Old Windows 10 preview builds won’t boot if particpants fail to upgrade

Kevin Parrish
Old Windows 10 preview builds won’t boot if particpants fail to upgrade
Windows Insider program lead Dona Sarkar warns that old preview builds of Windows 10 distributed in the Fast Ring will stop booting next month. It's part of an effort to crack down on users who may think they grabbed a free copy of Windows 10.

In addition to announcing the launch of Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 14926 on Wednesday, Windows Insider program lead Dona Sarkar provided a warning to Fast Ring participants who are holding on to older preview builds of Windows 10: upgrade or else.

Microsoft deems these releases as evaluation copies with expiration dates so participants don’t think they get a free copy of Windows 10 to use indefinitely. Starting Thursday, Microsoft plans to get really aggressive about pushing participants into updating their machines to the latest Windows Insider build.

According to Sarkar, “really old” copies of Insider Preview builds from the Fast Ring will begin pushing expiration notifications to users each day. When October 1 arrives, these PCs will start rebooting every three hours. While that sounds completely annoying, Microsoft’s aggressive plan gets even worse on October 15: the affected PCs will stop booting altogether. This aggressive push to spur upgrades does not apply to the Slow and Release Preview rings sporting Preview Build 14393.

Related: Here’s how to fix 18 common problems with Microsoft Edge

“If your PC is running one of these old Insider Preview builds, please make sure you update to Build 14926 via Settings > Update & security > Windows Update. Build 14926 has an updated expiration date of May 1, 2017,” Sarkar said.

The whole point of the Windows Insider program is to provide feedback to Microsoft so the company can release and maintain a stable, feature-rich operating system. Forcing participants to upgrade to the latest build is understandable from a piracy standpoint, and if participants aren’t comfortable with the shaky builds in the Fast Ring, they can always switch to the other two less-risky models. Participating in the Windows Insider program is free, bvut it does not provide indefinite access to Windows 10.

In addition to the warning, Sarkar also said that Windows Insiders can take advantage of Microsoft Rewards. It’s basically the company’s renamed rewards program (formerly Bing Rewards) that offers points for browsing the Internet with Microsoft Edge, shopping in the Microsoft and Windows Stores, using Bing to search the Internet, and more. Even on Preview Builds, Insiders can rack up the points and redeem them for Xbox or Windows gift cards.

“As your points rack up, so do your opportunities to get great rewards,” Microsoft says in an FAQ. “We make it simple to track progress toward anything you’ve got your eye on, including gift cards, sweepstakes, and donations to charity.”

The latest Insider Preview, 14926, is available now for both the PC and Mobile. It follows 14915 for both platforms, which was released on August 31, and 14905, released on August 17. Microsoft is ever so slowly adding new features to Windows 10 here and there, such as the new “Snooze” action for Microsoft Edge. Perhaps when later builds start piling on the new features, participants will be more willing to let go of older Insider Preview builds.