Alongside its rollout of Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview build 10586.107 for the Fast ring, Microsoft announced that the Windows Insider Program will now get a new option for members to get early access to new builds before their general release.
While the Fast and Slow rings are already familiar to Insiders, Microsoft's Gabe Aul said today that the company is now introducing a third option for both Mobile and PC users: the Release Preview ring.
Here's how the three rings stack up:
Fast – Best for Insiders who enjoy being the first to get access to builds and feature updates, with some risk to their devices in order to identify issues, and provide suggestions and ideas to make Windows software and devices great.
Slow – Best for Insiders who enjoy getting early access to builds and feature updates, with less risk to their devices, and still want to provide feedback to make Windows software and devices great.
Release Preview – Best for Insiders who enjoy getting early access to updates for the Current Branch, Microsoft applications, and drivers, with minimal risk to their devices, and still want to provide feedback to make Windows devices great.
So how does the Release Preview ring differ from the Slow ring? The key is in understanding the difference between the Windows Development Branch and the Current Branch that Gabe mentioned above.
The Current Branch is focused on making improvements to the most recent major Windows 10 release that's already in the hands of users - at the moment, that's the November Update (known also as Version 1511), with build numbers beginning with 10586.
The Development Branch focuses on the next phase of Windows development, looking beyond the latest major release to the big improvements and new features that will come together to form the next big thing for Windows 10 - i.e. the Redstone updates that will arrive this year, with build numbers higher than 11xxx (the most recent is 14257).
Windows Insiders in the Fast and Slow rings will continue to receive builds from the Development Branch, but the Release Preview ring will offer access to Current Branch builds shortly before they make their way to 'real world' users via Windows Update.
Further details on all of this are available via the Insider Hub app on Windows 10.