As Microsoft has done in the past, it has created a fork in its Windows Insider program as it looks ahead to its next major upgrade. Insiders who want to stay on the current path can do so and will continue to receive new Redstone 4 builds in both the Fast and Slow rings. Likewise, Insiders who want to test out the next major update to Windows 10 can "skip ahead" and start playing with Microsoft's first Redstone 5 build, which is now available.
"Up until today—Insiders who opted into Skip Ahead previously were receiving the same exact RS4 builds as Insiders in the Fast ring since Build 17017. Skip Ahead never 'turned off' and many Insiders remained in Skip Ahead since joining at the beginning of RS4. Starting today—Windows Insiders who opted into Skip Ahead will now start receiving new builds for RS5 which is our next Windows 10 release. These builds will come from the RS_PRERELEASE branch," Microsoft explains.
For now, Microsoft is only allowing a small subset of Insiders in the Fast ring to opt into Skip Ahead, as the company wants the majority of Insiders to keep testing Redstone 4 builds and report any bugs they find. In fact, users who are not already opted in to Skip Ahead are out of luck, as the option is currently grayed out, meaning all available slots have been filled (by previous users who had already opted in).
The first build for Redstone 5 is build 17604. Like build 17101 (Redstone 4), it contains design updates to its collection of emojis, improved Universal Windows App (UWP) permissions, and a whole bunch of fixed issues (more so for Redstone 4). There is also a new power scheme called Ultimate Performance. This is primarily intended for workstations that deal with demanding workloads.
"This new policy builds on the current High-Performance policy, and it goes a step further to eliminate micro-latencies associated with fine grained power management techniques. The Ultimate Performance Power plan is selectable either by an OEM on new systems or selectable by a user. To do so, you can go to Control Panel and navigate to Power Options under Hardware and Sound (you can also “run” Powercfg.cpl). Just like other power policies in Windows, the contents of the Ultimate Performance policy can be customized," Microsoft says.
For the time being, this new power mode is not available on battery-operated systems (laptops and such), as it can consume more power than other available plans, and shorten battery life as a result. This is something that Microsoft plans to evaluate and fine tune over time.