Windows Insider Program User Guide

This guide provides you with details on how to install and get the most out of Windows 10 Insider Preview builds, including troubleshooting tips and links to other helpful support resources.

 

Also available: Windows 10 Mobile Insider User Guide

Install Windows 10 Insider Preview

Getting started is easy. To install your first Windows 10 Insider Preview Build1 on your PC, simply follow these steps:

1. Review prerequisites

  1. If you haven’t already, register as a Windows Insider. Note: You can also register with your work account to get the additional benefits of the Windows Insider Program for Business.
  2. Install Windows 10 on your PC. To install Windows 10 Insider Preview, you’ll also need to be running a licensed version of Windows 10 on your PC. If your PC is currently running Windows 7/8/8.1, you can install Windows 10 here. If you are having problems installing Windows 10, you can install a Windows 10 Insider Preview build: Download Windows 10 Insider Preview ISO.
  3. Check that Windows 10 Insider Preview supports your desired language on your PC.

Windows 10 Insider Preview is available in the following SKU languages:
Arabic (Saudi Arabia), Bulgarian (Bulgaria), Chinese (Simplified, China), Chinese (Traditional, Taiwan), Croatian (Croatia), Czech (Czech Republic), Danish (Denmark), Dutch (Netherlands), English (United Kingdom), English (United States), Estonian (Estonia), Finnish (Finland), French (Canada), French (France), German (Germany), Greek (Greece), Hebrew (Israel), Hungarian (Hungary), Italian (Italy), Japanese (Japan), Korean (Korea), Latvian (Latvia), Lithuanian (Lithuania), Norwegian, Bokmål (Norway), Polish (Poland), Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Romanian (Romania), Russian (Russia), Serbian (Latin, Serbia), Slovak (Slovakia), Slovenian (Slovenia), Spanish (Mexico), Spanish (Spain, International Sort), Swedish (Sweden), Thai (Thailand), Turkish (Turkey), Ukrainian (Ukraine).

Windows 10 Insider Preview is available in the following Language Interface Packs (LIP) languages:
Afrikaans (South Africa), Albanian (Albania), Amharic, Armenian, Assamese, Azerbaijani (Latin, Azerbaijan), Bangla (Bangladesh), Bangla (India), Basque, Belarusian (Belarus), Bosnian (Latin), Catalan (Catalan), Cherokee (Cherokee), Dari, Filipino (Philippines), Galician (Galician), Georgian, Gujarati, Hindi (India), Icelandic, Indonesian (Indonesia), Irish, Kannada, Kazakh (Kazakhstan), Khmer (Cambodia), KiSwahili, Konkani, Kyrgyz, Lao (Laos), Luxembourgish, Macedonian (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), Malay (Malaysia), Malayalam, Maltese, Maori, Marathi, Mongolian (Cyrillic), Nepali, Norwegian (Nynorsk), Odia, Persian, Punjabi, Quechua, Scottish Gaelic, Serbian (Cyrillic, Bosnia and Herzegovina), Serbian (Cyrillic, Serbia), Sindhi (Arabic), Sinhala, Tamil (India), Tatar, Telugu, Turkmen, Urdu, Uyghur, Uzbek (Latin, Uzbekistan), Valencian, Vietnamese, Welsh.

Note:

Windows LIP language packs can only be installed over the supported base languages. To learn how to configure your input or display languages after install a language pack, see How to add and switch an input or display language to your PC.

 

2. Prepare your Windows 10 PC

  1. Open your PC's Settings (Start > Settings > Update & Security > Windows Insider Program). To see this setting, you need to have administrator rights to your PC.
  2. Click Get started.
  3. Under “Pick an account to get started” click “+” to link your Microsoft or work account that you used to register for the Windows Insider Program. Click Continue.
  4. Under “What kind of content that you would like to receive”, select active development of Windows to receive Windows 10 Insider Preview and click Confirm. Select “Fixes, apps and drivers” only if you want to install builds from the Release Preview Ring. Note: If the option to “Skip ahead to the next version of Windows” is not available, selecting it will default to the latest Insider Preview build in the Fast Ring.
  5. Under “What pace do you want to receive preview builds” select Fast if you would like to receive the latest Insider Preview builds. Note that this ring may contain bugs and other issues. If you prefer to wait for a more stable build, select Slow . Click Confirm. For more information, see the Definition of Rings below.
  6. Review the privacy statement and program terms and click Confirm.
  7. Click Restart Now or Restart Later to complete your PC enrollment.

3. Complete Installation

  1. Once your PC restarts, go to Start > Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update and click Check for updates to download the latest Insider Preview build based on the criteria you selected in the steps above.
  2. Once the download is complete you are given three restart options: Click Pick a time, Remind me later or Restart now to complete installation. Note: After you have installed an Insider Preview build, you will receive recent new builds automatically. To confirm that you have the latest build, simply check for updates on Windows Update.

Let us know what you think

The feedback you provide on Insider Preview builds goes directly to our engineers to help develop Windows. To provide feedback, simply visit the Feedback Hub app in your Start menu. The Feedback Hub also connects you to Insider news, quests, community, and other resources.  You can also use the Language Community App to help us make Windows better in your language. Find out how to provide actionable feedback.

Working with rings

Definition of rings

The options for the frequency of Windows 10 Insider Preview builds are called “rings.” Each ring presents a different level of stability and will be delivered on a different build cadence.

Rings are used to evaluate the quality of our software as it is released to progressively larger audiences. If the build passes all required automated testing in the lab, we will flight (release a build) with a new feature update, application, etc. to the first, most frequent, ring. The build will continue to be evaluated against a set of criteria to ensure it is ready to progress to the next ring. To get builds to Insiders faster, we changed the ordering of how we promote builds between rings, the ring progression criteria, and added a new ring.

Fast Ring

The benefit of being in the Fast Ring is that you will be among the first to use and provide feedback on new and improved features. If you have devices in the Fast Ring, you should be prepared for more issues that might block key activities or might require significant workarounds. Because we are also validating a build on a smaller set of devices before releasing, there is also a chance that some features might fail in some device configurations. If significantly blocked, report the issue to us in the Feedback Hub app or the Windows Insider forums and be ready to reinstall Windows using the Media Creation Tool, see instructions at Download Windows 10.

Slow Ring

The benefit of being in the Slow Ring is that you’ll still receive new updates and features on the Development Branch, but the builds will be more stable. Builds are sent to the Slow Ring after feedback has been received from Insiders on the Fast ring and analyzed by our Engineering teams. Slow Ring builds include updates to fix key issues that prevent many Windows Insiders from being able to use the build daily. These builds are still from the Development Branch and could have issues that might be addressed in a future flight.

Release Preview Ring

If you want to be on the current public release of Windows 10 but still get early access to updates, applications, and drivers without taking the risk of moving to the Development Branch, the Release Preview Ring is your best option. The Release Preview Ring is only visible when your Windows build version is the same as the current Production Branch. The easiest way to go between the Development Branch to the current Production Branch is to reinstall Windows using the Media Creation Tool, see instructions at Download Windows 10.

Skip Ahead

This is a unique version of the Fast Ring that allows Insiders to “skip ahead” to Windows 10 Insider Preview builds in the next release while we are finishing up a current release. Enrollment in Skip Ahead is offered for a limited time to a small subset of Insiders.

Switching between rings

Changing rings is a simple process. Launch Settings, select Updates & Security, select Windows Insider Program. Under Choose Your Level, select between the following rings: Fast, Slow or Release Preview.

Working with updates

After registering in the Windows Insider Program and installing your first Windows 10 Insider Preview build, you will begin to receive updates to the device(s) you have enrolled. During the development process, the build number will change with each update. There are two different types of builds being delivered to your device(s):

Major builds

When a major build is released, is will include any combination of new features, updates to existing features, bug fixes, application changes, or other changes. For a major build, you will see the build number increment by 1 or more. Build numbers may or may not be consecutive based upon passing internal ring promotion criteria. For example, 14361 -> 14365.

Minor/servicing Builds

Also known as “Servicing” or “Cumulative” updates, these builds represent a smaller set of changes to a currently released Major Build. Servicing Builds often include bug fixes, minor operating system updates, or other smaller changes as needed. For example, 14361 -> 14361.1002 -> 14361.1003.

What to expect in each ring

While there is no set requirement for how build numbers are delivered to each ring, you will in general find the following to be true:

Fast Ring: Major Build releases, very few servicing builds.

Slow Ring: Major Build with minor build fixes attached.

Release Preview Ring: Major Build change at a release milestone and then a continued series of Servicing Builds until the next release milestone is reached.

Find information about your PC

Below is a set of quick references for key information you may find useful as you participate in the program. This information will also be helpful when submitting feedback for build issues or feature suggestions, as well as reaching out for assistance.

How to find the build number

Go to Start, type winver, click “winver - run command.”

How to verify which flight ring I have selected

Open Settings, select Update & Security, select Windows Insider Program, and view the Choose your Insider level drop-down.

How do I check which Microsoft Account (MSA) or Azure Active Directory (AAD) I am using for getting builds?

Open Settings, select Update & Security, select Windows Insider Program and view the Windows Insider account information as displayed.

How do I verify my copy of Windows 10 is activated?

Open Settings, select Update & Security and select Activation. View the data as displayed.

Not receiving updates

While participating in the Windows Insider Program, you may find that your PC is not updating to the latest update as expected. This is rare, however, there are a few key items to review should you end up in this state.

Perform a manual check for updates

Open Settings, open Update & Security and review available updates or select Check for Updates. If you have set Active Hours, ensure your device is left turned on and signed in during the off-hours so the install process can complete.

Is your copy of Windows activated?

Open Settings, select Update & Security and select Activation. View the data as displayed.

Is the MSA or AAD connected to your PC registered for receiving builds?

Click here to sign in with your MSA or AAD. You will land on the page “Already a member,” if your MSA or AAD is registered with the Windows Insider Program.

Have you selected a ring?

Open Settings, select Update & Security, select Windows Insider Program, and view the Choose your Insider level drop-down.

Have you recently done a roll-back?

Check your Windows Insider Preview settings, including ring-selection, Microsoft Account, and branch-selection.

Did you do a clean install?

After a clean-install and initial setup of a Microsoft Account, even one that has been used previously for receiving Insider builds, the appropriate targeting needs to take place for your PC. This background process is known as Compatibility Checker and will run during idle time on your PC.  This may take up to 24 hours.  Please leave your PC turned on to ensure this occurs in timely manner.

Are there any known issues for your current build?

There may be an issue with a build that could lead to issues with updates being received.  Please check the most recent Windows Insider Blog Post or reach out to us @WindowsInsider.

Recovering a PC

If you are in a situation where you are unable to use your PC as expected, we want you to know how to recover your PC to a good state.

Assess the impact

What is the impact of the issue? Single app?  Minor functionality?

Can you continue using your device or is key functionality not working?

Are you able to work around the issue? Would an alternate app suffice?

Is a newer build available that may have a fix for any known bugs being faced?

Troubleshoot & Discover

Troubleshoot the issue.  There may be a workaround available. Reach out to us via the Windows Insider Forums or @WindowsInsider on Twitter. If important functionality is unusable, you may want to reinstall your current OS version. Prior to doing any reinstall or rollback, ensure you have backed up important files.  While it is rare to lose data during this process, it is best to back up key data.

OS Reinstall

You will have several options to choose from, including an operating system-only reinstall or a clean wipe of your device: Go to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery and click Get Started under Reset this PC. Follow the on-screen directions to refresh or clean install the OS.

Roll-back to Prior Build

If your PC was working as expected on the prior build and you’d like to roll back without losing any data, you may try this option: Go to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery, and select Get Started under Go Back to an Earlier Build.

Note: After installing an update to your PC, you will have seven (7) days to roll back if necessary.  If required afterward, you will need to take a future update or you may clean install an older build via bootable media.

Clean Install Insider Build via Bootable Media

One of the questions that comes up from time to time is how to create a bootable USB with a Windows Installation (from an ISO file).  Having this can be helpful in various scenarios, from recovering a machine from a bad build, to bypassing various types of bugs, or even joining a new PC into the Windows Insider program.

Should you want (or need) to create a bootable USB drive from a Windows Insider ISO file, please see these directions.

Stop receiving Insider builds

To stop getting new builds on your PC, go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Insider Program, select Stop Insider Preview Builds and follow the additional on-screen prompts.

Recover your device

We recommend that if you do choose to stop getting Insider builds, do so when your device is on a Production Build at the end of a development cycle so that you do not need to recover your device. Production builds are stable, receive servicing updates, allow you to stay up-to-date, and you will not lose any of the data on your device. If you unenroll while your device is running an Insider build, your device will remain on a build that will not receive future servicing updates, will have an expiry date set, and may contain security vulnerabilities.  Announcements are made on the Windows Insider Blog when development cycles are complete.

To find out the current Production Build number, check the Windows Insider Blog.

To find the build number on your PC, go to Start, type winver, click “winver - run command.”

If you choose to stop receiving Windows Insider builds during a development cycle and need to recover your PC to a current Production Build, you will need to install an earlier version of Windows using the Media Creation Tool.  Please see instructions at Download Windows 10 or choose from the following depending on which previous version you are recovering to: Windows 7 Recovery Image, Windows 8 Recovery Image or Windows 10 Recovery Image.

Support resources

Even though Insiders are self-sufficient people, the Microsoft team is ready to help you use Windows 10 Insider Preview builds. Along with the information provided in the User guide, the following options are available for support.

Windows Insider Blog

With each new build, we publish a Windows Blog post that outlines key feature changes as well as known issues that Insiders may encounter while using the build. Review the blog to stay up-to-date with news and information. Read the Windows Insider Blog today.

Feedback

Share feedback via the Feedback Hub. Other Insiders can add on to your feedback (or vice versa) and will allow you to create links to feedback that you can share for others to reference. Find out how to submit actionable feedback.

Forum

Insiders can filter between PC, Mobile, Office, Edge, and many other sections. There are also sub-topics that will help narrow down your search to find tailored content. Go to the Windows Insider forum .

Twitter

We’re social! You’ll find new build announcements, tips/tricks, quests, contests, as well as direct real-time support when available. Follow us @WindowsInsider and @Donasarkar.

Leave the program

Some of you might have want to roll back to your original operating system to no longer receive Windows Insider builds on one or more of your devices.

You can remain in the program and continue to receive communications about Windows Insider Previews but no longer receive builds. If you do want to completely leave the Windows Insider Program, you’ll need to unregister, unenroll and recover your device to a supported public build.

Unregister

On the Windows Insider Program website, sign in with your Microsoft Account (MSA) or your Azure Active Directory (AAD) account associated with the Windows Insider Program. Go to the page leave the program and click on the button, "Leave the Program".

Unenroll

On your PC, go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Insider Program, select “Stop Insider Preview Builds” and follow the additional on-screen prompts.

 

  1. Windows Insider Preview may be substantially modified before it’s commercially released. Microsoft makes no warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information provided here. Some product features and functionality may require additional hardware or software.