In August, both the #DevChannel and #BetaChannel paralleled each other with a full slate of releases to #WindowsInsiders throughout the month. Microsoft is already warning testers in the #DevChannel that this branch will diverge soon from the current stream of releases so that future release builds of Windows 11 can best tested. This means less stability in that branch which might be fine for some, but others will want to switch to #BetaChannel to continue testing Windows 11 in its more stable version. It is the #BetaChannel which will be the source of the initial release of Windows 11 this fall.
As for the #ReleasePreviewChannel – it was once again handling a couple cumulative updates which were pushed into that channel for preview testing on Windows 10 to keep it running smoothly and secure in production.
Let’s look at all the build releases for August 2021 across all those development channels.
#DevChannel and #BetaChannel (Windows 11)
- Build 22000.120 – August 5, 2021
- Build 22000.132 – August 12, 2021
- Build 22000.160 – August 19, 2021
- Build 22000.168 – August 27, 2021
As you can see, the #DevChannel and #BetaChannel were like peas in a pod with the same exact build released for both channels and on the same days.
However, this will not last forever. As I mentioned above, the Windows Insider team has already sent two batches of emails to testers with devices in the #DevChannel warning them about the shift in that channel to future release builds. This means less stability compared to the #BetaChannel. If you are OK with that, no action required on your part. However, if you would prefer to have an easy off ramp from the Windows Insider builds when Windows 11 is released later this year, then you should move into #BetaChannel quickly because that magic window is going to close very soon.
Of course, there were plenty of enhancements and updates made throughout the month of July for Windows 11. Let’s run through those highlights:
- Family widget added for Microsoft Accounts
- Notification badging for Teams Chat (Personal) on the Taskbar
- Taskbar preview windows close button updated visuals
- Updated File Explorer context menu to be more compact for mouse and keyboard users
- Updated New button in File Explorer to be a dropdown menu
- Spacing of thumbnails under ALT + Tab, Task View, and Snap Assist adjusted for better use of space
- Teams Chat (Personal) made available to #BetaChannel
- Updated Snipping Tool, Calculator, Mail and Calendar apps to #DevChannel
- Updated Clock app with Focus Sessions feature to #DevChannel
- Estimates on reboot/install times for Windows Updates adjusted to only provide them for systems with SSDs while bugs with the HDD estimates are addressed
- Multiple language support for Teams Chat (Personal)
- Added Microsoft 365 widget
Of course, each build also saw fixes for reported/documented issues across the operating system.
One final update around these two channels is the release of the first Windows 11 ISO for Build 22000.132. This can be downloaded from the Windows Insider site and can be used for clean installs.
#ReleasePreview Channel (Windows 10)
This channel continues exactly as expected with #ReleasePreviewChannel. These cumulative updates address performance, security, and bug fixes across the latest production version, (21H1), of Windows 10.
Expect this channel to continue its focus on Windows 10 (Version 21H1) leading up to the fall update for the operating system. At some point though, I would expect to see these builds pick up the 21H2 moniker in preparation for that update.
The future sequence of Windows 11 builds is going to get back to what we have seen in the past with Windows 10 with #DevChannel diverging into future updates which are not tied to a specific release of Windows 11 and #BetaChannel being used to finalize the initial release of Windows 11 this fall.
Windows 10 will continue to test pre-release cumulative updates in #ReleasePreviewChannel.
The other big piece of news in August is an update around the technical specifications for Windows 11. This is the first-time specs for Windows has been updated since Windows 7 – nearly 12 years ago. The big change is no change because they are staying right where they announced when it comes to these specs with a few extra CPU additions.
In addition, enthusiasts will be able to grab an ISO and install Windows 11 on any unsupported device they want to put it on. Of course, they keyword there is unsupported, but the ability will be there for those who want to give it a shot on older systems.
One last thing, the Windows team has also updated the PC Health Check app with a much more verbose dialog about what is and isn’t compatible on systems it checks out.
More details about the spec update and the updated PC Health Check app are available from Microsoft in this blog post.
Enjoy and Happy Testing!