Do you like to always use the really newest Windows version? Even if something is sometimes wrong or not completely finished? Then Microsoft offers a nice new option with Windows 10. With a few clicks, you can give yourself access to the versions of Windows that Microsoft has not even officially released and you can be the first to explore all new possibilities. So, you always have the latest Windows version with Windows Fast Ring.
Only a few years ago, Microsoft worked in secret for years on a new version of Windows to release it in one go and with a lot of drum roll. Those days are over. On Windows 10 is now working continuously and developers often spend several times a day, a new version of the operating system. Most versions are only for internal test work, but more and more some of these versions are also available for anyone who wants to work with the latest Windows. Microsoft has even made a special project: The Windows Insider program. If you are in that program, you will regularly receive an update that ordinary Windows users will not get, after which you will have the latest version of Windows on your PC, directly from the Microsoft software factory.
01 Versions and builds of Windows
Every version of Windows that roll out of the software factory is recognizable by the unique ‘build number’, the serial number of the version. This has always been the case and is also easy to see. Click Start, type the winver command and press Enter. The About Windows window displays the version number and build number. For example, the official first version 1507 of Windows 10 had the build number 10.0.10240. When that version was distributed, the Microsoft developers were already a few builds further. At the time this article was written, the most recent build number was 10.0.16193. That build is not an official release, but a version from the Windows Insider program, which allows you to use these intermediate versions of Windows on your PC.
Only the developers in the Windows team have access to all new versions of the operating system. They are in the so-called ‘Canary Ring’, the inner ring of people around Windows. If they find a version good enough, they release it for the developers who work on other products within Microsoft, such as applications and drivers. This group is called the ‘Windows and Devices Group Ring’. If they also have few problems with a new build, then the Windows team releases that build to the so-called ‘Fast Ring’ users. That is a large group of people who have indicated that they would like to receive the newest versions out of a hobby or interest. If their response is positive, a build will also be available to all Windows Insiders in the ‘Slow Ring’. To be in one of the first two rings,
02 On the Windows Blog, you often read first about the following Fast and Slow Ring releases.
From waterfall to ‘agile’
Initially, the software was developed according to the waterfall method. Developers sometimes worked for years on a new version of a product, and only when everything was ready, was it quickly tested and the software then sent to the customers. This method of software development has many drawbacks: the software almost always comes later than agreed; only has a part of the agreed functionality, and is full of mistakes because one can only start testing at the end and it is often no longer possible to repair the errors that are discovered. It is also virtually impossible to add new functionality after the developers have started their work.
These problems are so fundamental that a lot of software is now being developed in an ‘agile’ way (the English term agile means agile). In smaller teams, only one piece of the total product is worked on, and at least every few weeks a new, working version of the entire product is delivered. Developers and testers work closely together and errors are discovered and repaired during development. Microsoft is now also working in this way.
At the bottom left of the desktop, you can see the version number of the Insider Build even more accurately.
How you will be reading Windows Insider later, but before you do that there are still a few things to think about. A Windows Insider build has always been less well tested than an official ‘real’ new Windows version. There is, therefore, a greater chance that something goes wrong or does not work properly. It may also be that a function that you frequently used has suddenly disappeared or does not work well for a few weeks. If you are against it and you have a fast internet connection without a data limit, you can become a good Windows Insider and test the latest Windows builds. Moreover, no additional requirements are imposed on the PC, as long as Windows 10 is running properly, it is sufficient.
03 Every PC running Windows 10 is also suitable for Insider builds.
In the Fast Ring, you sometimes get a new Windows version every week on the PC
04 Recovery and backup
Important before you start with the Insider builds is to provide for system recovery and data backup. Make sure that you can always return to the computer in case of problems before you use the intermediate versions of Windows and make sure that you do not lose data because of the test versions. For system recovery, there are several options such as System Restore from Windows 10 and the Recovery Station, but our favorite is still a full backup program like Acronis True Image or the free EaseUS Todo Backup Free. With this, you can easily create a system recovery disk to start the PC and restore a Windows image, and you can also back up all data safely. Keep the backups preferably on an external USB drive or a nas, so that the backup is insensitive to system errors and malware.
04 Although Windows also offers its own recovery options, we remain a fan of Acronis True Image for system and data backup.
The success of the Windows Insider program was the reason for Microsoft to also make pre-release versions of Office available. Use your Office 365, log in at office.com and click Sign up. Log in with the Microsoft account that you have linked to your version of Office. Click Install Office / Language and installation options / Additional installation options. From the Other versions of Office menu, select one of the Office Insider versions. You can choose between 32 and 64 bit and again Slow and Fast. Click Install.
When you follow this article, it is important that your current Windows 10 installation is up-to-date. In earlier versions of Windows 10, the procedure is in a different way. We assume that at least the Creators Update is available on your system, which has been offered by Microsoft since April / May. Check which version of Windows 10 you are on (see step 1). Behind Version should be at least 1703. If this is not the case, go to Settings / Update and Security / Windows Update and download updates (with possibly restarting your computer) until you see the message “Your device is up-to-date”. Cannot you? Download below Update now a separate update tool. In this way, the latest Windows 10 version is also installed.
06 Log in and select ring
To start with the Windows Insider program, you first close all programs. Then go to Start / Settings / Update and Security / Windows Insider program. Click on Get started. To join you must sign up: click on Link an account. This account must be a Microsoft account, such as a Hotmail or Live mail address, or another email address associated with the Microsoft service. Select the account and click Continue. Indicate at what rate you want to receive the new builds. There is a choice between Release Preview (you only get the near-official versions), Slow (you get a new version more often, but one that has already been tested better) and Fast (you get the newest public available test version almost every week). Select your preference and click on Confirm. Microsoft explains what this means, click on Confirm again. To make the choice final, the PC must restart, click Restart Now, or Restart Later if you want to finish some other things first.
06 To participate in the Windows Insider program, you must log in with a Microsoft account.
07 If you are already Insider
If you are already Windows Insider, the previous screen will look slightly different. As soon as you have the first Slow or Fast-build on the PC, you can no longer opt for the Release Preview. You can then only switch between Slow and Fast. In the last Fast-build the menu was only in English and the choice was what you want to get new builds? / Slow or Fast.
07 After the first Insider build has been installed, you can only choose Fast and Slow.
08 Windows Update
Microsoft distributes the new builds via Windows Update, just like all small updates. In addition, without the first thing you notice, the entirely new Windows Insider build is downloaded first and then you get the message that you can upgrade. Although you have to wait a lot, it is wise to adjust the Windows Update settings for the times when it can install new versions. Click Start / Settings / Update and Security / Windows Update. Now choose Change usage times under Settings for updates. Here you can indicate between which Start time and End time you use the computer and you certainly do not want the computer to restart to install a new version. Set your times and confirm with Save. Under Options for the restart and Advanced options, you will find more options to send updates and the reboot. Incidentally, an Insider build is a complete reinstallation that can take an hour or longer, and in the meantime, you cannot just use the computer!
08 Avoid surprises and set the usage times in a generous way.
The installation of an Insider build can take an hour and longer
09 Download faster
Downloading a new Insider build happens unnoticed. The technology of the underlying Microsoft Unified Update Platform (UUP) has been significantly improved so that new builds are smaller and faster to download, but it is especially a lot of waiting until the download is ready to install the new build. You do not have much influence there, except that you can leave the computer on for longer. Fortunately, you can continue to use the computer during the download. A trick to speed up the download is to follow the Windows Blog or better the corresponding Twitter account. New Insider builds are always announced there. If there is a new build, then temporarily disable the Energy Management. You do this via Start / Setting and then look for energy in the window at the top. Select Power Options and click Change the schedule settings. Select at the computer in Sleep mode, select Never. Leave the PC on and wait for the new build to arrive. Only after installing it, you put the energy scheme back to its normal position.
09 After signing up you still have no influence on the pace at which new builds are downloaded.
The autumn updates
All Insider builds that come out now are in preparation for the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. That is the next version of Windows 10 that will be available as a free update for all Windows 10 users this fall. This update is a follow-up to the Creators Update that came out in May 2017. The main new features focus on synchronization between different platforms such as Android and iOS on which Microsoft software works, by being able to continue where you were on another device, regardless of which device you are working on. And with Microsoft Fluent, there is a new standard for what programs should look like to give them unambiguous design regardless of the device. Furthermore, the Linux support will be extended with USB communication,
10 The first Insider build
If a new build is available, it is downloaded by Windows Update. You can see the progress of this via Start / Settings / Update and Security / Windows Update. There is the next update with the comment that this is a Windows 10 Insider Preview and with a build number. When the download is complete, Windows will wait to prepare for the installation until the PC is free according to the installation schedule of the Windows Updates. If you do not want to wait, click on Install now. When the preparation is complete, the installation can be carried out: click on Reboot now. During the installation, the PC will often restart several times and even after the first login, it will take a while before you can really use the computer again.
10 The PC is rebooted several times before the installation of a new Insider build, and even after logging in for the first time, a lot of time is still required to complete the installation.
11 Give feedback
With an Insider build on the PC, you are actually a beta tester from Microsoft. You also get occasional pop-ups with questions about whether you want to fill in a short questionnaire or answer a question such as how fast that build is or how stable. By working on this, you give Microsoft important information about the quality of the new builds. But you can also report unsolicited errors, give your opinion or exchange ideas with other testers. Click Start, type Feedback and start the Feedback – hub. You are automatically logged in with your Microsoft account and can rate the currently installed version via Version, but you can also use Feedback Search for what others have said in the left margin or add comments yourself via Add new feedback. Preferably in English, that helps the developers understand it, even if it is not necessary.
11 Through the Feedback hub, you can comment on the new builds and also see what others have already reported.
A problem with Windows 10 is privacy. Microsoft uses the operating system to collect data about the user and for the Insider-builds that is extra. Where in the normal version you can disable espionage, this does not apply to Insider builds. Open the Privacy section via Start / Settings. A number of options are similar to the normal Windows, but everything under Feedback and diagnosis is (literally) “managed by the Windows Insider program”. You cannot change that. According to Microsoft, that data is essential to improve the quality of the new Windows by detecting and solving problems that occur (such as crashes and system errors). It is the price you pay for being allowed to use these latest builds.
Do you want the new builds, but still not all that data share, then you can try it with one of the famous tools to make Windows safe? Search with Google for ShutUp10from the German R & D Software or the less sophisticated and sometimes more difficult to find Destroy Windows 10 Spying. Use of this is explicitly at your own risk and the results in combination with the Insider-builds vary. Destroy Windows 10 Spying often does the best, but it also sometimes ends up in badly blocked settings by Microsoft. Whatever tool you use, realize that if your privacy is really dear to you, you might not be a Windows Insider and simply limit yourself to the official builds with the maximum options to protect your privacy. In step 15, you can see how you stop receiving Windows Insider builds.
12 Because Microsoft wants to know exactly what goes wrong with its pre-release versions, you cannot disable the collection and sharing of certain data.
A new non-officially launched Windows version may mean that some things are not quite right. That is why we emphasized the importance of backing up. If something goes wrong, Windows Error Reporting will report it to Microsoft. But try to solve it yourself. It is especially important that you continue to check whether your security is working properly. Because he has to do well. For example, Insider Build 15025 always has a fight with Kaspersky security. Click Start and type security. Start with a click the Windows Defender – Security Center. Here you can see in the (new) security center whether you are properly protected. Everything with a red cross deserves attention.
13 When a new build is installed, check that the security is in order.
If you want maximum privacy, do not use Insider builds
14 Extra protection
Now that the Security Center is open, you can also give the security of the PC a small boost. Click on Virus and threat protection and Windows shows which security is active. Then click the arrow behind Windows Defender Antivirus options to view the additional options. Turn on the option you can continue using your current provider and specify that Windows checks the antivirus periodic threats to On. With this option enabled, the owner installed security remains the main security, but occasionally the Windows Defender will scan the computer for malware as extra security.
14 Make Windows 10 safer by occasionally allowing Windows Defender to scan for malware.
If you do not like those many updates, click Start / Settings / Update and Security / Windows Insider Program / No more receiving Insider Preview versions. You can choose to stop completely in the latest build and return to the latest official Windows version via the Let me go back to the latest Windows version option. But there are also a number of less rigorous options. If you only want to receive preview releases (and therefore from the Fast or Slow Ring steps), then choose Switch to a less risky and less frequent schedule. If you do not want new builds temporarily, for example, because you experienced problems with a version, choose the Pause updates temporarily option. If you still want to receive releases, but after the next official release, click on Keep giving me builds until the next Windows release.
If you really want to go all the way back to it, it is better to carry out a system recovery the moment you started the Windows Insider program. Use the program with which you have made the system recovery earlier in this article, as in our case Acronis True Image. Restoring a system image will completely cancel the Windows Update setting to receive Insider builds.