When it comes to new software, some people are cautious, and some like to get in the sandbox and play, so to speak. For that second group of people, Microsoft developed Windows Insider.
Windows Insider is an open software testing program that allows users with a Microsoft account to try out pre-release builds of the Windows 10 operating system. In the spring of 2017, Microsoft launched an enterprise-specific version of Windows Insider, which they called the “Windows Insider Program for Business.” For the enterprise IT manager, this means having the ability to preview the next batch of Windows security and productivity features (and to plan for them and also provide feedback).
What Can You Do With Windows Insider Preview?
There are three main things you can do with the Insider Preview:
- Install new Windows builds
You can run Insider Preview builds on a single PC, a group, or a virtual machine. This gives you the option to test new builds small scale and deploy when ready.
- Explore new features
With new builds deployed, you can explore new features. Even better, Insider Preview gives you a way to provide feedback on those features. Past feedback has already had an effect on what Windows 10 looks like today.
- Check for compatibility and validate
You can use Insider Preview builds to validate your apps and infrastructure ahead of the next major release. This helps reduce downtime and the mysterious “app that stops working all of a sudden.” It also has the nice side-effect of widening the support window that comes with each semi-annual release.
Other Common Questions About Windows 10 Enterprise Insider Preview
Is Windows Insider Preview something my organization really needs?
Windows Insider Preview is not strictly necessary. Your organization can run Windows 10 or Server just fine without it. But it is extremely useful, especially if you need to test out new features before full deployment. It’s also nice to have the feedback function, to register problems or simply explain what your organization finds useful.
Be honest—what are the downsides?
As with any update or new feature, there could be bugs. It’s even possible that a machine will become unstable. Or wipe files. Or do something else unexpected and frustrating. (That said, it’s better to find this out earlier, during a pilot.)
The Insider Preview builds also tend to send more telemetry data to Microsoft. If you worry about that, having a bunch of machines using the Insider Preview might not be your thing.
Is Windows 10 Insider Preview free?
What are these “rings” I keep seeing mentioned?
Windows 10 Insider Preview updates are delivered to testers in different “rings.” The different rings determine how soon someone gets a new update. Several of these rings are internal to Microsoft, for obvious reasons. The public rings include the Skip Ahead, Fast, Slow, and Release Preview. The last ring (Release Preview) does not add new features, and is therefore guaranteed to be the most stable.
Can you help me with where to download Windows 10 Insider Preview?
Sure— this link will let you access the download. But: note that you’ll need a Microsoft account, which hopefully you have already. And you will have to be part of the Windows Insider program first. You can do that here.
Also be aware that Insider Previews builds can be obtained by enrolling in the Preview program and enabling the setting in Windows 10. This way, the builds will be downloaded automatically via Windows Update. SO, really, there is no need to download anything from Microsoft directly.
This method can also be controlled via Group Policy, to prevent users from enabling the setting and allow targeting of specific devices to be allowed to enable the setting.
Can you tell me how to remove Windows 10 Insider Preview?
If you want to opt out from Windows Insider Preview for a single machine, simply:
- Open Settings.
- Click on Update & Security.
- Click on Windows Insider Program.
- Click the Stop Insider Preview builds option.
If you need to do this for many machines—say, in an enterprise environment—contact us. We can help, and get you on a safer, more automated update schedule.
What is Windows Insider Lab/Insider for Enterprise?
Windows Insider Lab for Enterprise is intended for Windows Insiders who want to try new, experimental, and pre-release enterprise-level privacy and security features. It uses a virtual (fictional?) company that you can join in order to test various enterprise features, validate and test pre-release software, and interact with the engineering team.
You can check it out more fully here.
Where can I get a list of the various Insider Preview builds?
Try this list from ComputerWorld, which goes as far back as February 2018. It gives nice, concise descriptions of the main features added or updated with each build.
I’m nervous about having my IT staff download each new update… Is there a better way to manage the change and keep things stable?
We get this question, in one form or another, all the time. And for good reason: Stability is supremely important and has to be balanced against new features and better cybersecurity.
One of our more popular managed services offerings has to do with operating system lifecycle management. We help organizations with many endpoints figure out the best way to retrieve, configure, test, and deploy updates in a sensible way. Not only does this lead to more stability, it also frees up your IT department so they can spend their time on more value-adding activities, instead of worrying about patches and upgrades.
If you want to hear more about how we here at Model do this, just reach out and contact us.