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With the launch of Windows 10 in 2015, getting into Microsoft's preview and beta testing program become a much simpler process. To become a Windows Insider (beta tester), you have to join the Insider program, and download preview builds on Windows 10.

Once you've joined the Windows Insider program, you can choose from three levels of access to preview builds.

Now, Microsoft is overhauling the Windows Insider program and migrating users to "channels" from "rings."
Microsoft says that it plans to make the following changes to the Windows Insider testing program:
  • Fast Ring becomes Dev Channel.
  • Slow Ring becomes Beta Channel
  • Release Preview Ring becomes Release Preview Channel.
The Ring to Channel approach makes more sense going forward, and it would sound more familiar for those who use Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge Dev/Beta or Canary builds.

Here's how Microsoft describes them:
  • Release Preview Channel: This channel of the Windows Insider program is best for enthusiasts and IT Professionals. Release Preview gives early access to updates for apps, drivers, cumulative updates, and feature updates with minimal risk to the devices, and devices would still work great.
  • Beta Channel (Slow Ring): This channel is ideal for early adopters, and it allows interested users or IT professionals to check out upcoming features which are tied to a specific Windows 10 feature update such as 20H2.
  • Dev Channel (Fast Ring): The Dev channel is for highly technical users with rough edges and some instability that could break key features or cause BSOD and GSOD. Microsoft says that builds released in this channel won't be tied to a specific feature update and Dev Channel releases will contain the latest work-in-progress code from their engineers.
The Ring to Channel approach makes more sense going forward, and it would sound more familiar for those who use Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge Dev/Beta or Canary builds.

Microsoft is planning to migrate Windows Insiders to Channels from Rings later this month, and the first 21H1 build is also expected to release in June or July.