Windows 10 begins early testing for major 2020 upgrade

Earlier-than-expected beta testing comes in the wake of Microsoft's April 2018 and October 2018 rollout disasters

Microsoft has announced it has begun beta testing a major Windows 10 upgrade due in 2020 despite the operating system's next two flagship updates still months from release.

Windows Insiders who have opted into the 'skip ahead' developer programme will be granted access to a new build, dubbed "20H1", in order to test features not due for release until next year.

This timetable is especially premature considering the next major upgrade, due in April, is just reaching the "nearly finished and ready" development stage, and the update after that, due in October, won't begin testing until this point.

The decision to begin assessing certain elements of 20H1 at this stage was made, however, because these features require a "longer lead time", the firm's head of the Windows Insider Program Dona Sarkar said in a blog post.

"As is normal with builds early in the development cycle, builds may contain bugs that might be painful for some," Sarkar said. "If you take this flight, you won't be able to switch back to the Fast or Slow rings without doing a clean-install on your PC and starting over.

"We will begin releasing 19H2 bits to Insiders later this spring after we get 19H1 nearly finished and ready; once 19H1 is "nearly finished and ready" we'll also use the Release Preview ring for previews of drivers and quality updates on 19H1."

Microsoft hasn't announced any of the new features expected in the Windows 10 2020 update, and has warned developers who have opted in to test this build that they should expect a greater level of instability.

The decision to test 20H1 far earlier than expected also comes in light of Microsoft's sequentially botched Windows 10 upgrades last year. Both the April 2018 and October 2018 updates encountered severe difficulties and brought disruption to many Windows users.

The April 2018 update, for instance, wasn't fully released until a week after it was initially slated to appear, because developers discovered a critical 'blocking bug' that could have caused millions to experience the infamous Blue Screen of Death (BSOD).

The issues that blighted the October 2018 update were on a far grander scale, however, with a series of critical bugs, including two separate file-deleting glitches, causing massive disruption to its rollout.

The October update didn't see the light of day, as far as general users were concerned, until mid-November, with Microsoft having initially released it on 3 October only to pull it a few days later.

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