The world met Windows 11 at Microsoft’s virtual launch event. Though new versions of such widespread operating systems as Windows initially get the people really pumped up, the joy of it fades out fairly quickly when you realize that rollout will take some time and not all computers would meet the minimum requirements for it.
However, the good news is almost everybody can get their hands on Windows 11 by registering for the Windows Insider Program, which will release preview builds for the operating system long before it is available to the general public.
If you have never enrolled in Windows Insider Program, there’s a lot to do and not much time to do it. Hence, let’s get started straight away.
What is Windows Insider Program?
The Windows Insider Program from Microsoft is basically meant for everybody, you could be a developer who wants to test out your application on the next update of Windows, you could be an administrator testing your organization’s infrastructure/ apps to assess the feasibility of updating to the next build, else you could be an average joey who just wants to look what is at the offer before anybody else.
To cater to each section of the Windows Insider community adequately, Microsoft has categorized their builds into channels that users can opt for depending on the quality and stability of the build they are most comfortable running on their machines.
Windows Insider Program Channels
The ‘Channels’ enables Microsoft to maintain and respect the diversity of the Windows Insider Program and also ensures to provide frequent updates for everyone enrolled. To know which channel to prefer when enrolling, let’s look into it a bit more closely.
- Dev Channel: This channel is ideal for developers, the builds received through Dev Channel will have the newest code under the hood but that also means it would be the most unstable build. Microsoft also brings it to the user’s notice that this build might also block some key functionalities.
- Beta Channel: Beta channel is for all the early adopters out there. These builds will have dependable and polished updates unlike the Dev Channel, and won’t be posing any major risk to your machine. If you are enrolling in the Beta Channel, make sure to provide honest and quality feedback as this could be the last junction before the final release of that particular build.
- Release Preview Channel: This channel will provide you with the most reliable builds, and will contain all the key features. Though they would not be available as early as Dev or Beta builds, they will still release prior to the general availability. This also the release Microsoft recommends to organizations and also provides support to the Business Insiders.
Now that you understand the channels, let us understand under which channel your PC can get the Windows 11 preview builds.
Will your PC be Compatible with Windows 11 Insider Preview?
Since the last generational update was six years ago, Microsoft has changed the minimum requirements your PC must meet to upgrade to Windows 11 and those same requirements also trickle down to the Windows Insider Program.
However, Microsoft is going to allow some exceptions to Insiders who are already enrolled with Dev Channel by allowing them to download the Windows 11 preview builds, as they were more or less contributing towards testing the functionalities of some modules of the new operating system since a year.
Though Dev Channel Insiders are pretty lucky to get the preview despite not meeting the minimum requirements or as Microsoft calls this a way of ‘saying thanks to them’, it’s just conditional access. Dev Channel Insiders who are not meeting the minimum requirements but are still getting access to preview build will have to roll back to Windows 10 once the Windows 11 will be available generally to the public later this year.
Not only Dev Channel, but some of the Beta Channel Insiders who meet the minimum requirements for the Insider Program but not the minimum requirement for Windows 11 will still have the option to install the preview builds but strictly at their discretion.
The hardest hit is the Release Preview Channel Insiders since only the machines meeting the minimum hardware criteria will be allowed to get preview builds. That being said majority of the Release Preview Channel Insiders already prefer stability over getting the upgrades first, and they weren’t holding their breath when Windows 11 was announced.
To get better clarity on which Insiders are getting which type of access, take a quick look at the chart below.
|Meets Windows 11 Requirements||Meets only Windows 11 Minimum Insider Program Requirements||Doesn’t meet |
|Eligible for Windows 11 Insider Preview|
|Eligible for Windows 11 Insider Preview|
|Eligible for Windows 11 updates only via|
Windows Insider Preview until General Availability.
|Eligible for Windows 11 Insider Preview||Eligible for Windows 11 Insider Preview but need to rejoin the Beta Channel.||Not eligible|
|Release Preview Channel|
(Existing & New)
|Eligible for Windows 11 Insider Preview|
at a later date
|Not eligible||Not eligible|
Now since have gathered all the knowledge on Insider Channels, Windows 11 preview build compatibility, and their access level to Insiders. Let’s learn how to enroll for the Windows Insider Program.
How to Download Windows 11 Insider Preview Builds
Enrolling in Windows Insider Program is a cakewalk and completely free of cost if you were wondering. You can either go to the Windows Insider Program website and register from there or you can do that from your Windows Settings app as well. Let’s explore both options.
Enroll in Insider Preview Dev Channel from Windows Settings
From the Settings application, click on the ‘Update & Security’ tile from the available options on the screen.
Then, click on the ‘Windows Insider Program’ from the sidebar.
Next, click on the ‘Get started’ button present on your screen.
After that, click on the ‘Register’ button available on the blue ribbon present on the screen.
Now, read the information regarding the program and click on the ‘Sign up’ button.
Then, check the ‘I’ve read and accept the terms of this agreement’ option and click on the ‘Submit’ button.
It will take Windows a moment to register you for the Windows Insider Program.
Once registered, you will receive an alert. Then, click on the ‘Close’ button to continue.
After that, click on the ‘Link an account’ option from the blue ribbon present on the screen.
Next, choose the account you are already using on your machine or click on the other available options to choose to sign in from a different account. Then, click on the ‘Continue’ button from the bottom right corner of the pane.
After that, you will be able to see all the Insider Channels available for your machine. You can choose any of your preferred ‘Channel’ (choose Dev Channel to get your hands on Windows 11 as early as possible) and then click on the ‘Confirm’ button.
Then read the terms and conditions present on the screen and click on the ‘Confirm’ button again.
Next, to receive your selected Channel updates click on the ‘Restart’ button situated on the ribbon present on your screen.
After restarting your device again head to the ‘Windows Insider Program’ option from the ‘Settings’ app. You will now be able to see your selected Channel on the screen. Along with confirmation that your system is in line to get Windows 11 developer preview builds.
No ‘Dev Channel’ option in Insider Settings? Here’s how to Force Enable It with a Registry Hack
Many users enrolling for the Windows Insider Program have not been able to receive the ‘Dev Channel’ option to enroll. Thankfully, we have a simple workaround to make sure you are enrolled into the ‘Dev Channel’ and are receiving the updates as soon as Microsoft pushes them.
To do so, first press Windows+R on your keyboard to bring up the ‘Run Command’ tool. Then type
regedit in the space provided and click on ‘OK’
Once the Registry Editor window opens, navigate to the following directory. You can also copy/paste the following path in the Registry Editor address bar:
Now, locate and double-click on the ‘BranchName’ string file from the available options.
Note: If you are not able to locate the string files under the ‘Applicability’ directory, make sure you have enrolled in Windows Insider Program (under any channel).
After that, type
Dev in the space provided under the ‘Value data:’ field. Then click ‘OK’ to confirm.
Note: There might be a different value already present in the ‘Value data:’ field, feel free to override it if that’s the case.
Next, move further down to locate the ‘ContentType’ string file and double-click on it to open.
Mainline in the text box present under the ‘Value data:’ field and click on ‘OK’ to confirm.
Similarly, double-click on the ‘Ring’ string file present further down in the list of options.
After that, type
External in the text box situated under the ‘Value data:’ field and click on ‘OK’ to confirm.
Once you have made the changes to the files, close the windows by clicking on the ‘X’ button from the top right corner of the window. Alternatively, you can also press
Alt+F4 to close the window.
Now click on the ‘Power’ option and then click on the ‘Restart’ option from the Start Menu to let the changes take effect.
Once your machine has restarted, go to the ‘Setting’ tab from the Start Menu. Alternatively, you can also press
Windows+I to open ‘Settings’.
Now, head to the ‘Update & Security’ tile from the available options.
Then, click on the ‘Windows Insider Program’ from the sidebar panel present on your screen.
You will now be able to see that you are registered under ‘Dev Channel’ in the Windows Insider Program.
Now you shall start to receive updates for the ‘Dev Channel’ as soon as Microsoft releases them.
However, please keep in mind that this workaround is only for bypassing the ‘Channel’ selection for the Windows Insider Program and might still need other minimum requirements like TPM 2.0 and SecureBoot to run Windows 11 Preview Build on your machine.
Enroll into Windows Insider Program from Microsoft Website
Even in the case you don’t have access to your Windows machine at the moment but want to enroll for the Windows Insider Program as soon as possible or facing any trouble enrolling from the Settings app, you can log on to the website and do that.
First, go to insider.windows.com and click on the ‘Register’ button.
Then, click on the ‘Sign in now’ link present on the screen and log in with your Microsoft account credentials. Once in, click on the ‘Register’ tab from the available options.
Then click on the ‘Register’ button present on your screen
After that, read the details present on your screen and check the ‘I accept the terms of this agreement’ option. Next, click on the ‘Register now’ option.
Once registered, click on the ‘Flight now’ option to continue.
You will be redirected to the ‘Start flighting’ page, make sure to read all the information to prepare your system to start installing the Windows 11 Insider Preview Builds.
Now, click on the ‘Open Settings’ button on the page if you are viewing the page on your Windows machine, otherwise switch to your Windows machine and open the ‘Settings application’ to continue ahead.
If you are opening the Settings app directly from the website, click on the ‘Open Settings’ alert presented to you on the screen.
Then, from the Windows Insider Program settings page, click on the ‘Get started’ button.
After that, link the Microsoft account that you used on the website to register for Windows Insider Program.
Then, pick the ‘Dev Channel’ from the Insider settings options to get Windows 11 at the earliest on your system. But know that it may ship with plenty of bugs/issues.
At last, confirm your settings and restart your PC. And after that, head to the ‘Windows Insider Program’ settings again and you shall see the ‘Dev Channel’ selected with a message about the upcoming Windows 11 builds.
Well, folks, you should soon start receiving the preview builds for Windows 11 as Microsoft starts to release them for the Dev channel.