Microsoft splits the Beta channel with two builds

Road Split

Shades of 2019. Longtime Insiders will recall a move that Microsoft made a couple of years back when it split up the Slow ring of its preview program into two categories. One got builds with new features, while the other did not.

Well, the company has tried something similar here, again.

Redmond has just released two new builds to the Beta channel of its preview program, with one group getting a build with new feature turned on by default, while the other, smaller group getting a new build without new features enabled.

Microsoft explains this change of strategy in elaborate detail:

“This approach will help us validate our ability to release updates with features turned off by default. It will also allow us to have greater insight into the impact of enabling new features. By comparing feedback and usage data between Insiders in these two groups, we will get to see if a feature is causing issues with reliability, for example.

Based on this insight, it will help us make decisions on whether to make new features available for more Insiders by increasing their rollout or, in some cases, disable a feature to address bugs. The goal is to use the comparison data to ensure the best possible experience as we try out new features and experience with Windows Insiders in the Beta Channel.

This approach is being used for the Beta Channel only and is not indicative of any changes or plans for final feature rollouts. The enablement package artificially increments the build number for the update with new features getting rolled out and turned on to make it easier to differentiate from devices with the update with features off by default. As a reminder, features we try out with Windows Insiders will ship when they are ready and not every feature that we try out in the Beta Channel will ship to general customers.”

The builds in question are build 22621.290 and build 22622.90.

The latter will have new features and options getting rolled out and turned on via enablement packages. The former are the ones that will find that their new features are turned off by default on their installations.

Do note that the majority of the Insiders in the Beta channel will automatically get builds in the 22622 range. Insiders who land in the group with the features turned off can still check for updates and choose to install the update that will have features rolling out.

You can take a look at the two builds and what they offer in the announcement post above.