If you are interested in trying out the distant future of Windows features – say, Windows 12? – the new Windows Insider channel “Canary” may be in your corner.
Microsoft debuted its fourth new Windows Insider Channel on Monday morning. “Canary” joins the other Windows Insider channels as a way for you to test new features before they arrive in Windows 11. Generally, the order is as follows: Release Preview for code that is about to be released, while the Beta Channel is the code that is definitely scheduled, by a little further.
The Dev Channel and the new Canary Channel are more experimental. Microsoft “relaunched” the Dev Channel on Monday, with an eye toward enthusiasts who want to test new code that never sees the light of day. “Canary” is very dangerous, and the new channel is accompanied by warnings that it may put your PC in a situation where you need to reinstall Windows.
On the other hand, the Canary Channel will be a way for you to see what Microsoft is doing for the next release of Windows. What is Microsoft not will, apparently, always tell you what parts are possible. “We will offer limited documentation for Canary Channel, but we will not publish a blog post for each flight – if new features are available in a build. We will continue to provide posts on blog for Dev, Beta, and Release Preview releases as we always do,” Microsoft said in a blog post.
Windows Central points out that the new channel can be used to debut the so-called Windows vNext, code that will not end with Windows 11 but may be released in a new version, aka Windows 12. Put another way, the Dev Channel is designed for enthusiasts who want to test code within the Windows 11 timeframe, but the Canary Channel may end up being reserved for Windows 12 (or 13?) experiments.
Joining the Windows Insider program for Windows 11 is easy. In its blog post, Microsoft suggests that now might be a good time to switch channels, which you can do via Windows Insider part of Settings > Windows Update section of the Settings menu. Just remember that while it’s easy to move to more advanced channels (from Release Preview to Beta to Dev to Canary), it’s harder to back out. That’s because Windows doesn’t want you to “update” an earlier build. In that case, you can reinstall Windows, which will delete all your installed applications. In other words, the Insider build is still the best left for a second engine that is tolerant of bugs and other glitches.
Rumor has it, however, that Windows 12 could debut in 2024. If you want to roll the dice and start getting an early look, than the Canary Channel might be for you.