Over on Twitter, Microsoft's Windows Insider program head Dona Sarkar confirmed what we expected last week in that no more testing builds for Redstone 2 aka the Creators Update will be released for the final two weeks of 2016.
That means the last official build of 2016 is 14986. It was sent to Fast Ring Insiders on December 7, and then made available to those in the Slow Ring a week later. In comparison, last December Gabe Aul pushed out the first Redstone 1 testing build to Fast Ring Insiders on the 16th of that month.
While the two cycles and dates come within a week of each other, a big difference from last year to this year is that testing of the Anniversary Update was just getting started. With today's pause in the program for 2016, we are already four months into the testing process for Redstone 2 aka the Creators Update.
A quick comparison of the number of builds released for the initial and major Feature Updates for Windows 10 will give you an idea on just how fast the pace has picked up over the lifetime of the Windows Insider Program.
Windows 10 Version 1507 (Initial Release of Windows 10 in July 2015)
Over the nine months that testing builds were released for this version of Windows 10, there were only 14 builds (PC) released to Windows Insiders.
That was an average of 1.5 builds per month.
Windows 10 Version 1511 (November Update released in November 2015)
This first major update to Windows 10 was tested for just three months before its release.
Just six builds (PC) were pushed out to Windows Insiders for an average of two builds per month.
Windows 10 Version 1607 (Anniversary Update released on 02 August 2016)
This was the second major update to Windows 10 and was in the testing stage for eight months between December 2015 and July 2016.
Windows 10 Version 17XX (Redstone 2/Creators Update expected to be released in Spring 2017)
As mentioned above, we are just in a down period for the release of testing builds for this third major update coming to Windows 10.
Since Windows Insiders began receiving testing builds in August, over a period of five months, there have been 14 PC and 10 Mobile builds and that is an average of 2.8 and 2 monthly builds respectively for Redstone 2 testing.
If you compare the average number of monthly builds between the Anniversary Update and the Creators Update, you will see that although the numbers look to be lagging for the Creators Update builds, each cycle also has a 3 month difference between them for now. If the Creators Update comes out in March, that means at least 2 or 3 more months worth of builds are yet to come out for testers.
In the final three months of testing for the Anniversary Update, two of which were under the leadership of Dona Sarkar - the current head of the Windows Insider Program, there were 14 builds released to testers. I fully expect the pace in the last 2 to 3 months to be just as intense and that means we could potentially see just as many builds after the new year leading up to the release of the Creators Update.
Those additional builds would push the total for the Creators Update to 28 PC and 24 Mobile each and would then result in an average of 3.5 PC and 3 Mobile builds per month over the entire testing period. That would make the testing cycle for the Creators Update the most aggressive to date for Windows 10.
Of course, anything can happen when it comes to software testing and getting builds released to Windows Insiders but it is fun to do a little speculation along the way!