Microsoft warns: The Windows 10 beta pace is about to speed up

Insiders who choose the Fast lane will get fresh code more often. But to stay safe, switch Windows 10 preview updates to the Slow ring

Microsoft warns: The Windows 10 beta pace is about to speed up
Martin Lewison (Creative Commons BY or BY-SA)
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Windows 10 beta testers woke up this morning to a new notice on Insider Hub. As Windows 10 spokesman Gabe Aul warned yesterday, this announcement suggests that those who aren't up for an old-fashioned beta roller-coaster ride would be better off in the slow lane.

Here's what the announcement says:

Fast is about to get faster.

We've heard your feedback asking for more frequent builds -- and as Gabe mentioned in his recent blog post, we've probably been too conservative about pushing builds to the Fast ring for Windows Insiders. So we're preparing to speed up the build releases for those who want to live life in the Fast lane.

The good news is that Insiders who choose Fast will be getting fresher code, with all of the features and fixes, more often. The potential downside is that as we go faster, the builds will likely include more bugs with fewer workarounds. If this doesn't sound like something you want to deal with, now is your time to switch to Slow.

On your PC, you can change this option in Settings > Update & recovery > Advanced options. On your phone, you can change this setting in the Windows Insider app.

Going forward there will be a more discernible difference between the cadence and level of polish of preview builds sent to our Fast and Slow rings. Insiders who choose to keep the default setting of Slow will still receive preview builds, however they will arrive less frequently and with a higher degree of polish.

For those who have been through beta testing cycles before, Aul's post earlier this week didn't offer much illumination -- it's primarily a summary of the trials and tribulations of running a beta, and deciding what to release and when. Fair enough -- those of us who remember getting Windows beta refresh diskettes every Friday in the mail can sympathize. Setting up milestone betas is not an easy task.

Microsoft has promised it would accelerate the pace of beta drops, but so far it's doing fine. By my reckoning, the first build, 9879, appeared on Nov. 12 and rolled out to the Slow lane on Nov 25. Build 9926 came out on Jan. 23, which is either 73 or 86 days later. Your calculator may be better than mine, but I think 73 days after Jan. 23 is April 6. If Microsoft releases a beta sooner than April 6, it'll be accelerating the pace of beta drops.

Rumor has it Microsoft has held off on distributing its latest beta candidate because of a serious, known bug. For new beta testers -- particularly those who (foolishly!) run the beta on production machines -- that may sound ominous. Experienced beta testers figure it comes with the territory. No pain, no gain -- it's the way betas work.

Russian leaker WZor has recently published an extensive series of screenshots of build 10036, which was compiled on March 6. That's presumed to be a relatively stable build, although it may contain data-eating bugs. In the past few hours, WZor promised that it will leak build 10036 in short order. Historically, WZor has posted leaked builds on the weekend -- Sunday, Russian time, is a particularly sweet spot.

This new official approach should help to satisfy the folks who have been whinging about the lack of a recent beta. Or maybe not: Whingers gonna whinge. As for the folks who complain about the 3D appearance of the Recycle Bin icon -- gimme a break.

I'm looking for new features, whether they're stable or not. I want to see Project Spartan (which apparently isn't included in build 10036). I'd like to kick Cortana around a bit (metaphorically, of course). Where's the new Metro Mail/Universal Outlook? What's going to happen to the Calendar? The People app? Can Microsoft pull a Control Panel blivet, stuffing 10 pounds of legacy into a 5-pound Metro bag? When can we start customizing the Start menu? How are we going to get updates?

Those are the important questions, and I don't really care if I have to reboot every 15 minutes.

Go get 'em, Gabe.

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