The year 2020 is nearly over and that means pre-release builds of Windows 10 are now on pause due to the holiday standdown that occurs around Microsoft at this time of the year. Considering they shipped a lot of builds while working remotely, it is a well-deserved break.

As we look over the last month of the year in this post, you will see the slow down as we wait for the new year to begin in a couple of weeks.

Since the shuffle of builds and branches to establish the #BetaChannel for testing Windows 10 (Version 21H1) did not occur in December, we will see that next month. As of right now though, #ReleasePreviewChannel is already being used to test monthly cumulative updates for Windows 10 (Version 20H2) in the production channel. Plus, with 21277 sitting as an option for #DevChannel, that is ready to roll out in the new year as well. The only thing missing from the layout of the #WindowsInsiders testing channels will be #BetaChannels shift to Windows 10 (Version 21H1) testing builds.

Here is the December snapshot for all three #WindowsInsider Channels.

#DevChannel

This month Microsoft continued to release #DevChannel pre-release builds from their Iron Branch (fe_release) instead of the pre-release branch as is the standard method during testing. Expect this branch to shift back to the pre_release offerings after the new year. That is when work will begin on Windows 10 vNext in this channel.

There were no new features available in these three builds – just a lot of fixes – and this has become the norm over the last couple of months for #DevChannel. However, Microsoft did make early access to what looks to be the first pre_release build of Windows 10 vNext – Build 21277. This is an optional build for those in the #DevChannel but also a one-way trip from the Iron Branch series of builds. There is no reverting back to the 202XX series of builds if you opt into 21277.

Windows 10 vNext Build 21277 Pre-Release #DevChannel

I would add though, 21277 in the pre_release branch is the only #DevChannel build that has some new features including a long-awaited option to run x64 apps in emulation mode.

Other updates include some work on supporting Unicode Emoji’s 2 version 12.1 and 13.0, and a lengthy list of other changes, improvements, and fixes.

This will be the starting point in the new year to restart the pre_release branch testing of builds. At that point, this update will no longer be optional but a mandatory upgrade to move forward as a #WindowsInsider in the #DevChannel.

#BetaChannel & #ReleasePreviewChannel

These two channels continue to be mirror images of each other and had just one release this month which was the monthly Patch Tuesday cumulative update for the production version of Windows 10 – Version 20H2 – which was made available to the public back in October.

What’s Next?

As noted earlier, #DevChannel and #ReleasePreviewChannel are already primed for their new roles as 2021 begins. Shortly after the new year we should see #BetaChannel shift to pre-release builds of Windows 10 (Version 21H1).

One thing I would recommend for those of you long term testers in the #WindowsInsiders Program – a reset of your testing devices. This will give you a clean start in the new year as things move forward.

I did this last week and it took less than an hour using the Windows 10 Cloud Download feature of the operating systems reset tools. As before, I now have a device for each channel as I laid out back in June and this gives me flexibility to see what is happening in each #WindowsInsiders development channel.

A Wrap for 2020

Windows 10 - All Done Graphic

By my count, nearly 100 pre-release builds have been made available for testing to #WindowsInsiders over the course of 2020. This is quite spectacular considering that three months into the year everyone on the Windows engineering team had to shift to working from home. Except for a couple of weeks delay, they have continued to provide new builds to testers on their regular schedule. This included two release cycles for production as well – Windows 10 (Version 2004) & (version 20H2).

Here is to 2021 slowly bringing back some normality and Blissin all areas of our lives. So, as this year ends and the new one begins, remember to #StaySafe and #StayHealthy.

#WindowsInsider Testing Channels Setup

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