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Windows Insider is an open software testing program by Microsoft that allows users who own a valid license of Windows 10 or Windows Server 2016 to sign up for pre-release builds of the operating system previously only accessible to developers.
Microsoft launched Windows Insider for developers, enterprise testers and the "technically able" to test out new developer features on pre-release software & builds, not given publicly released, to gather low level diagnostics feedback in order to identify, investigate, mitigate & improve the Windows 10 OS, with the help, support and guidance of the Insider Program Participants, in direct communication with Microsoft Engineers via a proprietary communication & diagnostic channel.
It was announced on September 30, 2014 along with Windows 10. By September 2015, over 7 million people took part in the Windows Insider Program. On February 12, 2015, Microsoft started to test out previews of Windows 10 Mobile. Microsoft announced that the Windows Insider program would continue beyond the official release of Windows 10 for future updates.
Dona Sarkar is the head of the Windows Insider program. Similar to the Windows Insider program, the Microsoft Office, Bing, Xbox and Visual Studio Code teams have set up their own Insider programs.
Microsoft originally launched Windows Insider for enterprise testers and the "technically able" to test out new developer features and to gather feedback to improve the features built into Windows 10. By the time of the official launch of Windows 10 for PCs, a total of 5 million volunteers were registered on both Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile. They were also among the first people to receive the official update to Windows 10.
With the release of Windows 10, the Windows Insider app was merged with the Settings app. This made the ability to install Windows Insider preview builds an optional feature which could be accessed directly from within Windows 10.
Windows 10 Insider preview updates are delivered to testers in different "rings" or logical categories: Windows Insiders in the fast ring receive updates prior to Windows Insiders in the slow ring but might experience more bugs and other issues. In February 2016 Microsoft introduced new rings for the Windows Insider preview.
|Canary ring||Internal||Canary gets daily updates and are only accessible by Windows developers in the Windows and Devices Group (WDG).|
|Windows and Devices Group ring||After the Canary Ring approves a build this one shall be spread across the WDG ring.|
|Microsoft ring||This is the last non-public phase and will be distributed to internal Microsoft employees as soon as the Windows Insider Fast approves of a build.|
|Skip Ahead||Public||Windows Insiders in the Skip Ahead Ring get builds after they have been approved by the WDG ring. This ring allows for a limited number of public testers with the first-come, first-served approach, after which it stops accepting new devices once seats are full. Skip Ahead is the only public ring that always serves builds from the prerelease branch of Windows. I.e. devices on this ring do not receive RTM builds of Windows. During the active development phase of the next release of Windows 10, the Skip Ahead ring and the Fast ring receive identical builds concurrently. However, when development for the next release of Windows 10 is nearing completion, devices on the Skip Ahead ring will begin receiving builds for a version of Windows 10 that is two releases away. Unlike the Fast ring, this ring does not typically stop receiving preview versions of the in-box apps from the Windows Store at any point in the development cycle. These ones are immediately installed, allowing users to receive new features as soon as possible at the expense of possible bugs. This ring was added on July 26, 2017.|
|Fast||Windows Insiders in the Fast Ring get builds after they have been approved by the WDG ring. During the active development phase of the next release of Windows 10, the Fast ring and the Skip Ahead ring receive identical builds concurrently. However, when development for the next release of Windows 10 is nearing completion, devices on the Fast ring continues receiving builds for the next release that include fixes and stabilization up to, and including, the RTM build for the next release of Windows 10. Once RTM has been reached, the Fast ring will, once again, align with the Skip Ahead ring, starting the cycle anew. During the stabilization phase where the Fast ring and the Skip Ahead rings are on different development branches, the Fast ring stops receiving preview versions of the in-box apps from the Windows Store so that the apps that ship with the RTM version of the release can be thoroughly tested. These ones are immediately installed, allowing users to receive new features early at the expense of possible bugs. This ring was added on October 21, 2014, with the launch of build 9860.|
|Slow||If there are no issues with builds delivered to the Fast Ring and the Microsoft Ring, they will subsequently or concurrently be shipped to the Slow Ring. This used to be the default option for consumer versions of Windows Insider Preview until the Release Preview ring was added and was the only ring option available at launch until the Fast ring was added.|
|Release preview||This ring, introduced with build 10586 on February 10, 2016, allows Windows Insiders to get early access to patches and fixes for their current builds. The Release Preview ring also RTM versions of new OS builds before they go out to the mainstream channels. It does not deliver builds with new features as early as the Slow Ring, making it safer and less prone to bugs than the other rings. This is the default option for consumer versions of Windows Insider Preview.|
On July 17, 2017, reports began to come that Windows 10 Creators Update refused to install on PCs and tablets sporting Intel Atom "Clover Trail" processors. At first, it appeared as though this might have been a temporary block as Microsoft and hardware partners work to fix the issues preventing the operating system to run well. However, Microsoft later confirmed that devices running the "Clover Trail" Intel Atom processors would not be receiving the Creators Update, as the processors are no longer supported by Intel and does not have the appropriate firmware to properly run versions of Windows 10 newer than the Anniversary Update.
The following processors are no longer supported and will remain on Windows 10 Anniversary Update:
- Atom Z2760
- Atom Z2520
- Atom Z2560
- Atom Z2580
Because PCs with unsupported processors could not receive new features updates, Microsoft agreed to extend support for these PCs with the bug fixes and security updates for the latest compatible version of Windows 10.
Versions of Windows 10 that were released before a Microprocessor was released is also not supported and installations for those operating systems may be actively blocked. For example, Windows 10 Version 1507 LTSB will not install on Kaby Lake processors.
Microsoft initially launched Windows 10 Technical Preview for certain third-generation (x30 series) phones from their Lumia family and subsequently released it to second-generation (x20 series) devices throughout the testing phase. Some hacked their non-Lumia phones (which were not supported at the time) to download the preview builds. Microsoft responded by blocking all unsupported models. To roll back the installed technical preview back to Windows Phone 8.1, Microsoft launched Windows Device Recovery Tool that removes Windows 10 and recovers the latest officially released software and firmware.
Preview build 10080, released on May 14, 2015, was the first to support a non-Lumia device, the HTC One M8 for Windows. This was followed up by Xiaomi who, in partnership with Microsoft, released a ROM port of Windows 10 to its flagship Mi 4 handset on June 1, 2015. At that time, it was limited to certain registered users in China. Build 10080 and its follow-up build 10166 also added support for fourth-generation Lumia (x40 series) devices. As a result, all compatible Windows Phone 8 or later Lumia phones now support the preview.
In August 2015, Microsoft stated that while all Windows Phone devices, including those from Microsoft's new hardware partners announced the previous year, would receive the final version of Windows 10 Mobile, not all would receive preview builds through the Insider program. However, the company did not provide any information at the time on whether new devices would be added to the preview program. Microsoft instead focused on promoting new devices that come with Windows 10 Mobile, including their Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL flagships, and the low-cost Lumia 550 and Lumia 650. Since their release, these new Windows 10 devices became eligible to receive future updates in advance via the Insider program, beginning with build 10586 on December 4, 2015. The Windows-based LG Lancet also received this version but has not been upgraded since.
On February 19, 2016, Microsoft released the first Windows 10 Mobile "Redstone" preview, build 14267. Starting with this build, future preview versions became exclusively available for devices that were already running a non-Insider preview of the OS, except for the Mi4 ROM version. This was followed by build 14291, released for existing Windows 10 devices on March 17, 2016 in conjunction with the official RTM release of Windows 10 Mobile to third and fourth-generation Lumias. The following week, it became available to the newly upgraded older Lumias in addition to several other devices already on Windows 10 Mobile at the time.
All supported devices subsequently received Insider preview builds as far as build 15063, the "Creators Update", released on March 20, 2017. This included the official release of build 14393, the "Anniversary Update", on August 2, 2016. However, it was announced in April 2017 that many devices, including all third-generation Lumias, would not receive the RTM version of the Creators Update and further "Redstone" development builds, following feedback from users. Of the devices that remain supported, nearly all, except the Lumia 640 and its XL variant, had originally come with Windows 10 Mobile instead of Windows Phone 8.1.
|First release||Second release|
|Windows 10 Mobile devices|
|Acer||Liquid Jade Primo||No||14393||Yes||No|
|Microsoft Mobile||Lumia 550||10586||14291||Yes||Maybe|
|Lumia 950 XL||10586||Yes||Yes||Preview|
|Windows Phone 8.1 devices|
|BLU||Win HD W510U||No||14291||Yes||No|
|Win HD LTE X150Q||No||14267||Yes||No|
|Nokia/Microsoft Mobile||Lumia 430-series
Includes 430 and 435
Includes 520, 521, 525 and 526
Includes 630, 635, 636 and 638
Except 512 MB
Except 512 MB
|Lumia 640 XL||10080||14291||Yes||Preview|
|ROMs for MIUI devices|
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