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Tech News Microsoft announces Fast Ring changes with latest Windows 10 Insider build 19536

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Throughout the history of the Windows Insider program, new features have been introduced have been tied to a specific release. Sometimes, features have been delayed, or even introduced as “coming in a future release,” but for the most part, the plan has been to introduce a feature in terms of when it would launch. Today, according to a post announcing Windows 10 Insider build 19536 for the Fast Ring, that has changed.

From now on, the Fast Ring will receive builds from the RS_PRERELEASE development branch, which is where Windows developers check in their latest code changes to the OS. The blog post explains:

Moving forward, the Fast ring will receive builds directly from this active development branch and new features will show up in these builds first. While features in the active development branch may be slated for a future Windows 10 release, they are no longer matched to a specific Windows 10 release. This means that builds from the active development branch simply reflect the latest work in progress code from our engineers. New features and OS improvements done in this branch during these development cycles will show up in future Windows 10 releases when they are ready. And we may deliver these new features and OS improvements as full OS build updates or servicing releases.

We heard the feedback from Insiders in the Fast ring loud and clear that the way we were doing Skip Ahead was a little confusing and frustrating for those who didn’t get a chance to opt-in before the limit was reached. With the changes mentioned above, Insiders in the Fast ring will always receive builds with the freshest code from our engineers regardless of branching off for a specific release. Everyone in the Fast ring is always moving forward!

Back in November, Microsoft eliminated the Skip Ahead Ring, which had been used to begin testing cutting edge features, but they were still for the most part tied to a release cycle. We wondered about A/B testing, the system where Microsoft “turns on” features, or parts of features for only a subset of Insiders, and that system will still be in place:

We will still do A/B testing in all the rings. Changes today is specific only to builds.

— Brandon LeBlanc (@brandonleblanc) December 16, 2019

Of course, Microsoft is going to want to get new features out to users as soon as they’re ready, but this new system should eliminate having to backtrack on saying a feature would be ready for a certain release, and then having to pull back on that “promise.” The announcement doesn’t do anything to clarify what’s going on with a major/minor release cycle, in fact it may cloud the issue a bit with “we may deliver these new features and OS improvements as full OS build updates or servicing releases.” We’ll have to see how that all plays out.

Quick update, asking again on Twitter, and Brandon LeBlanc confirms that Fast Ring is “Active Development,” but Slow Ring will remain tied to a specific release cycle, for now that’s 20H1:

Fast is Active Development Branch and Slow is on 20H1 for the foreseeable future.

— Brandon LeBlanc (@brandonleblanc) December 16, 2019

For now, get to downloading Windows Insider build 19536!
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