Microsoft skips way, way ahead in new Windows 10 build

In a world largely powered by Windows 10 1803, it's a bit surreal to be talking about Windows 10 technology due in 2020.

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With Microsoft’s latest “19H1” feature release of Windows 10 nearing completion, the company has opted to “skip ahead” and release builds of subsequent feature releases to testers. What’s totally unexpected is that the “20H1” build—not due for another year—will be among those releases.

Windows 10 Build 1836 (which will eventually be released under 20H1) doesn’t have any noteworthy features; it’s mainly a collection of bugfixes and tweaks to existing features, such as a “tamper protection” setting that prevents bad actors from messing with your security settings. Known issues, such as a “green screen of death” when launching games with anti-cheat software, means that this is really a developer-only build.

What’s interesting though, is the vast diversity in current Windows 10 development. Many PCs are still running Windows 10 version 1803, from March 2018, after which Microsoft adopted a go-slow approach to Windows 10 version 1809, also known as the October 2018 Update. The vast majority of Microsoft’s Windows 10 Insiders are testing version 19H1, also known as the Windows 10 April 2019 Update. And as for the Windows 10 19H2 release: It’s due “later this spring,” Microsoft said in a blog post.

Here’s how Microsoft explains it all: “These [new] builds are from the 20H1 development branch. Some things we are working on in 20H1 require a longer lead time. We will begin releasing 19H2 bits to Insiders later this spring after we get 19H1 nearly finished and ready; once 19H1 is ‘nearly finished and ready’ we’ll also use the Release Preview ring for previews of drivers and quality updates on 19H1.”

What this means to you: If you’re reading the tea leaves for an ETA on Windows 10 19H1, Microsoft is saying you’ll know it’s nearly completed when 19H2 builds begin to be released. While it’s nice to see Microsoft draw back the curtain, giving us a glimpse of what’s coming, it’s a bit surreal to be talking about next year’s Windows 10 builds when a substantial chunk of the computing world is using an OS from about a year ago.

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