Christmas came early for members of the Windows Insider Program, who today received an unexpected new preview build, just ahead of the expected holiday lull.
Build 11082 is available now via Windows Update for Insider Program members who've opted into the Fast ring.
Like all preview releases, the new build has an expiration date (July 15, 2016, in this case) and leaves a watermark on the desktop indicating it's an evaluation version.
It's also significant that the build number has jumped substantially, from 10586 (the November update) to one that begins with 11. That suggests this is the first build in a series that should culminate with the major "Redstone" update in mid-2016.
Gabe Aul, who announced the release in a blog post earlier today, tried to dampen expectations for preview users:
With this build, you won't see big noticeable changes or new features just yet. Right now, the team is focused on product improvements based on the feedback we're hearing on the November update to Windows 10. This includes the changes that have also been going out as cumulative updates through Windows Update on your PCs running the Windows 10 November Update.
The new build will be available for Windows 10 Mobile devices, Aul added.
This release is also the beginning of a big push to make "structural improvements to OneCore, which is the shared core of Windows across devices," he said. "We're doing some code refactoring and other engineering work to make sure OneCore is optimally structured for teams to start checking in new features and improvements in the new year."
Next year should also see preview builds arrive in the Fast ring at a faster pace, Aul said, promising to "pick up the pace" beginning in January:
To do this, we are re-evaluating the ring promotion criteria to allow more builds to reach Windows Insiders. The new criteria will be much closer to our criteria for flighting to our internal rings, which means more builds will pass it and be released externally to the Fast ring. This also means however that the builds we release to the Fast ring may include more bugs and other issues that could be slightly more painful for some people to live with. It's a tradeoff - as the thing that throttles the rate of builds is the promotion criteria.
If you're an Insider program member and not prepared for that level of volatility, now might be the time to move the slider to the Slow ring.