Check your rings: Windows 11 testers have the rare opportunity to switch
Today, Microsoft is set to promote the next feature update of Windows 11 to the Beta channel of the Insider Program. That means one thing: it’s time to check your channels. If you want to move from Dev to Beta, you can do that for the first time in a while. If you want to switch from Beta to Release Preview or production, it’s your last chance.
How the Windows Insider Program works
Here’s how this works. The Dev channel is for testing out new features, and those features aren’t tied to a specific feature update. They could go in the next update, a later one, or they could get scrapped entirely. You’re also on the cutting edge, so you might be sacrificing system stability.
The Beta channel is for testing out feature updates that are a closer picture of what will actually ship. The fact that Windows 11 build 22581 is arriving in the Beta channel signifies that this is the next feature update for the OS, even if it’s not final. And as mentioned, the version number will be 22H2. Eventually, the Beta channel will switch to getting serviced with cumulative updates while the Dev channel still gets prerelease builds.
Finally, the Release Preview channel is specifically for updates that are expected to roll out as-is. These are usually previews of cumulative updates, but you’ll see the latest feature updates in Release Preview a couple of weeks before they ship.
Why it’s important to check your channels now
The way Windows updates work is pretty simple. Your PC has a certain build number, and when it checks for updates, it basically sends that build number to the server. If that build number is lower than the one on the server, the server sends you the newer build.
That means that you’ll never get an update that will bring you back to an earlier version of Windows. The only way to do that, unless the previous version is stored on your PC, is to do a clean installation of the OS. That’s probably not something that you want to do.
If you’ve been testing Dev channel builds, then you should know this well. Now that the Dev and Beta channels will line up for a time, you get a somewhat brief chance to switch to the Beta channel from Dev. And this is your last chance for a while to switch from Beta to either Release Preview or production. You can change your channel before the new build installs, and once it does install, you get 10 days to roll back. After those 10 days are up, you’ll have to do a reset to roll back to the shipping version of Windows 11.
How to change your channel in the Windows Insider Program
Switching channels is easy. Here’s what you need to do:
- Go to Settings -> Windows Update -> Windows Insider Program.
- Click on ‘Choose your Insider settings’.
- Select the channel you want to move to. If it’s a ring that your PC is ineligible for, it will be grayed out.
You’ll also see an option to stop receiving Windows Insider builds. Depending on which channel you’re on, you’ll have the option to automatically unenroll when the next version of Windows 11 is released, or unenroll immediately.