Microsoft splits its Windows 11 beta in half, with new features disabled for some

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Microsoft released the latest build of the Windows 11 preview for the beta channel, but it’s now split into two groups: one gets a build with new features enabled – and the other doesn’t. And no one can choose which group they are in, and testers may lose previously released features.

That’s the life of a Windows Insider Beta guinea pig who signed up for the beta channel to get new features ahead of others, and may have forgotten that they’re also there to help Microsoft build Windows 11 the way it sees fit. That includes pulling new features earlier, which Microsoft is doing to some beta testers, even if it may annoy them.

So, while Microsoft is preparing Windows 11 version 22H2, Microsoft thinks it’s helpful to split the beta channel into “haves” and “have-nots” for new features.

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The main new feature Microsoft is releasing on the beta channel today is Suggested Actions released on the Dev Channel in May when it split its Windows 11 test builds for the Dev and Beta channels. At this point, Microsoft closed the option for users to switch from the Dev Channel to the Beta Channel.

Suggested actions make copy-paste and copy-call actions between apps faster by giving the user next step prompts. For example, if a user copies a date, Windows will suggest creating a calendar entry, while copying a phone number will cause you to call that number.

The other feature is OneDrive storage alert and subscription management in Settings. It began rolling out Microsoft 365 subscription management in Settings to the Dev channel in May

Starting today, Microsoft OneDrive will enable Standalone 100GB plans in the Accounts page within Settings, similar to the Microsoft 365 plans. Users can view recurring billing, payment method, and OneDrive storage usage in Windows 11.

How Microsoft is handling the split beta groups

Microsoft says the split beta groups are only during a “transitional period.” As mentioned, only one group of Windows 11 Beta testers will automatically get new features in this and future builds thanks to an “enablement package”. The other group without the activation pack has new features disabled by default.

Today Microsoft released Windows 11 build 22622.290 for the group getting new features: the other group will get build 22621.290 with new features disabled by default.

This transition will likely continue until at least the Windows 22H2 mainstream release, which is expected around October.

“A group of beta channel insiders are receiving Build updates with new features being rolled out or enabled through an activation pack like how we’re releasing updates to Windows 10 today,” Microsoft explains in a blog post

“A group of insiders in the beta channel are receiving Build updates with new features disabled by default.”

Majority of beta users will get the build with features enabled by default, according to Microsoft. But no one gets to decide which group they fall into.

Microsoft acknowledges that insiders “will want to choose which update they get”. For those who do get lumped into the off-by-default group, there is the option to opt out of the feature-off update and install the update with the features on.

“Insiders who end up in the group with new features that are disabled by default (Build 22621.xxxx) can check for updates and choose to install the update whose features are being rolled out (Build,” explains Microsoft.

The split beta groups allow Microsoft to see if a feature is stable enough to deploy more widely or too buggy to release at all.

“Based on this insight, it will help us make decisions about whether or not to make new features available to more Insiders by increasing their rollout or, in some cases, disabling a feature to address bugs. is to use the comparison data to ensure the best possible experience as we try out new features and experiences with Windows Insiders in the beta channel,” explains Microsoft.

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There’s another potentially annoying change for some beta testers. Some Insiders testers who previously had Windows 11 features “may see them disappear”. Microsoft recommends installing the activation package to restore the lost features.

“We realize this isn’t ideal, and we’re learning how to best adjust our rollouts going forward to minimize disruption to preview experiences,” Microsoft said.

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