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Windows Insider Dev Channel flies again as very flighty Canary Channel

Microsoft doesn't even want you to use these unstable releases, will migrate you to them anyway

Microsoft has created a fourth channel for test versions of its Windows operating system and recommended Windows Insiders don't use it – even though they'll be migrated to it by default.

Announced on Monday, the Canary Channel is going to be "the place to preview platform changes that require longer lead time before getting released to customers," wrote Windows Insider program lead Amanda Langowski. "Some examples of this include major changes to the Windows kernel, new APIs, etc."

"This is very similar to what we've been flighting to the Dev Channel in the past," Langowski added. "And like the Dev Channel, some of the changes we try out in the Canary Channel will never ship, and others could show up in future Windows releases when they're ready."

The Canary Channel's status as the home of experimental stuff means the Dev Channel has a new role as Microsoft's showcase for releases that "incubate new ideas and preview new features and experiences, not tied to a specific Windows release."

Microsoft doesn't have hard and fast rules on whether those "features and experiences" will debut in the Canary Channel or the Dev Channel.

Which seems like a fine way to treat Windows Insiders – Microsoft's most adhesive adherents.

Canary Channel releases will be rough and ready, with "very little validation and documentation" and the possibility of "major issues that could result in not being able to use your PC correctly or even in some rare cases require you to reinstall Windows." They'll also fly under the radar, because Microsoft won't publish blog posts for new releases in the Canary Channel.

Langowski has therefore recommended that Windows Insiders sign up for the Dev Channel as it "will provide better platform stability." She also suggested "If you are an Insider in the Beta Channel who wants to be closer to the latest new features and experiences, we recommend you switch to the Dev Channel today."

Despite Canary Channel's status as the equivalent of extreme sports for Windows Insider, those currently subscribed to the Dev Channel will be moved to the Canary Channel.

"Insiders moved to the Canary Channel will receive notifications of this migration in the OS and via email and can take steps to clean install to pick a different channel if they choose," Langowski wrote. Insiders who are automatically moved to the Canary Channel but want to be in the Dev Channel instead will need to do a clean installation of Windows 11.

Again, lovely treatment for Insiders.

Canary Channel releases will be numbered in the 25,000 series. Dev Channel code will be numbered in the 23,000s and Beta releases will be in the 22,000 series.

Switching Channels is possible, but Insiders can't switch to a channel that is receiving builds with lower build numbers "without doing a clean installation of Windows 11 due to technical setup requirements."

Windows Insiders familiar with the function of canaries in coal mines – keeling over to indicate the imminence of lethal threats to humans – can make what they will of the naming of the Canary Channel, and the risks Microsoft is asking them to take under this new scheme. ®

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