Microsoft uses the “Windows Insider” program to test new Windows features. Think of it like the Windows beta program. For example, testers can use the program to run Windows 11 22H2 before its official, stable release.
Read these warnings first
If you have a Windows 10 or Windows 11 PC, you can opt into the Windows Insider Program to get preview builds. This is not permanent – you can opt out at any time. This is intended for people who don’t mind experimenting and reporting bugs.
As with any form of beta software, you choose to receive new software before anyone else. This software is likely to be buggy and incomplete, so be aware of what you are registering for. Microsoft does not recommend using this software on your primary PC; it’s great for PCs you just want to experiment with or try things out with.
As Microsoft warns you when you enable this feature, you’ll probably need to do a clean install of Windows if you want to stop getting preview builds and go back to the stable build of Windows 10 or Windows 11 in the future.
Note: The Settings app received a major overhaul in Windows 11, and it looks quite different from the Settings app in Windows 10. If some of the screenshots look a little different than what you see, don’t worry too much about it—the basics are the same.
How to join the Windows Insider Program
Being part of the internal program requires you to sign in to your PC with a Microsoft account, not a local user account. That Microsoft account must also be part of the Windows Insider Program.
First, make sure you sign in to your PC with a Microsoft account. If it isn’t, you can visit Settings > Accounts > Your information and use the option here to convert your local user account to a Microsoft account.
Visit the Windows Insider Program webpage in your web browser and sign in with your Microsoft account. Click “Sign Up” to join the program from the website. Yes, its free. This registers your Microsoft account as part of the Insider program, allowing you to receive insider builds, should you choose to enable them on a PC.
Note: You will need to click through a few terms and conditions pages before signing up.
Once done, you can open the Settings app on a Windows 10 PC where you’re signed in with your Microsoft account, head to Update & Security > Windows Insider Program. On Windows 11 PCs, open the Settings app, then navigate to Windows Update > Windows Insider Program.
Click or tap “Get Started” to get started. You will be prompted to sign in with a Microsoft account that has joined the program on the web.
If something is preventing you from joining the Insider Program, you will be notified of the problem. The Settings app will help you change any necessary settings. Sometimes the problem can be related to your hardware, especially if you are testing a build of Windows 11.
Other times, the problem is easier to fix. For example, disabling optional telemetry in Windows 11 will prevent you from participating in the Windows Insider Program.
Choose an update channel
When you join the Insider program, you will be offered several different channels. Microsoft provides descriptions of them. The Dev channel is the most unstable, the Beta channel has received the most testing, and the Release Preview channel will receive updates shortly before they stabilize.
If you’re not sure which one you want, start with the preview channel. It’s best for everyday use, and you can always opt for the Beta or Dev channels later on.
As of August 2022, the Dev channel has the latest experimental features for Windows 11 (most notably a Game Pass widget), the Beta channel has more rigorously tested versions and features of Windows 11, and the Release Preview channel has a new version for Windows. 10 22H2 and a new build for Windows 11.
Once you’ve chosen a channel, your PC will receive updates for that channel through Windows Update.
Stop getting internal builds
To stop receiving Insider builds, simply return to the Settings > Update & Security > Windows Insider Program page. Choose “Stop Insider Builds” to take your PC off the Insider track.
RELATED: How to switch from Insider to stable builds of Windows 11
You don’t actually have to sign out of the insider program with your Microsoft account. Windows will only install internal builds on PCs you’ve specifically activated them on, not all PCs you sign in to with that account.
In some cases, you may need to completely reinstall Windows 10 or Windows 11 on your PC after leaving Insider builds. In others, you may be able to roll back to the latest stable version of Windows. The Settings app will give you a variety of options to choose from. If you’re on a Release Channel build, you can also opt out of updates and wait until the version you’re running is officially released.
RELATED: How to do a clean install of Windows 10 easily