Untangling the Windows 10 Insider Rings situation: where we are and where you need to be

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It used to be so simple, there was a Windows Insider Fast Ring and a Slow Ring and you (and your computer) pretty much knew where you were at all times. Not to say the current situation is worse, in many ways it gives users more control and Microsoft more information, but it is definitely more complicated. Let’s sort it out:

First, Let’s take a look at the current state of affairs. Here are all the Rings, and their current configurations:

Current Windows 10 Insider Rings

Rings Version Name build
Stable 1903 May 2019 Update 18362
Slow 1903 May 2019 Update 18362.10024
Release Preview 1909 November 2019 Update 18363.448
Fast 20H1 ?? 19002.1002
Skip Ahead currently unused

Insiders in the Release Preview Ring have already been offered updates to the 19H2 November 2019 Update “final,” cleaning up after a temporary situation where there were actually two Release Preview Rings, one on 18362.x and one on 18363.x. As Microsoft prepares for the next round of Insider builds, the Insider Program will move Insiders who remain on the  (currently 19H1/1903) Slow Ring to a 20H1 Slow Ring. Insiders on the Release Preview Ring will remain for now on 19H2, and at some point a Skip Ahead Ring will open back up for 21H1 early access.

So what does it all mean? If you want to move from 1903 (the May 2019 Update) to 1909 (the November 2019 Update), but stay there, you should get yourself onto the Release Preview Ring, either by moving up from Slow Ring, or down from Fast Ring. Up until early this week, Insiders on the Slow Ring (18362.100xx), although they were able to move to Release Preview, for technical reasons weren’t able to actually move to 18363.4xx (the final November 2019 Update). As of the latest Windows Update, that has changed, and Insiders who were on Slow Ring need to make a decision. If you stay in Slow Ring, Microsoft will move you, “soon,” to a new 20H1 Slow Ring, or you can move to another Ring.

For now, if you stay in Fast Ring, you’ll continue to get the latest 20H1 builds.

If you want to move to the November 2019 Update and get out of the Insider program, first get yourself to the Release Preview Ring, take the latest updates (this should get you currently to 18363.4xx), and then to to Settings>Update & Security > Windows Insider Program, opt out, and reboot. This will leave you in the November 2019 Update, get you the latest official bits a few weeks early, but out of the Windows Insider program.

To continue to get the latest Insider builds, for now remain in the Fast Ring. At some point, if everything continues to work as it has, Microsoft will offer a new Skip Ahead Ring for 21H1, and you should be ready to enroll in that.

We’ve been hearing that Microsoft is aware that the Insider Program is complicated, and they’re looking at  simplifying the process. We’re hopeful that’s the case. For now, however, this table should help get you sorted on where you need to be. Note that “current version” means that you’ve applied all available updates:

Windows 10 Insider Rings moving forward

Ring Current version Next version
Slow 1903 20H1
Release Preview 1909 1909
Fast 20H1 20H1
Skip Ahead unused 21H1 (??)

What’s next? Unless things change, we’ll start the whole process all over again: Skip Ahead 21H1 will be again temporarily retired, Fast Ring will move to 21H1, Slow Ring will stay on 20H1 as Release Preview will begin to handle the 20H2 Fall 2020 testing for the next minor release cycle.

How would you “fix” the Insider program? Is it too complicated? Is waiting from now until next Spring too long to wait for 20H1 to ship, if it’s nearly done now? Should Microsoft begin testing 21H1 now, or wait so that there’s a tighter cycle between “feature complete” and release? Let us know what you think in the comments below