Microsoft unveils a secret tunnel for Windows Insiders who want out
Beta Channel Insiders can return to retail Windows 11 23H2 with click of a toggle
Liberation beckons for Microsoft's Beta Channel Windows Insiders thanks to an optional installation of Windows 11 23H2 for users who wish to opt out.
Windows Insiders who no longer want to be Microsoft's unpaid testers have often found leaving a challenge. In the past, there were magic windows – no pun intended – where the release and insider build overlapped, permitting Windows Insiders to make their escape.
There are multiple channels in the current Windows Insider program, including the Canary Channel, for fresh-off-the-production-line builds that might be unstable and lack documentation. There is also the Dev Channel, where Microsoft will tinker with new ideas that might never be released, and the Beta Channel, which is more reliable than the Dev Channel and has updates that are "validated by Microsoft."
Finally, there is the Release Preview Channel, which permits users to check out the latest updates and features before they are released commercially.
Easy way out
Extracting a device from the Windows Insider program usually requires completely reinstalling Windows.
It is Insiders in the Beta Channel that are being given the ability to opt out. Users that have turned on the toggle to unenroll their device to "Stop getting preview builds" will get an in-place "upgrade" that will remove the device from flighting and, most importantly, install Windows 11 23H2 with the most recent set of servicing updates available to retail customers.
All of a user's personal data will survive the installation, Microsoft says.
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The downside is that all the new bits and pieces that come as part of the Beta Channel will be gone, so we'd recommend that Windows Insiders who are considering such a move should look very carefully at the content of Windows 11 23H2 compared to the Beta Channel in case there are features or fixes they depend on.
Insiders also need to turn on a toggle if they'd like to get the latest updates in the Beta Channel as soon as they are available. The latest fix for such brave souls is one where an issue in a previous flight left the Recommended section in the Start Menu blank for some Insiders. If users wants to escape the Beta Channel, that toggle must be set to off.
As well giving users as the option to switch back to retail Windows 11, this week's Beta Channel included a swathe of fixes too, including one to address an issue where some 7-Zip files were appearing as empty in File Explorer. Another fix solved an intermittent problem where a user's device stops responding after they install a print support app. ®