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Microsoft splits up Windows Beta Channel Insiders

Back to 2019 with two build numbers. Plus: Previous features may 'disappear'

Microsoft has split up its band of unpaid testers, the Windows Insiders, into two groups with the latest updates to the company's Beta Channel.

Although Microsoft still hasn't confirmed the final release date of Windows 11's next major update (22H2) it has tinkered with the Beta Channel in a similar way to what it did in 2019, when Windows Insiders in the beta channel were split into two.

As before, the number of the build will be artificially incremented for some, but not for others. Groups receiving build will get new features (either rolled out or turned on via a Windows 10-alike enablement package) while those placed in the build group will have the new toys turned off by default.

Microsoft's justification for this is to check out its ability to release updates with features turned off by default (and therefore update things at a point in the future by simply flicking a switch in the code.) It also expects to "have greater insight into the impact of enabling new features."

"By comparing feedback and usage data between Insiders in these two groups, we will get to see if a feature is causing issues with reliability, for example."

The company will then be able to make a call on rolling out a feature to a wider audience or hurriedly disabling it and hoping nobody noticed.

The majority of Insiders will apparently be popped into the build group, although not all features will be immediately turned on. The rest will land in the build group, where new features are off by default.

Previous features may 'disappear'

For Insiders tired of Microsoft's habit of flipping a virtual coin to decide if they get new toys to play with or not, those in the build group can check for updates and shift themselves onto build "Some Insiders who had previous features rolled out to them may see them disappear," admitted Microsoft, before suggesting an install of the enablement package should bring things back "shortly."

"We realize this isn't ideal," the company conceded.

For those lucky enough to be in the build group, build 22622.290 released last night introduces suggest actions (where Windows 11 will suggest making a call or creating a calendar event when copying a number or call respectively – although this only applies to users in the US, Canada and Mexico.)

Other changes include the arrival of OneDrive storage alerts and subscription management in the Windows 11 Settings app. Doubtless Microsoft will offer rival cloud storage services similar access (we asked and will update should the company respond.)

Old habits die hard, and the new features won't hit all Insiders immediately as Microsoft rolls them out.

Fixes for the tabbed File Explorer also feature in build 22622.290 while a raft of other changes include tweaks around SMB and TLS 1.3.

As for known issues, Microsoft issued a PowerShell fix for the cyclical crashes experienced by some users. ®

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