Here’s an interesting tidbit from the July 29 version of Microsoft Docs “Deeper look at flighting.” And of course, as the lead sentence reads “Flighting is the process of running Windows Insider Preview Builds on your device.” In an amendment to prior policy, downgrading Dev Channel is now sometimes possible for test PCs or VMs. Let me explain…
What Downgrading Dev Channel Is Now Sometimes Possible Means
The key to switching without requiring a clean re-install (the prior policy in all cases) is that the Dev Channel must have the same or lower Build number than the target channel. That means switching from Dev Channel to another channel requires users “to find your current build number and compare it to the current build number in the channel you wish to switch to.” Build numbers appear in the output from winver.exe, and in Start → Settings → System → About.
I quote the step-by-step process verbatim from the previously linked flighting document:
- Open Settings > Windows Update > Windows Insider Program.
- Select Choose your Insider settings.
- Select the desired channel, either Beta Channel (Recommended), or Release Preview Channel.
- The next time you receive an update, it will be for your new channel.
This will make the process of downgrading channels simpler. It also provides an “exit strategy” for Dev Channel PCs. Prior policy insisted that the only escape from Dev Channel could be a clean re-install of some other Windows version. The other channels have always offered the option to drop back to production/RTM versions when they become available. This extends that out to Dev Channel, but requires two steps to get there: first drop back to Beta or Insider Preview, then drop back to production/RTM. Good stuff!
Why Am I Telling You This … Now?
As you look at the WinVer output from Dev Channel (left) and Beta Channel (right) in the lead graphic, right now the Build numbers are the same. That means that you can downgrade Dev Channel PCs as I write this story. Given that MS hasn’t released a Dev Channel build in a while this can’t last forever. If you want to try it out, act fast — or wait for the next synch-up. Your call…