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Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Now is the best time to preview Windows 11 as it lands in the beta channel

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Microsoft has released its first preview build of Windows 11 to the beta channel, which in theory should be more stable and less buggy than the initial builds that floated through the developer channel. So if you’re wanting to experiment with the upcoming OS, this is a good time to jump into the pool and get your feet wet.

That’s not to say it will be completely devoid of issues. Bugs and quirks come with the territory when testing out pre-release software. But the latest build (22000.100) should be the most stable yet. It also means if you are already testing Windows 11 in the Windows Insider program, this is the time to hop over to the Beta Channel for the least buggy experience.

“If you are in the Dev Channel, now would be the right time to consider switching to the Beta Channel if you want to stay on more stabilized builds of Windows 11,” Microsoft states.

The list of bug fixes with the latest build is rather long: over a dozen fixes apply just to the taskbar, while a whole bunch more tweak File Explorer, Search, and the general Windows 11 experience.

In order to test Windows 11, you need to be a member of the Windows Insider program. You can become one by navigating to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Insider Program and then follow the prompts. Depending on your existing privacy settings, you might be required to enable optional diagnostic data collection before you can join.

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It’s best to do this with a spare PC that supports Windows 11, if you have one, rather than using your main system. Either way, it is a good idea to back up any important files first, just in case things go wrong. Alternatively, you can give Windows 11 a whirl inside a virtual machine. I’ve had success getting it up and running using VMware’s free Workstation Player.

The other option is to hang tight for the final release that gets pushed out to the public at large. Microsoft has said Windows 11 will be available for new machines and as a clean install on existing ones by the holidays. An Intel GPU driver document suggests it will release in October, but if not, we’re likely looking at November.

For existing Windows 10 systems, the upcoming OS will be available as an in-place upgrade via Windows Update in early 2022. It’s not a bad idea to wait even a little big longer before hopping on board, just to let early adopters be the ones to suss out any wrinkles in need of ironing. But if you’re eager to get Windows 11 on your PC, you have options (starting with Windows Insider program).

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