Microsoft launches new Canary channel to test new versions of Windows

Microsoft is announcing important changes to the Windows Insider Preview program today. These will allow the company to begin testing versions of the Windows operating system to lay the groundwork for the next major release of the Windows platform from the new Canary Channel, which will receive experimental and unstable builds more regularly.

The company says this new “Canary Channel” will receive builds of Windows focused on “platform changes that require longer runtimes…”. Some examples include major changes to the Windows kernel, new APIs, and more. As a result, Microsoft says these builds are likely to contain major bugs and often don’t get much documentation detailing new additions.

Microsoft describes these pre-release builds as “hot out of the press”, which means the builds will spend significantly less time internally testing before release. Historically, Microsoft has been testing a new preview build of Windows for about a week before giving it the green light to roll out. However, it looks like this process will be significantly reduced for the Canary Canal.

Additionally, all members of the Insider Dev Channel are currently being automatically moved to the new Canary Channel as the Dev Channel is “downgraded” to a new build line of 23,000. The Canary Channel will continue to push the 25000 series builds, which means insiders who want to stay on the channel Dev, this will require you to reinstall Windows 11.

Microsoft describes this operation as a “restart” of the Dev channel, but clarifies that the purpose of this channel remains the same. This means it will continue to receive experimental features, some of which may never arrive and are not tied to a specific update. But the underlying platform will now be more stable, as it won’t be much different from Windows 11.

Separate Windows 11 from Windows 12

According to people familiar with Microsoft’s plans, this new engineering cycle means there are essentially two Windows development paths going on at the same time: one for Windows 11 updates and one for Windows vNext (Windows 12), which is currently targeting the release window. 2024.

Internally, Microsoft used the 23000 build line to develop new features for Windows 11, which were then “back-integrated” into the 22000 build line for the beta channel. This is why you have sometimes seen new features appear first in the beta channel, as the dev channel has previously tested builds of the 25000 series and was ahead of the features developed in the 23000 series.

With the transition from the development channel to the 23000 line, features should again naturally move from the development channel to the beta channel and then to pre-release. For 25000 series builds, Microsoft uses a process called “direct integration” to integrate Windows 11 development features into Windows vNext builds.

With all of this in mind, it’s important to remember that this is not 100% clear. But in general, the Canary channel will test the platform for Windows vNext, and everyone else will test the current feature updates for Windows 11. Simply put, any build above 25,000 is for Windows vNext, and any build below is for Windows 11.

To sum up

There are currently four channels of insider testing that Microsoft will use to test future Windows changes:

  • Canary Channel: Includes the latest platform changes early in the development cycle. Builds can be unstable and are intended for very technical users.
  • Developer Channel: Includes the latest versions of Windows 11 with new features. Builds may be unstable and are intended for enthusiasts.
  • Beta Channel: Includes builds of Windows 11 that are more stable than developer builds. The builds have updates verified by Microsoft and are intended for early adopters.
  • Release Preview Channel – Includes previews of fixes and new features that will be released soon. The builds are very stable and are intended for commercial users who want to preview the changes that will be rolled out or access a new version of Windows before it goes public.

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