Windows as a service is all about spreading the work of traditional deployments over smaller, more manageable updates. With Windows 10 Insider Preview builds, you can take that strategy even further—by kicking off your deployment project before the next Windows update has been released.
Unlike the Technical Previews of the past, Insider Preview builds are launched at the beginning of a Windows development cycle. This allows you to start validation a full six months or more before a general release. And early validation definitely has its advantages. With Insider Preview builds, you can:
- Explore new features and provide input to help better shape them for your business.
- Engage Microsoft earlier for help with compatibility issues.
- Reduce the workload required for pilot deployments by spreading validation over time.
- Deploy updates sooner and maximize the 18-month support window for each Semi-Annual Channel build.
What’s more, we’ve added support for Insider Preview builds to many of our Windows deployment and management tools, making it easier than easier to test and deploy new features—as well as refinements to your existing deployment and management processes.
How to integrate early validation into your deployment
The first thing you’ll want to do is join the Windows Insider Program for Business to gain access to the latest Windows Insider Preview builds. You can register with either your Microsoft account or your work account in Azure Active Directory (Azure AD). Using your work account enables you to install and manage Insider Preview builds centrally within your domain. This is ideal for setting up labs and testing Inside Preview builds on multiple PCs across your organization.
To add Insider Preview builds to your overall deployment plan, we recommend exploring the latest features using the Fast Ring and validating those features with a larger set of users and devices using the Slow Ring.
Explore in the Fast Ring
Fast Ring builds are released earliest in the development process, making them ideal for exploring new features and capabilities on a small set of PCs. It is also the best time to use the Feedback Hub app to provide us with feedback on what works, what doesn’t work, and what could work better for your organization. This feedback goes directly to our engineering teams and helps us make adjustments and enhancements as quickly as possible.
Figure 1. Recommended Windows 10 deployment phases with Windows as a service
Validate in the Slow Ring
Once you’ve had a chance to explore the latest features in an Insider Preview build, we recommend that you move to validating those features with a larger set of users and devices through the Slow Ring. Slow Ring builds are released a bit later than builds in the Fast Ring, making them more stable and better suited to validating both apps and infrastructure. Add app owners and other business leads to your test group to generate richer feedback. And, as you expand your group of Insider Preview Build users, you can use Device Health in Windows Analytics to centrally monitor device, device driver and application issues.
Learn more: attend our 24-hour AMA
What’s the best way to get application compatibility and infrastructure issues in front of Windows engineers during your validation process? How can you configure Windows Analytics to monitor your Insider Preview builds? What are some of the other differences between the Fast and Slow Ring?
Get fast answers to these—and any questions you may have about Insider Preview builds, the Windows Insider Program, and leveraging the program as part of your regular deployment lifecycle—during our 24-hour Windows Insider Program Ask Microsoft Anything (AMA) event on Tech Community. This is an opportunity to connect directly with our engineers on how to enhance your Windows deployment strategy using Insider Preview builds. Here’s how the session will work and how you can participate:
- The Windows 10 AMA space on Tech Community will open for a 24-hour window beginning at 10:00 a.m. PT on Tuesday, June 26, 2018.
- You can post your questions anytime during the 24-hour window. To submit a question, simply click Start a new conversation—and do this for each new question.
- Engineering and members of the product teams will be answering your questions live from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. PT on June 27, 2018. (They may also answer questions during other hours.)
- At the end of the AMA, the Windows 10 AMA space will close and become a read-only resource. We will post a final recap within 72 hours.
To participate in the AMA, you must be a member of the Microsoft Tech Community. If you're not already a member, it only takes a minute to sign up:
- Visit https://techcommunity.microsoft.com.
- Click Sign In in the top right corner and sign up using your Microsoft account.
- Join the Windows 10 community, and any others you like. (Click See all for the full list.)
- Accept the terms and click Register.
Along with our AMA session, check out the following resources for more information on using Windows Insider Preview builds to support your Windows deployment strategy: