Confusion reigns: what’s going on with the Windows Insider Program?

  Windows Insider

Yesterday, Microsoft further clouded the testing of Windows Insider with the release of Windows 10 Insider version 19H2 to the Release Preview Ring. Several Insiders, including our own Laurent Giret and Paul Thurrott (premium content), came out more confused than ever. Here are a number of problems at stake, including that Microsoft has not done a stellar job in explaining. Let's take a closer look:

Problem # 1: choose a name and keep it

Can we finally admit that the Windows 10 version designation has been completely out of control? Update May 2019, 1903, 19H1, blah, blah, blah, why do we need so many names for the same thing? Microsoft has understandably been reluctant to use a version number like 1903 (March 2019) too soon and paint in a corner if things get delayed (and how many versions of Windows 10 were actually sent the month indicated in the version number? Not many). So why use them, or the "marketing name" (my term for the "I like from" May 2019 update ") that doesn't do anything good and just confuse things. Microsoft moved to the name tag "20H1" and it works: it does not compromise too much, it is descriptive, brief and to the point, and basically there is no reason to use anything else. Isn't it time to establish a name structure after 4 years of this nonsense?

Problem # 2: It's a major / minor release cycle now, can we admit it?

Company users have been horrified for a long time The proliferation of feature releases for Windows 10, and Microsoft finally seems to have heard, turning at 19H2 in a smaller launch cycle, although they couldn't resist introducing some features between security and performance fixes. However, Microsoft continues to dance around the change, without going out and saying (or sticking to a r regimen "featureless in the fall") that we have entered a cycle of major / minor release. All right, we understand, just relax and admit it!

Problem # 3: Now we have also gone and spoiled the Rings

Microsoft simply cannot go out of its own way when it comes to nomenclature With the advent of the Insider program, a perfectly good name scheme emerged using an analogy of Ring: Fast Ring for adventurers (and oh, wait, Skip Ahead for those who want to be faster than fast!), Slow Ring for the cautious and Release Preview for business-type testers who just wanted an advantage in implementing new functions. Then 19H2 appeared and spoiled everything, organizing the Slow Ring for its minor launch cycle test and making a mess with Fast and Skip Ahead Rings in the process. Again, by adopting a major / minor release cycle, H2 releases could have their own rings, leaving H1 Skip Ahead, Fast and Slow alone, with perhaps even a new use for Skip Ahead, see below.

Problem # 4: A / B tests are here to stay

The problem of A / B tests with Windows Insiders continues to frustrate evaluators, especially when one of the promises of the Insider program has been to gain access to things new first. In fact, I held that point a few months ago. However, it is time for Insiders to take over the idea that A / B tests are here to stay. It is simply a tool too valuable for Microsoft engineers. However, as I said, the Insider program will never be a controlled experiment, and Insiders will find ways to get the last bits in some way. So why not adopt the Skip Ahead ring, turn it into a sandbox for cutting-edge Insiders, with access to all the latest features? There would still be many Insiders in the Fast and Slow Rings for the A / B tests, and everyone would be happy.


Someone at Microsoft needs to enter and clean this program. Like many initiatives that grow a little too much, too fast, it is becoming difficult to handle, confusing and, in addition, it is not as fun as it used to be. We will remain avid Insiders, and we sincerely want to help, but we need more than taco hats and ninja cats. It's time for some adult supervision.

Further reading: 19H2, 20H1, Opinion, Windows 10, Windows Insider

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