Yesterday, Microsoft released a new Windows 10 build, KB 3163014. There's no associated KB article.
The new build, which brings Windows 10 version 1511 up to build 10586.338, is being distributed to the very small group of people in the so-called Windows 10 Insider Release Preview ring.
Microsoft quondam Windows spokesman Gabe Aul announced the Insider Release Preview ring back in February, but it was tacked on the end of a Windows Experience blog post that you might've missed -- "Announcing Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview Build 10586.107." Later in the post, Aul explained that new Windows Insider Preview ring:
Will focus on Insiders that want to stay on the Current Branch (currently builds based off of 10586), but continue to receive early access to updates, application updates, and driver updates.... Best for Insiders who enjoy getting early access to updates for the Current Branch, Microsoft applications, and drivers, with minimal risk to their devices, and still want to provide feedback to make Windows devices great.
He goes on to link to a Feb. 10 Windows Insider Hub article. That articles goes into great depth about the Windows and Devices Group, Windows as a Service, the difference between feature upgrades and servicing updates, DB, CB, CBB, LTSB and other topics guaranteed to put you to sleep.
Here's what they don't say:
If you're an admin for any Windows 10 PCs or if you work for a company that builds any kind of software that could run on Windows 10, you need to get at least one of your Win10 test machines set up for the Insider Release Preview ring.
The reason's simple: To a first approximation, Microsoft's releasing Win10 cumulative updates a week or so early so that you can test them before they go out to the unwashed masses. Microsoft billed the Insider Release Preview ring as a kinder, gentler alternative to the Insider Program beta Slow Ring. While that's a fair description, more or less, it masks the real import of the Insider Release Preview ring: It's a way for you (and admins and devs) to kick around cumulative updates before they go out the Automatic Update chute.
If that sounds vaguely familiar, take a look at my proposal for a Patch Monday published in InfoWorld three years ago.
So much for theory. Here's how it worked last month. On or about April 27, Microsoft released a patch for the Windows Insider Preview ring that changed Windows 10 build 10586.218 (released April 12) to build 10586.240. If you missed it, I forgive you -- news of the release got all mashed up with a Windows Mobile build that I, for one, mistook for a death rattle.
Those in the Insider Release Preview ring had a chance to kick the tires on the cumulative update for a couple of weeks before Microsoft released the "for real" Win10 Cumulative Update on May 10. The real cumulative update, though, wasn't for build 10586.242, but it brought Win10 1511 machines up to build 10586.318. If you were kicking the tires with 10586.242, there were additional changes prior to the real mainstream release -- but at least you had a chance to kick a few tires, rather than have the whole mess arrive unbidden.
I've seen no reports of problems updating from 10586.242 to 10586.318.
Right now, it appears unlikely that the next cumulative update will go to build 10586.338. There's a new kid in town, 10.0.10586.416.th2_release_sec.160523-1816, that appears to be destined for the Windows 10 Automatic Update chute sometime later this week or early next week.
That'll bring plain-vanilla Win10 machines up to 10586.416. Still, if you administer a group of Win10 computers or you distribute software that'll run on Win10 computers, it'd be a very good idea to run 10586.338 through the wringer. Scream bloody murder in the Feedback app if you find a problem.
If you want to put a PC on the Insider Release Preview rings, it's a two-step process. First you have to use a Windows account to join the Insider Program, which can take a day or two for approval. Once your account has been approved for the Insider Program, you need to log on to a Windows 10 PC with that account, then go to Start > Settings > Update & Security. Click the link to Advanced options. At the bottom, under Get Insider Preview builds, click Get Started, and go through the motions. After you reboot, you will be in the Slow Ring. Go through the sequence once again and move the slider to the left to get into Insider Release Preview ring. The latest Insider Preview ring build should be in Windows Update immediately.
Patch Monday is here. Use it.