Dev and Beta channels briefly align for Windows Insiders

Bored of the bleeding edge? Come over and be bored in beta instead

Windows Insiders weary of life on the bleeding edge can now opt for a more stable existence as the Dev and Beta channels briefly synchronize.

Build 22581 was emitted by Microsoft last night, bringing toys previously limited to the Dev Channel to the Beta Channel as well as giving Insiders an opportunity to switch from Dev to Beta without needing to nuke a PC from orbit.

Both channels usually run in parallel. Microsoft's engineers use the Dev Channel (normally on higher build numbers) to try out new stuff, while the Beta Channel is closer to what will end up being shipped to end users (although there is no guarantee that everything in the Beta Channel will find its way into a release).

Excluded from the fun for the time being (at least on the Beta Channel) are Lenovo PCs for Windows Insiders in China. The Register asked Microsoft and Lenovo why this was and will update should either respond.

The crossing of the streams is a clue that Microsoft is in the closing stages of development on whatever will ship as the Windows 11 update due in the latter part of the year.

The most eye-catching of the updates is the tablet-optimized taskbar, which works in two modes at the bottom of the screen; collapsed or touch-friendly expanded. It is, however, only available to that vanishingly small niche of tablet-using Windows users rather than those with laptops or desktop PCs.

An interesting move, considering how desperate Microsoft has been to distance itself from the touch-first fiasco of Windows 8.

Other Dev Channel delights heading to the Beta Channel include a general tidying up the user interface, enhancements to the Start Menu, and a buffed-up Task Manager. Hopefully the File Explorer ads that were accidentally activated and hurriedly switched off in recent weeks won't also make another surprise appearance.

Microsoft warned the users in the Beta Channel who would prefer to stick with the released version of Windows 11 that they have 10 days to roll back and switch to Release Preview. The company did not say how long Dev Channel fans had before the build numbers change once again, closing the switchover window until next time. ®

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