Among the changes to Microsoft’s Windows Insider programs is Canary Channel

The Windows 11 logo appears on the tablet screen when a user points at it with a finger.
Image: Ascannio/Adobe Stock

If you want to try out potential Windows features and future interface changes and give Microsoft your feedback, as well as help the company launch faster by testing across a wide range of hardware, the new Canary Channel lets the Windows program Insider you choose how soon you looked. You want to get those features, based on how comfortable you are with buildings that wouldn’t be stable. The Canary Channel replaces the old Dev channel.

Last year, Microsoft made the Dev Channel more experimental, showing different versions of possible future features and user interface approaches to Insider user groups, with less documentation. Now those long-term experiments will be available through the new Canary Channel, and anyone who was previously in the Dev Channel will be automatically moved to Canary.

That includes Windows Insider for Business devices that were receiving 25000 build sets from the old Dev Channel via Windows Update for Business, Intune or Group Policy. If you have a device that was not enrolled in the Windows Insider program and you want to add it to Canary Channel, you can do it yourself for unmanaged devices: The policy for adding commercial devices to Canary Channel will be available “soon” (Microsoft couldn’t give us a date for that).

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Canary Channel builds may crash

So far, the Canary Channel looks a lot like what Windows Insiders have been getting from the Dev Channel. You are still getting a builder from the 25000 series with features that will take a lot of time to build; the builds may involve major changes to Windows at the kernel and API level; the buildings probably won’t look the same if they ship; and the builds might not translate into a future version of Windows.

What you won’t find are as many blog posts or documentation as when those builds went to the Dev Channel. Getting the canary builds to external users nearly as quickly as they’ve been getting to Windows users inside Microsoft in the past will require what Microsoft calls “a bit of validation and documentation.” There will only be blog posts for flights that add new features, and it’s unclear whether known issues and bug fixes will be covered in the release notes. The build may not be stable, and you may find that your computer is unusable until the next build, or you may even have to reinstall Windows. This was rare for users of Microsoft’s internal canaries, but it did happen.

If you’ve used canary builds of your web browser like Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome, you’re used to getting a new build every day (Firefox calls them Nightly releases). Internal canary builds of Windows are usually available every few days, and sometimes more than once a day if there was an urgent bug that needed to be fixed or rolled back. Microsoft says that it is not planning on daily builds for the Windows Canary Channel, but the builds may come more often than the Dev Channel builds.

If Canary Channel builds become more frequent as well as more experimental and less documented, you should look at the policy you have set for Windows Insider preferences in your organization. These builds are for highly technical users rather than enthusiasts or early adopters, and you may want to restrict where they can be used, as the IT organization tries to keep up with the direction of Windows .

Dev Channel is mainstream

There’s also a new Dev Channel with previews of possible new features and experiences for future versions of Windows that may or may not ship, but the 2300 series build in this channel will be more stable, and Microsoft says they are suitable for most Insiders. .

It makes a lot of sense to separate the opportunity to see future features faster and give feedback from the risk of testing the earliest builds on a wider range of hardware than Microsoft has access to internally – which is an important part of the Insiders program because it reveals bugs and hardware incompatibilities earlier but it can also be difficult if it means crashes or features that don’t work on your device.

Beta and Release Preview Channels

That leaves the Beta Channel (series builds 22000) to test what will likely ship with more reliable builds that have already been validated on a wider range of devices, and the Release Preview Channel as a way to try out settings and key features has already been decided and will be shipped in a future update to Windows 10 or Windows 11. Microsoft says the Beta Channel is where Insider feedback will have the most impact, so IT teams may want to prioritizing the trial of these acquisitions where there are issues. they are trying to give up using the Release Preview Channel for some Windows users to get useful new features faster (Figure A).

Figure A

The new Insider channels make it clearer what the first glimpse of the future might be and what you can use to prepare for the next shipping version of Windows.
Image: Microsoft. The new Insider channels make it clearer what the first glimpse of the future might be and what you can use to prepare for the next shipping version of Windows.

Enthusiasts may enjoy hunting through Insider builds for features that have been turned off for a hint about the future (this could happen if a feature isn’t finished or Microsoft doesn’t want to test it extensively). Features enabled in the build for one channel may be disabled in the build for another channel. The Windows team won’t try to stop people from digging into the builds, but don’t expect to hear anything official about features Microsoft isn’t ready to test.

Change Windows Insider channels

You may want to change which Windows Insider builds you get with these new channel options.

If you’re in the Beta or Release Preview Channel, you can change your device to the Dev or Canary Channel by changing your Insider settings in Windows Settings.

If you were in the old Dev Channel and you like the idea of ​​more stable builds while still seeing Microsoft’s new ideas for Windows fairly quickly, you can’t opt ​​out of being moved to the Canary Channel . Instead, you have to perform a clean install of Windows (Insiders who have problems using the Windows 11 media creation tool to do this will be able to order a clean install kit from Microsoft) and then select your Windows Insider channel again.

That’s because you can go from a lower build number of Windows to a higher build number, but you can’t go back from a higher build number to a lower one.

Likewise, once you’re in the Dev Channel, it’s harder to switch to anything other than Canary, which will always have higher build numbers. Microsoft said there may be times when the Beta or Release Preview Channel has the same number of builds as the Dev Channel, at which point you can switch channels. Use the list of build numbers on the Windows Insider Flight Hub to keep an eye out.

Because the Beta Channel isn’t tied to specific Windows releases, you get a sneak peek at features that may arrive in six or 16 months. But that also means there’s no easy way to opt out of staying on Windows Insider Builds the way you can with the Release Preview Channel every time a new version of Windows is launched. You can simply select Stop Getting Build Previews under Settings | Windows Update | Windows Insider program when the build you’re running is available as a stable shipping version of Windows.

Microsoft now provides occasional off-ramps to the Beta Channel: If you want to unregister your device, you need to do so very quickly because the current window only runs until March 8, 2023 (the it was a day after Patch Tuesday which delivers new the Beta Channel). If you miss this window, there will likely be another off-ramp when the next annual release of Windows occurs.

If a future off-ramp matches the correct build numbers, you may be able to go from the Dev Channel to the Beta Channel and then turn off the Windows Insider builds. But if you want to switch from the new Canary Channel to any other Windows Insider channel or current Windows release, you’ll need to uninstall Windows, so make sure you’re comfortable doing that before signing up.

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