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Experiments and hidden features: Microsoft plans Windows Insiders shakeup

Beta gang might get new toys before Dev Channel and look – a new logo

Microsoft is shaking up the Windows Insider programme once again, answering complaints that the Dev Channel doesn't get enough toys while also admitting there could well be some playthings for enthusiasts willing to go hunting.

Windows Insider boss Amanda Langowski followed up the "new era of the PC" push of Panos Panay with a missive aimed at the volunteers who sit at the sharp, pointy end of the Windows testing machine: the Insiders.

Boasting that more people were running preview builds of Windows 10 than Windows 11 (not entirely unexpected, considering the enthusiast nature of many Insiders), Langowski reminded fans that the Dev Channel was where engineers would try out new ideas that might never make it to production or have long lead items, while the Beta Channel was closer to what would actually turn up on a customer's desktop.

Interestingly, she also said "there may be cases where features and experiences show up in the Beta Channel first," leaving those Insiders that must have the latest in a bit of a quandary. Dev Channel or Beta?

Still, the good news is that for Insiders pondering a move to the Beta Channel a window will be opening up in the coming weeks. Otherwise a reinstall will be needed. After all, the two are "parallel active development branches," according to Langowski, "but previewing different things."

Release Preview remains the place to check out what is coming to general customers.

In a nod to the researchers that turned up experimental work, such as a redesigned Windows Task Manager, Langowski said: "We also recognize that some of our more technical Insiders have discovered that some features are intentionally disabled in the builds we have flighted.

"This is by design, and in those cases, we will only communicate about features that we are purposefully enabling for Insiders to try out and give feedback on."

Langowski also showed off a new icon for the programme, intended to represent "the community of people who love and help shape the future of Windows, across all our 3 Insider Channels."

We asked Microsoft if this meant that the Ninja Cat beloved of previous management was destined for a metaphorical trip off the nearest pier in a hessian sack of bricks, but the company has yet to respond. ®

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