Most rings of the Xbox Insider Program are now open to everyone, but there's a catch

Microsoft today announced that it's restructuring the Xbox Insider Program, and the news that most will be pleased to hear is that most rings are now open to everyone. Well, there's still a catch.

First of all, if the naming scheme of Alpha, Beta, Ring 3, and Ring 4 seemed a bit off to you, you're not alone. Now, Ring 3 and Ring 4 will become the Delta and Omega rings, respectively.

As always, anyone can join the Preview Omega ring; this is where users have always started out when joining the Insider Program. It's similar to the Release Preview ring on Windows, and users on the ring will only get updates that are going to be offered to the public.

Beta and Delta are no longer invitation-only, but there are some requirements. To get in on the Preview Delta ring, you'll need to have been an Insider for at least one month and have reached Insider Level 2. For Preview Beta, you'll have to have been on the Program for three months or more, and have reached Level 4.

Preview Alpha will remain invitation-only, and Microsoft says that, "From time to time, our best Beta and Delta users will get invited to join the Alpha group."

When the Xbox Insider Program was opened up to system updates in January, everything except Ring 4 was invitation-only. Insiders had to complete Quests and Surveys and hope for the best.

Microsoft also provided a chart that reflects how many updates each ring will get per month, and how much bandwidth they will use.

Flight Ring Number of updates/month Bandwidth usage/month
Preview Alpha 15 - 20 60 - 80GB
Preview Beta 8 - 15 32 - 60GB
Preview Delta Varies, select users can get ~3 updates per week Varies, ~12GB per week
Preview Omega 1 - 8 4 - 32GB

There are a couple of things to note here. In many cases, some of these rings will get far fewer updates than this chart says. For example, Microsoft just released the first preview of the Fall update to the Alpha ring, and there's no telling how long it will be before the Beta ring gets it, let alone Delta and Omega.

Also, as indicated in the table, the Delta ring has "a random lottery process", where some Insiders on the ring will often get a build and others won't. The company says that this "process gives developers a better understanding of how different sets of users experience new features, when introduced."

If this all sounds confusing, then you're not alone, but as confusing as it might be, the good news is that Insiders can now sign up for the Beta and Delta rings without an invitation, and that's better for everyone.

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