Microsoft has announced changes coming to the Windows Insider Program over the next few weeks. In the post on the Windows Insider blog, head of the Windows Insider team Amanda Langowski detailed a change of scope in the beta and dev channels.

The dev channel will be used by Microsoft to test out new ideas, experimental features and controlling states of individual features. Microsoft say some concepts may never ship and some will show up in future versions of Windows. The idea being that the dev channel can be used for developing and testing future features.

As part of this ongoing evolution, Insiders will see us lean more heavily on the Dev Channel as a place to incubate new ideas, work on long lead items, and control the states of individual features. This allows us to experiment in a few ways by rolling features in stages to monitor quality and your feedback (which we’ve been doing a lot of already) and testing variations of features (often referred to as “A/B testing”). Features and experiences from these builds could show up in future Windows releases when they’re ready. In some cases, these concepts will never ship, but by experimenting more, we can better refine experiences, and deliver solutions in Windows that truly empower our customers to achieve more.

The beta channel will see development that will more closely match the next update of Windows and in some cases the features will show up on the beta channel first, and the release preview channel will be testing what is coming soon.

The Beta Channel will be previewing experiences that are closer to what we will ship to our general customers. Because the Dev and Beta Channels represent parallel development paths from our engineers, there may be cases where features and experiences show up in the Beta Channel first.

For a long time, the dev channel has been stable with minor changes to the OS so it will be great to see experimental features with Windows Insiders being able to give feedback on developments. It may mean the dev channel has more issues than previous builds so Windows Insiders will have to think about which channel they want their devices on.

Speaking of channels Microsoft say in the coming weeks there will be an opportunity to switch from the dev and beta channels, something that isn’t possible at the moment without resetting the device.

The final change is the new Windows Insider icon replacing the old cat icon.

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