Over the last 18 months of the Windows Insider Program, Microsoft has always followed a specific process for determining when they would release an ISO image for Windows Insider builds.
That guideline has been that no ISO images would be released to Insiders until a build entered the Slow Ring because those builds were considered stable enough for those users. If an ISO is released before that build enters the Slow Ring it means any user could upgrade to that build without the Slow Ring block being checked off. Considering how buggy many Fast Ring builds can be this could end up in a real mess for a user expecting the more stable Slow Ring release.
Well, after releasing Builds 15002 and 15007 last week to Fast Ring Insiders, Microsoft has decided to go ahead and provide ISOs for the very buggy 15002 build ahead of its possible promotion to the Slow Ring. Although, now that I think about it, a buggy build like 15002 would not usually ever make it to the Slow Ring anyway.
The reason for the ISO release at this point is to test a specific set of new features for the Windows 10 Creators Update that were first available in Build 15002 during the Out Of Box Experience, OOBE for short, that introduces voice control in the install/setup process to make that process more accessible for those with disabilities.
Here is the description of the new feature from Microsoft's announcement blog post for Build 15002:
"A more inclusive experience out of the box: The Windows Out-Of-Box-Experience (OOBE) Team has been working to reimagine how people set up their PCs for the first time. Our goal is to make this simpler and more accessible so every person powering on their new PC can independently set it up. While we have made numerous improvements in past releases to achieve this goal, we now want to take it to the next level where people can listen and respond to Cortana verbally (when asked questions*) to further simplify and make the setup process more accessible to even more people.
This new experience is still a work in progress, so there are some places that still include the older OOBE pages and Cortana is unable to help you get your PC fully set up. We plan to continue to do more work on this so stay tuned!"
I was able to try this new experience out last week when I did an OS reset of my Windows 10 Creators Update testing device that I had upgraded to Build 15002.
It is definitely a work in progress and several areas of the OOBE need to have their layout tweaked so everything is properly displayed but the voice recognition worked just fine when it was available.
Now, with the availability of those Build 15002 ISOs on the Windows Insider website you can test this process yourself by performing a clean install using the ISOs or just resetting a current test device running Build 15002.
However, here is my advice. If you are normally a Slow Ring participant in the Windows Insider Program do not upgrade to Build 15002 just because these ISOs are available to participants.
I asked Dona Sarkar, head of the Windows Insider Program for Microsoft, if the release of the 15002 ISOs meant that build was also being designated for the Slow Ring and she confirmed what I suspected - it is not a Slow Ring build.
So if you are a Fast Ring tester then by all means try out the new voice controlled elements of the OOBE and give Microsoft feedback about the experience. For everyone else - hang tight until that next stable Slow Ring build arrives to move your system up to the next build.
With all of the new features introduced with 15002/15007 it can be very tempting to jump ahead but take my word on this - they are buggy and deserve their status in the Fast Ring.
If you are in the Fast Ring have you tried the new voice controlled OOBE yet?
What did you think?