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Windows 10 Insider Previews: A guide to the builds

Microsoft never sleeps. In addition to its steady releases of major and minor updates to the current version of Windows 10, the company frequently rolls out public preview builds to members of its Windows Insider Program, allowing them to test out — and even help shape — upcoming features.

Microsoft numbers Windows 10 releases using a YYH1/YYH2 format, with the YY standing for the last two numbers of the year and H1 or H2 referring to the first or second half of the year. So the most recent version of Windows is officially referred to as Windows 10 version 20H2, or the October 2020 Update. The next feature update, due in the spring of 2021, will be version 21H1.

Windows Insiders can choose to receive preview builds in one of three channels. The Dev Channel is where new features are introduced for initial testing, regardless of which Windows 10 release they’ll eventually end up in. This channel is best for technical users and developers, and builds in it may be unstable and buggy.

In the Beta Channel, you’ll get more polished features that will be deployed in the next Windows 10 feature update; at the moment that’s Windows 10 21H1. This channel is best for early adopters, and Microsoft says your feedback in this channel will have the most impact. The Release Preview Channel doesn’t see action until shortly before a new feature update is rolled out; it’s meant for final testing of an upcoming release and is best for those who want the most stable builds.

Use the links below to find information about preview builds that have been released to each of the three channels:

For each build, we’ve included the date of its release, which Insider channel it was released to, a summary of what’s in the build, and a link to Microsoft’s announcement about it. After that you’ll find summaries of all the preview builds that led up to prior feature updates, starting with 20H2, the October 2020 Update, and working back in time.

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