As you may have heard, Microsoft has released an updated build of the Windows 10 Technical Preview, which means that we’ve jumped up from Build 9841 to Build 9860 in just three weeks. That’s great news, because it’s an early indication that Microsoft is making good on its promise to more quickly release updates — as outlined by Mary Jo Foley in her recent ZDNet post titled “Why Microsoft’s engineering changes will be the real Windows 9 (Threshold) story.”

While this post came out before we knew that the next version of the operating system was going to be called Windows 10, Microsoft has already made it known that they were going to be working towards a speedier release cycle for updates to the new version of Windows. Rather than three to six months between new test builds, Microsoft was touting a one month turnaround. With the initial Windows 10 Technical Preview, Build 9841 released on September 30 and the Build 9860 update on October 21, I’d say we’re off to a good start!

So, how do you go about getting the new update? Well, that’s the best part, because getting the update is as easy as accessing the Update and recovery tab in PC Settings. In addition to getting the update from the Update and recovery tab, you can also specify how quickly you would like to get future updates. Let’s take a closer look.

Microsoft’s ring progression

Before we dig into how to perform the update and choose an update velocity, let take a brief look at Microsoft’s ring progression as described by Gabe Aul, who leads the Data & Fundamentals Team within the Operating Systems Group (OSG) at Microsoft. This will help to understand how Microsoft is working to improve the speed of the release cycles.

According the Aul:

“Every day our build process compiles the latest changes our engineers have made and produces a build that is automatically sent out to our ‘Canary ring’ – people in OSG who want to be the first to get started using and testing the newest code. Once we have validated with that group that the build is stable enough to use by more people, it is sent out to the next ring – all of OSG – where we validate it with that audience. From there, we send it to tens of thousands of people here at Microsoft, and after it proves stable enough there, we make it available to you.”

Aul then illustrates the ring progression, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

The ring of progression for Microsoft’s release of the Windows 10 Technical Preview, Build 9860.

Going forward after Build 9860, Aul describes how the ring progression will be enhanced:

“In PC Settings, Update and recovery, Preview builds, you’ll see a new drop-down menu with options for ‘Fast’ or ‘Slow.’ By default, everyone will be in the ‘slow’ ring. If you’re adventurous and want to see the build right as it comes out, you’ll want to be in the ‘fast’ ring, which means that you’ll get it from Windows Update on the day it comes out. If you want to wait a bit and let others find any gotchas so that the community gets caught up with known issues and workarounds, then you’ll want to stay in the ‘slow’ ring.”

Aul then illustrates the new ring progression, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

The ring of progression for Microsoft’s release of the future Windows 10 Technical Preview builds.

So, now you have a good idea of how the improved release mechanism will work for the Windows 10 Technical Preview. I encourage you to read Aul’s full article, because it’s very enlightening.

Getting the update

Launching the preview update is easy. The actual update procedure itself can be quite lengthy due to all the wizardry happening in the background. And of course, it’s not without problems. My first couple of attempts failed, but it did so gracefully. No data was lost, and Build 9841 came back to life as if nothing happened.

To begin, launch File Explorer, select ThisPC, and then click the Open Settings icon in the Ribbon (Figure C).

Figure C

You can quickly launch PC Settings from File Explorer.

When you see the PC Settings page, select the Update and recovery tab. Next, select the Preview builds tab, where you’ll see that the new preview build is ready to be accessed. Just click the Download now button, and follow along with the initial steps (Figure D). Once the installation is underway, you can go get a cup of coffee or run a few errands as no further user input is required.

Figure D

Launching the preview update is easy; however, the procedure itself can be quite lengthy.

Your system will restart a couple of times and run through the full install procedure, including the colorful screens with witty descriptions of what’s happening. When the process is complete, you can begin exploring the new update.

Changing the update velocity

One of the first things that you might want to do is change how quickly that you receive future preview builds. As you’ll recall, by default, everyone is in the Windows Insiders Slow Ring. To move to the Fast Ring, return to the Preview builds tab and select Fast from the drop-down menu (Figure E).

Figure E

You can join the Fast Ring once you’ve downloaded and installed Build 9860.

What’s your take?

What do you think about Microsoft’s accelerated release turnaround time? Will you join the Fast Ring to get future preview builds before those in the Slow Ring? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.