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This content is part of the Conference Coverage: Microsoft Ignite 2018 conference coverage
Definition

Microsoft Windows Insider Program for Business

Contributor(s): Tom Walat

Microsoft Windows Insider Program for Business is a service for IT professionals who want to test preview builds of Windows 10 and Windows Server in the enterprise before general availability.

How is Windows Insider Program for Business used

The program lets administrators deploy these Windows systems in their environment to check for issues with application compatibility and to provide feedback on features. Microsoft requests early feedback with the rapid release model it employs in its Semi-Annual Channel to help the company correct fixes quicker and to put feature requests into its development pipeline sooner.

The Windows Insider Program for Business lets a company cover the registration for all its employees via an Azure Active Directory account. Organizations without Azure Active Directory but with a subscription to Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, Enterprise Mobility Suite, or another Microsoft service, have access to a free Azure Active Directory. The organization must use Windows 10 version 1703 or later to register with Azure Active Directory. Individual participants can register with a personal Microsoft account.

Windows Insider Program vs. Windows Insider Program for Business

Windows Insider Program for Business is part of the Windows
Insider Program that started in 2014. Users download the Windows 10 preview builds and use the Feedback Hub app to report issues, or give critiques and comments about the build.  Microsoft touts this new addition to the Insider program as a way for companies to alert Microsoft to critical issues and let the company know what features and functionality these organizations want to see in Windows.

Anyone can join the Windows Insider Program. Microsoft designed the Windows Insider Program for Business so companies could deploy preview builds to specific employees for testing.


Dona Sarkar explains the Windows
Insider Program.

Windows Insider Program for Business feedback

Microsoft provides a Feedback Hub app to collect responses from Insider Program participants about their experiences and issues with preview builds. The company recommends screenshots and details such as the build number when submitting feedback.  Windows Insider Program for Business users can see the comments left by other members of the organization; according to Microsoft, this information is not accessible to Insider users outside the company domain.

In the Feedback Hub, users can upvote feedback that mirrors their issue or request to prevent duplicate submissions. Participants can add comments to feedback for further clarification.

Windows 10 preview build deployments

Administrators can determine when and how a preview build of Windows 10 arrives on a device through configurations via a mobile device management application, such as Microsoft Intune, or through Group Policy. Through preview build settings, the administrator configures a machine for preview builds. They can be installed automatically or at a time determined by the user.

A Branch Readiness Level setting lets IT select various preview flight rings with the ability to pause or defer update deliveries. Administrators adjust this setting to change flight rings.

There are several flight rings available:

  • Release Preview Ring: These builds are close to the final release that will be distributed to the Semi-Annual Channel. These versions have been through the most testing and are considered nearly feature complete and the most stable. Microsoft recommends this flight ring for administrators who want to test compatibility with business applications.
  • Slow Ring: These builds have been compiled after feedback from users in the Fast Ring that has been addressed by Microsoft engineers. There may be some issues in this release that Microsoft plans to correct in a future flight.
  • Fast Ring: These builds provide the participants with the newest features but might not have the most stability compared to later rings. Some features might not work on all devices, and Microsoft recommends the users be prepared to reinstall Windows if significant problems arise.

Windows Server enters the Insider Program

At its Build 2017 conference, Microsoft announced it would add Windows Server to the Windows Insider Program for customers to test and provide feedback on preview builds for Windows Server and container images. The program began to accept registrations in April 2017.

Participants get Windows Server preview builds from the Windows Server Insider Preview page. Newer preview builds must be installed manually. Users find container images from the Docker Hub.

This was last updated in January 2018

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