Microsoft reboots Windows Insider program, adds Canary Channel for highly technical users

Kip Kniskern

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Microsoft has announced some significant changes to the Windows Insider program with the introduction of a new Canary Channel. The new channel essentially split the current Dev Channel into two parts, a “hot off the presses” Canary Channel, offering early looks at platform changes that require long lead times (and aren’t tied to a specific Windows release), and a “rebooted” Dev Channel, which will offer a bit more stability than the new Canary Channel but still not tied to a Windows release, with some tested features potentially never shipping.

Microsoft has already been testing some of these features in the current Dev Channel with 25000 series builds and with these changes, users currently in the Dev Channel on series 25000+ builds will be moved to the new Canary Channel. This includes “commercial devices configured for the Dev Channel on 25000 series builds managed by IT administrators via Windows Update for Business policy, Microsoft Intune or through Group Policy.”

The current Beta and Release Preview Channels are not changing, and a quick summation of the various channel build numbers is as follows:

  • Canary Channel: 25000 series.
  • Dev Channel: 23000 series.
  • Beta Channel: 22000 series.
  • Release Preview: Released versions of Windows 10 and Windows 11.

What this means

For current Dev Channel Insiders on 25000+ series builds, you will be moved to the new Canary Channel. If you prefer to remain on the still experimental but more stable Dev Channel, you’ll need to pave your system and do a new clean install while opting in to the Dev Channel.  Microsoft will be providing further guidance and a “clean installation kit,” provided to Windows Insiders via an email.

Notable differences in the Canary Channel

While the Canary Channel will function in a similar manner to how the Dev Channel has worked, there are some siginificant differences. First, these Canary Channel builds will be released “soon after they are built.” That means there will be very little validation and documentation available, and Microsoft will not publish a blog post for every Canary Channel flight, but will post a Canary Channel blog post when new features are available. Dev, Beta, and Release Preview builds will get blog posts as they do now.

The new Canary Channel builds “could include major issues that could result in not being able to use your PC correctly or even in some rare cases require you to reinstall Windows.”

What do you think, do these changes make the Windows Insider program better? Which Channel suits you best? Let us know in the comments below