Microsoft Windows Insider Program Adds Canary Channel: The Ultimate Playground for Windows Enthusiasts

Microsoft has announced substantial changes to the Windows Insider Program as part of the 9th-anniversary celebrations. According to Amanda, the entire product team is amazed at the growth of the community as the Windows Insider Program enters its 9th year. Microsoft has announced the formation of a new Canary Channel in addition to rebooting the Dev Channel from ground zero.

The move is to enable Windows Insiders to become the best place to try out new long-lead features and development experiences. The aim of the Canary Channel is to support preview builds of platform changes, which are more or less identical to that of the Dev Channel flights.

Working with the new Canary Channel

The newly introduced Canary Channel is the best place to test drive preview platform changes that mainly require a longer-lead time. The new Windows 11 features will be initially made available to Canary Channel customers before making them available to customers. If you moved to Canary Channel, then you will be the first to test new Windows Kernel and new APIs.

Microsoft also revealed that new changes introduced in the Canary Channel will never ship like in the Dev channel. However, you can expect few features to find limelight with the upcoming Windows 11 updates including future Windows releases.

Higher Build Number

Microsoft disclosed that the Canary Channel Windows Insider Program flights will have higher build numbers when compared with the Dev, Beta, and Release Preview channels. This will start from 25000 series builds. The Dev Channel Windows Insiders were already receiving these new builds.

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Microsoft will automatically migrate these Windows Insiders to the Canary Channel to ensure continuity. If you are moved to the Canary Channel, you will receive notification in Windows 11 and via email. You should perform a clean installation if you would like to move to other channels from the Dev Channel.

The new changes are also applicable for commercial devices that are configured for the Dev Channel on 25000 series builds. This could be managed either by IT administrators via Windows Update for Business policy or Microsoft Intune or Group Policy. You will be able to opt into the new Canary Channel via policy within the next few days.

The builds that are made available to the Canary Channel will be hot off the presses. The flights under Canary Channel will be available immediately after the development. Hence, there will be very little validation without documentation. Microsoft has warned that the builds under the newly created Canary Channel will result in the inability to use your PC correctly.

No daily builds for now

There will be cases that require complete Windows reinstallation. Microsoft will not publish detailed Windows Insider Program blog posts for Canary Channel releases. However, the product team continues to publish content for Dev, Beta, and Release Preview releases. You will not receive daily builds in Canary Channel but you can expect frequent flights in the future.

Microsoft recommendation

Microsoft recommends Dev Channel for those Windows Insiders who would like to try new features and experiences. The Dev Channel is the place where the product team incubate new ideas including previewing new features and experiences.

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WIndows Insider Program

The new features will be available to the Canary Channel initially before they are made available to the Dev Channel. However, Dev Channel provides improved platform stability and that’s why Microsoft recommends Windows Insiders to join Dev Channel taking into account performance and stability. The same features will be made available to the Beta Channel as the build get closer to shipping.

Clean Installation

Microsoft revealed that Windows Insiders in the Dev Channel will receive 23000 series builds. If you are in the Beta Channel under 22000 series builds, you should immediately migrate to the Dev Channel to enjoy new features and experiences. You will not be able to switch a channel that is receiving builds with lower build numbers without a clean installation of Windows 11. If you are automatically moved to the Canary Channel but want to be in the Dev Channel then you should perform a clean installation of Windows 11. However, we migrated from Canary to Dev Channel without a complete Windows 11 installation.

New technology

Microsoft manages the state of individual features and experiences included in the builds that are released to Windows Insiders across the various channels. This is being done with Controlled feature Rollout (CFR) technology. This enables users to push features in stages to monitor quality.

Negligible Documentation

Microsoft will probably release a build to the Dev Channel activated with new features but deliberately disabled in Canary or Beta Channel builds. Microsoft will only communicate information about features that require Windows Insiders to provide feedback. Even though the product team publishes content about new releases, very limited information will be available for the Canary Channel.

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Canary Channel: This channel is ideal for highly technical users so that they can preview the changes and features that are early in the development cycle. Microsoft has warned that these builds can be unstable and are released without any documentation.

Dev Channel: Microsoft has refreshed the Dev Channel and is ideal for tech enthusiasts. You can access the latest Windows 11 preview builds as we try to incubate new ideas and develop long-read features and capabilities. The Dev Channel builds will have rough edges and low stability.

Beta Channel: The Beta Channel is ideal for early adopters that are more reliable than Dev Channel builds. The flights are validated by Microsoft.

Release Preview Channel: The Release Preview Channel is ideal for commercial users. The build offers bug fixes, key features, and optional access to the next version of Windows before general availability.

Going forward, you will receive Windows 11 Insider Preview Builds either via the newly introduced Canary Channel or Dev Channel. It’s up to you to decide the relevant channel based on your requirements.

Anand Narayanaswamy is the editor-in-chief of Netans. He was recognized as a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for 9 years (2002 to 2011) and again as a Microsoft MVP in Surface under Windows and Devices in January 2024. He worked as a Chief Technical Editor with ASPAlliance and was part of ASPInsider program. Anand has published several articles and reviews related to various software and hardware products for various software and technology related websites. He is also active on social media and also participates as an Influencer for various brands. Anand can be reached at