All About Xbox Insider Preview Rings

In June of 2018, we announced the addition of Alpha Skip-Ahead to our existing Xbox One Update Preview rings. The goal was to allow gamers to provide feedback for Xbox One builds or features long before we expect to release them to the general public. Thanks to our most enthusiastic members that goal is becoming a reality.

Because we’ve seen confusion regarding the difference between rings, we hope this post will help you understand the purpose of each one.

Xbox Insider Program Rings

As of August 2019, the current Xbox Insider rings are:

  • Alpha Skip-Ahead – An “invite only” ring that receives preview builds of a future Xbox One OS release.
    • “Future” release means these builds may not be released to GA for some time. As such, they may contain different features than other rings.
  • Alpha – An “invite-only” ring that receives preview builds of the next upcoming Xbox One OS release.
    • This means this is a preview version of the build that will be delivered to the general audience (GA) next.
    • Alpha receives a preview release of the next upcoming build before any other ring.
  • Beta – An open ring to Xbox Insiders with 3 or more months tenure, with a level 5 or higher in the program.
    • Beta receives the next public release of an Xbox One OS starting at some point later than Alpha.
    • Once Beta receives a build, the build is typically released that same week Alpha receives them.
  • Delta – An open ring to Xbox Insiders with 1 or more months tenure, with a level 2 or higher in the program.
  • Omega – An open ring to anyone who would like to receive system updates and features shortly before they release to the GA.

Common Question from Xbox Insiders

“I’m in Skip-Ahead, but we haven’t gotten the same features as Alpha. Sometimes we get them after Alpha. What gives?”

Whenever Team Xbox releases a new build (or feature), the confidence in a ring’s stability helps us determine which ring might receive it. This stability is both dependent on the build itself and the service that powers it. Each ring is critical in ensuring Xbox One OS builds are in excellent condition when they’re released to GA. Alpha Skip-Ahead builds may include fundamental changes to the OS. This ring may also include or lack features the other “next” rings (Alpha, Beta, Delta and Omega) have.

Alpha Skip-Ahead is part of a different development branch from the other preview rings. The fundamental, core changes that are implemented into Alpha Skip-Ahead builds are done so to validate their stability and functionality. Not all the ways in which Alpha Skip-Ahead differs from the other rings will be obvious with every OS build. Changes that are integrated into other rings, that are visibly reflected in the UI (user interface), may not appear in Alpha Skip-Ahead right away, but our development teams work to get them out as quickly as possible. This ring serves as a building block for changes for Xbox One that have a larger impact on the functionality and stability of the system, overall.

Because of how much sooner Alpha Skip-Ahead receives system updates, this time allows for longer stress-testing of these features to see how they perform with a smaller audience we know we can trust to provide us critical feedback. Your feedback helps us ensure the feature or build performs and scales, as expected, before releasing to the next ring.

We hope this gives you some insight into how the rings work.

What preview ring am I in? 

If you’re not sure which preview ring your console is enrolled into, follow these steps:

  • Launch the Xbox Insider Hub on your Xbox One console
  • Select Insider content 
  • Choose System, then select Xbox One Update Preview
  • Select Manage
  • Your current preview ring will be displayed there

Thank You for Being an Xbox Insider

You have chosen to go above and beyond to help provide us with invaluable feedback and suggestions. We thank you all for your participation in making Xbox the experience it has been and will become!

Helpful Xbox Support Links

For more information: follow us on Twitter at @XboxInsider and this blog for release notes, announcements and more. And feel free to interact with the community on the Xbox Insider SubReddit.