft says your feedback in this channel will have the most impact. The Release Preview Channel, unsurprisingly, corresponds to the old Release Preview ring. It usually doesn’t see action until shortly before a new feature update is rolled out; it’s meant for final testing of an upcoming release and is best for those who want the most stable builds.

Existing Insiders don’t need to do anything to choose the correct channel: Those in the Fast ring will automatically be moved to the Dev Channel, those in the Slow ring will be moved to the Beta Channel, and those in the Release Preview ring will be moved to the Release Preview Channel.

Use the links below to find information about preview builds that have been released to each of the three channels:

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