Although we have been testing the Creators Update for Windows 10 on PCs and Mobile devices since late last year, the update, which is targeted towards all devices in the Windows 10 ecosystem, is now rolling out for testing to the Xbox One Update Preview Program.

Back in December it looked like Microsoft had shifted their Xbox Insider Program to a setup that anyone could join by installing the Xbox One Insider Hub on their console but new access to system level builds was being cut-off.

However, as the console is finally getting the first testing build that will introduce the initial set of features for the upcoming Creators Update for Windows 10, it looks like Microsoft is once again making it possible for console users to get in on the early build preview action but with a twist that will sound familiar to Windows Insiders.

That initial Creators Update build for the Xbox One console began its roll out yesterday to an invited group of Xbox One Insiders based on performance and participation in the program. That initial update weighed in at just over 1GB and took about 20 minutes to install on my console.

Some of the features this first iteration contains heading towards the Creators Update include:

  • An updated Home.
  • Faster and more intuitive Guide.
  • New way to multitask.
  • Cortana gaming enhancements.
  • Improving system updates.
  • Enabling Xbox One to be accessible for everyone.
  • New spatial audio output settings for developers.
  • Blu-ray player bitstream passthrough beta.

You can view the embedded video at the end of this article from Xbox Live's Major Nelson to get more details on those listed features.

What I really want to bring your attention to though is a shift in the Xbox One Update Preview Program that is going to open up opportunities for users on the Xbox One console to test preview builds. This by far, is one of the biggest requests/questions I get when I write about Xbox One on the SuperSite.

As I mentioned earlier, last month it looked like Microsoft had closed off any opportunity for new users to get into the build preview process when they announced the new Xbox Insider Program.

That seems to have changed with this first Creators Update build preview as it appears the Xbox team is taking another step to align with the overall Windows Insider Program to have a ring based approach to Insiders getting access to early preview builds.

Here are the four rings the Xbox One team will use to enroll Insiders who want to get access to those early preview builds:

Xbox One Update Preview Alpha –  The first Preview ring, this group typically receives 2-3 new system updates per week during a Preview Update wave. Preview Alpha is the cutting edge, and users in this group receive access to new features and fixes as soon as possible at the expense of potential bugs.

Xbox One Update Preview Beta – The second Preview ring, this group typically receives 1-2 new system updates per week during a Preview Update wave. Preview Beta users receive frequent system updates and early access to new features and fixes, with somewhat less risk of encountering bugs.

Xbox One Update Preview Ring 3 – The third Preview ring, this group typically receives 2-3 new system updates per month during a Preview Update wave. Preview Ring 3 users receive infrequent system updates, and is suited for users who want early access to new features and fixes with less risk of encountering bugs.

Xbox One Update Preview Ring 4 – The fourth and final Preview ring, this group typically receives new system updates about once per month. Preview Ring 4 users receive system updates which are almost ready for public release, and thus receive the fewest system updates and are least likely to encounter bugs. In some cases, Preview Ring 4 users may also receive updated versions of the current publicly released build incorporating new fixes.

You can draw an equivalent to the Fast, Slow and Release Preview Rings that are used in the Windows Insider Program for PC and Mobile devices like this:

  • Alpha is the Ludicrous Ring that Windows Insiders have been asking for on PC and Mobile
  • Bravo is the Fast Ring
  • Ring 3 is the Slow Ring
  • Ring 4 is the Release Preview

The first three rings of the new Xbox One Preview Update Program are performance based and will see users who are actively participating in the preview program by completing Quests, Polls, and Ratings in the Insider Hub.

In addition joining in and testing game and app betas, providing feedback, reporting bugs, and regular use of your Xbox One console will contribute to that ring promotion criteria used by the team.

It sounds like any Xbox Insider will be able to enroll in Ring 4 to get started and build up from there.

Best part is no invite is necessary to get started with the preview builds, which was one of the big hurdles in the past. Now it is all about things you control like your participation and use of the console.

Honestly, I wish the Windows Insider Program adopted a similar approach to what level of rings testers can gain access to by ensuring/measuring active participation.

This new program will slowly roll out over the next several weeks so make sure you have the Xbox Insider Hub installed and that you are completing those polls, survey's and quests! You want to be ready when the opportunity to get those early preview builds arrives instead of playing catch up at that point.

But, wait...there's probably more so be sure to follow me on Twitter and Google+.