In late January, Microsoft opened up the Windows Insider Skip Ahead Ring for testers to opt-in for receiving early builds of the next feature update for Windows 10 as the current feature update is finalized.

After approximately 48 hours of availability, access to the Skip Ahead Ring was closed as Microsoft has reached their planned capacity for that ring.

Over the last couple of weeks, Microsoft has released Builds 18329 and 18334 to Windows Insiders alongside of matching Fast Ring builds. Based on past development cycles, this was matching up to the same process the company has followed for past feature updates and the use of the Skip Ahead Ring.

However, this week when they released Build 18836 to Windows Insiders it was not to mirror the stability and bug fix builds we were seeing in Fast Ring. In fact, it was a release for the first feature update of next year known under its codename of 20H1.

While we do not fully know the reasoning behind this significant change in the Windows 10 development cycle process, Microsoft did say in the builds release notes that 20H1 requires a longer lead time for some of the things they are working on for that feature update.

So at this point, even more so than in the past, the Fast Ring and Skip Ahead rings are diverging as Fast ring continues in the final stages of preparing 19H1 for its release in march/April of this year and Skip Ahead ring moves towards 20H1 for the March/April time frame of 2020.

There is some overlap in the General changes, improvements, and fixes for PC listing for this builds release compared to the last release in the Fast Ring, Build 18834, but one spot of very obvious change relates to the new Windows Light theme that is part of 19H1:

We’re updating the name of the “Windows Light” theme to now be “Windows (light)”.

Note: There is some speculation about this being tied to a light version of Windows that will be known simply as Lite, Windows Light, or Windows Lite which will be built for a new series of hardware devices.

You can see in the screenshots below, the renaming of the new light theme for Windows 10.

In addition, over the last five build releases in the Fast Ring (18312; 18317; 18323; 18329, 18334) I have been tracking the disk space usage for the new Reserved Storage option that was added to Windows 10 (19H1) late last year.

One of my bare metal devices, the Lenovo X1 Yoga (OLED), was shifted to the Skip Ahead ring a few weeks ago when that opened up. So the last two builds for that device mirrored the same builds released to the Fast Ring. As of this blog post, I am going to bring the Reserved Storage tracking for that device into any posts about future Skip Ahead rings as we move towards 20H1 in the first half of next year.

Here is my updated usage numbers based on the builds that I have installed from the Skip Ahead ring including 18836 which was made available this week.

Lenovo X1 Yoga

  • Build 18329 – 7.34GB (Skip Ahead – 19H1)
  • Build 18334 – 7.43GB (Skip Ahead – 19H1)
  • Build 18836 – 7.15GB (Skip Ahead – 20H1)

It is going to be interesting as we keep an eye on things around 19H1, 19H2, and 20H1 moving forward to see if this is a shift in Microsoft approach to developing Windows 10 moving forward.

Windows 10 (20H1) Screenshot Gallery

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