Welcome to our monthly look back at all the builds and updates in the Windows Insider Program for Windows 10 and #WindowsInsiders.

By the way, did you know the program just marked its sixth anniversary recently?

This is our fourth month of reviewing all the milestones and builds for #WindowsInsiders for the past month. In this post we will cover October, but you can still go back and review our past summaries (September, August and July) summaries).

October was a big month because the initial availability of Windows 10 (Version 20H2) happened on 20 October via Windows Update. Even after its availability started, the Windows team has continued to ship cumulative update patch previews for both the #BetaChannel and #ReleasePreviewChannel.

As I mentioned last month, we should be seeing a shuffle across the various testing channels as the Windows team prepares to start work on the next feature update for Windows 10 – Version 21H1.

Let’s take a look at the month of October across all three of the #WindowsInsider Channels.

#DevChannel

(*) Cumulative Updates to test servicing pipeline for #DevChannel. No new features or changes.
(#) Released from the Iron Branch (fe_release). Resulted in the loss of some features that were in previous #DevChannel builds.

Some of the new features that have shipped in these October builds for Windows 10 (21H1) include:

  • Improved OOBE to setup device depending on usage profile such as gaming, family, creativity, schoolwork, entertainment, and business.
  • Improved management of default file associations.
  • Change monitor refresh rate in Settings app.
  • Improvements to search experience.
  • Theme aware splash screens for apps as they launch.
  • Improved defrag experience.

A fairly brief list of enhancements and updates this past month. The big move is the last build of October, 20246, which comes from a different branch and has seen several previously available features removed.

This is the nature of #DevChannel as it is not tied to any specific future release of Windows 10. That means stuff will come and go regularly in this channel.

#BetaChannel & #ReleasePreviewChannel

I have grouped these two channels together because the cumulative updates released in each one of them are the same. This began at the end of September and has continued through the month of October. These preview versions of these updates eventually make their way to the production version of Windows 10 (Version 20H2).

These patches are 99% fixes and improvements with no new features with one exception. In Build 19042.608, Microsoft added the Skype Meet Now button to the taskbar.

In Closing

It is seeker time for Windows 10 (Version 20H2) now that its availability has begun. That means those who want to go ahead and upgrade to this latest release can do one of three things:

  • Windows Update on currently supported devices with no upgrade blocks
  • Download the Media Creation Tool (MCT) to get an ISO and create an upgrade DVD or flash drive
  • Utilize the Update Assistant

If you are upgrading from Windows 10 (Version 2004) this is a small and fast cumulative update on top of that version of Windows 10. If you are on Windows 10 (Version 1909) or earlier, then it is a full feature update process and will take a little longer although that length is now relative as the update process has improved speed wise over the last couple of updates.

So, what is next?

As I mentioned last month, I expect the #ReleasePreviewChannel to remain on Windows 10 (Version 20H2) so it is a test platform for cumulative updates heading to production. The #BetaChannel should soon shift its branch over to Windows 10 (Version 21H1) to begin update testing for next spring’s feature update release. In #DevChannel, the move to the Iron Branch (fe_release) as noted above is the beginning of a new testing platform for Windows 10 in general since it is not tied to a specific release.

In fact, I have decided to begin referring to this branch as Windows 10 vNext since there is no specific connection with a planned feature update.

We should get some clarity and movement across these channels over the next month or so as we approach the holiday period when things slow down around Microsoft.

Until next month – stay safe and up to date!

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