June 6, 2023

The companies which develop operating systems and applications don’t stand still for a minute. Every day, teams at Microsoft, Google, Apple are working on major updates to Windows, Chrome, macOS, iOS and Android. At Mozilla, new iterations of Firefox are compiled nearly every single day. This fresh code often includes helpful new features, but publishers don’t rush new versions out the door because they’re afraid of shipping something out that could have bugs.

However, if you like to be among the first to try new tech, you can join free beta test programs that get you new versions of your favorite programs before they are released into production. If you keep your important data files backed up and you’re willing to deal with the small risk of crashes and bugs, running pre-release software is a great way to stay ahead of the curve and take advantage of new capabilities that other folks won’t get for months. For example, Chrome beta users got access to tab silencing and FLAC-file support long before everyone else.

What It is: Microsoft’s operating system program delivers a new Windows 10 build via automatic update every week or so. Users can choose to be in the Fast Ring, which delivers the very latest version of Windows 10, or the Slow Ring which is a few builds behind and less likely to have bugs. Insider is available for both Windows 10 PCs and Windows 10-powered smartphones. Insiders can get a look at Windows 10 Creators Update and new features like Start Menu folders, blue-light filtering and app throttling months before everyone else.