The way Microsoft works with participants of the Windows Insider program to develop and test Windows 10 is undergoing major changes. Starting with today’s release, Microsoft will no longer designate a preview version of Fast Ring that will be rolled out as part of a specific version of Windows 10.
This means that from now on, internal builds released to the Fast ring can include features that may not be immediately visible in the next public release of the operating system.
Microsoft essentially turns the Fast ring into a permanent beta ring for Windows 10. This is similar to how Edge Canary and Dev branches work, as these features are shown, but are not always guaranteed to be included with the next stable version of the browser.
Sometimes these features can remain in the Canary or Dev branches for months before they can be released steadily.
Microsoft will use Slow and Release Preview rings to test builds that are part of a specific release. After a certain period in the Fast ring, Microsoft will take a snapshot of all the features and changes currently being tested, fork them into the release branch, and start publishing these builds into the Slow and Release Preview rings, and then finally roll over Open to the public months later.
Today’s fast ring version is 19536, and Microsoft says these versions are not part of the next version of desktop Windows 10 codenamed 20H2. Some features shown in the Fast ring may enter the 20H2 version, but the 20H2 of the Windows 10 desktop is like 19H2, not a mature version like 20H1.
This is a big deal because it means that Microsoft now has more breathing room when building and testing new features for Windows 10 and Windows 10X. Just because a feature appears in the fast ring does not mean that it needs to be completed in time in the next version of Windows 10. It can stay there for as long as Microsoft needs.
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According to sources, many upcoming changes are also related to Windows 10X. Since Windows 10X is only available on new devices, Microsoft cannot test it with Insiders. However, what it can do is test specific features built against Windows 10X on the desktop version.
The Fast ring has nothing to do with any particular version, and Microsoft can use it as an experimental ring to implement features that are not intended to be released on the desktop.
Since Windows 10X will be available in the fall of 2020, the “shipped version” of the operating system will technically be 20H2, but since 20H2 on desktops is a smaller 19H2 style update, this 195XX version will be Windows 10X 20H2 version.
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The 195XX version for desktops will not be released publicly. Therefore, once the “RTM” version is declared internally for Windows 10X, the equivalent version of the Windows 10 desktop will not be released to the public, and the version in the Fast ring will continue to test newer versions as usual.
If we use Microsoft’s internal codename, the 195XX version is part of the Manganese version, which is only available for Windows 10X. Subsequent releases codenamed Iron (or 21H1) should work for both Windows 10 and Windows 10X.