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Microsoft Skips Ahead to Windows 10's 20H1 Dev Branch

Microsoft has released Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 18836 to Skip Ahead members of the Windows Insider Program. The build is from the 20H1 development branch, which is interesting, because the company still hasn't finished work on the 19H1 branch. (Or even started releasing builds from the 19H2 branch.) Is this a Valentine's Day miracle from the fine folks over at Redmond?

Probably not. The company said it joined its Skip Ahead members in, well, skipping ahead because "some things we are working on in 20H1 require a longer lead time." So long, it seems, that it has to release 20H1 to Skip Ahead members even though it doesn't even plan to release "bits" of 19H2 until "later this spring after we get 19H1 nearly finished and ready" in the interim. That means testing some parts of a 2020 build before a 2019 build.

It's hard not to guess this multi-tiered approach has something to do with the Windows 10 October 2018 Update. That name wasn't particularly apt, because Microsoft had to repeatedly pull the release following various issues with multiple aspects of the update. It was only briefly available in October 2018; most people weren't prompted to install the update until January.

At the same time, issues with incremental updates to the previous version of Windows 10 popped up, making it seem like Microsoft was struggling to release a stable build to its customers. Offering its developers more testing time by helping certain Windows Insider Program members skip far, far ahead of their counterparts might help avoid some of those problems now.

So far as the build itself goes, there doesn't appear to be much of interest. Everything was collected under the "general changes, improvements, and fixes for PC" heading, which is usually a pretty good sign that Microsoft is working on things in the background instead of preparing flashy new features. (And, again, that makes sense given its recent troubles.)

We will say this: it's nice to see Microsoft practicing some self-love on this romantic holiday after engaging in a lover's quarrel with itself over Office 365 and Office 2019. It's good to know the company's not beating itself up too much over releasing a Windows 10 update to most people three months after its namesake, too, especially with some of the company's more exciting projects on the horizon.