Before Microsoft can add new features to Windows, it relies on people to test these new features through the Windows Insider program. This free program lets you install pre-release versions of Windows before they’re released to the general user base and be among the first to play around with cool new features and provide feedback.
Over the past few years, the program has naturally focused on updates and new versions of Windows 10. However, now that Windows 11 has been unveiled, Microsoft is also offering a preview version for this next generation of Windows. Whether you want to stick with Windows 10 or want to test Windows 11 for a test drive, the registration process is the same.
Sign up for the Windows Insider program
To join the Windows Insider program, you first need a Microsoft account. If you don’t already have one, go to the Microsoft Account page and click Create a Microsoft account. Follow the steps to set up your account. You can use an existing email address from Google, Yahoo, Outlook, or another email service, or create a new account using outlook.com or hotmail.com.
After creating your Microsoft account, go to the Windows Insider page. Click it Register now and sign in with your Microsoft account.
Prepare the test environment
Whether you want to preview versions of Windows 10 or Windows 11, you will need a licensed version of Windows 10. This can be downloaded from Microsoft’s Windows 10 download page. However, since this is essentially a beta version of the operating system, you probably don’t want to wipe out your current Windows 10 environment.
Instead, you’ll want to run your insider build on a spare PC, in a dual-boot environment, or in a virtual machine. I use the free programs VMWare Workstation Player and Oracle VM VirtualBox to host the test versions of Windows and I have recruited them to run the insider version of Windows 11.
Once this environment is configured, install Windows 10 by clicking on the button Download the tool now button under the Create Windows 10 installation media section. Save and run the file called MediaCreationTool.exe, then choose your installation media to install Windows 10 from: USB drive, DVD, or ISO file.
Follow the steps to install Windows 10. Next, make sure the installation is licensed with a product key or virtual license associated with your account.
Configure the insider program
Launch Windows 10 on your computer or test environment and navigate to Settings> Update & Security> Windows Insider Program. In the right pane of the section titled Get Insider Preview, click the button To start button.
Click on Link an account in the pop-up window and confirm the Microsoft account you want to use to access Insider versions. Click on Carry on.
The next screen prompts you to choose from three different types of Insider settings: Dev channel, Beta channel, or Release preview channel. If you want preview versions for Windows 10, choose Release Preview Channel.
If you want builds for Windows 11, select either Development channel or Beta channel. The Dev Channel will contain the latest features and updates for Windows 11, but may be more buggy, while the Beta Channel will contain features and updates that have already been tweaked by Microsoft and are more stable.
Select your favorite channel and click To confirm. The following screen explains the preview software that you will receive and provides links to read the Microsoft Insider Privacy Statement and the Microsoft Insider Program Agreement. Click on To confirm to continue, then click Restart now to restart your computer.
After your computer has restarted, log back in and go back to Settings> Update & Security> Windows Insider Program. Confirm that the program is on and that it points to the channel you have chosen.
Install the preview version for Windows 10 or 11
Now head to Settings> Update & Security> Windows Update and click on the Check for updates button. You should see the latest Insider Preview updates for the version of Windows you selected. Allow the download and installation of updates. Once the updates have downloaded, click the button Restart now button to restart your computer.
Your PC restarts and installs updates. Log on to Windows and spend some time working and playing in the new environment to see what you like and don’t like.
Share your feedback with Microsoft
After you’ve been using your insider version for a while, you might want to share your feedback with Microsoft on what you like, what you don’t like, and what you want to see changed. To do this, click on the Start button and open the Feedback Hub from your PC.
For more information, you can also first go back to the Windows Insider webpage and scroll down to click the button Understanding the comments connect. Read the resulting page to learn more about how, where and why to provide feedback. When you’re ready to share your comment, click share your opinion to open the comments hub.
At the Feedback Hub, you can read Microsoft’s posts and provide feedback on your Windows experience. Click it Return category to view comments from other Windows insiders. If you agree with a specific comment, click the button Positive vote icon to share your approval.
You can reply to an existing comment by clicking on the button add a comment connect. Type your comment then click on Post a comment to publish.
To give your own opinion, click on Give new comments. Enter your comments, then click following and choose a category and a subcategory for your comments. Click on following so what following again. When finished, click Submit and close the Feedback Hub.
Opt out of the Windows Insider program
If you no longer wish to be part of the Windows Insider program, go to Settings> Update & Security> Windows Insider Program under Windows 10 and Settings> Windows Update> Windows Insider Program in Windows 11.
Click on Stop receiving preview versions. Depending on your current settings, you can change your channel, unregister your device when the next version of Windows is released, or unregister your device immediately.