Microsoft can’t help themselves when it comes to naming their ‘Insiders’, ‘Preview’ or beta test versions. The names change for no good reason and timing is different for each platform rather than all Office apps changing at the same time.
The latest changes are for MacOS, iOS (iPhone/iPad) and Android devices. They’ve happened months after Insiders name changes with Office for Windows.
Public Release = Current Channel
The public or mainstream version is now called Current Channel
It was called ‘Production’ release.
Current Channel versions are updated once a month and it’s the release most people get.
Insider Slow = Current Channel (Preview)
The ‘almost public’ beta versions are now called Current Channel (Preview) for Mac and Android only (not for iOS).
It was called Insiders (Slow) intended for IT admins wanting to test software before it’s pushed out to users. Also for anyone curious about what’s coming to Office apps but needing more stable software.
Current Channel (Preview) updates twice or maybe three times a month
Insider Fast = Beta Channel
The ‘early adopters’ or first public beta versions are now called Beta Channel
It’s a complete 180° reversal by Microsoft. Years ago they stopped using the ‘Beta’ name for test releases saying ‘beta’ was a technical term not suitable to the more open and public Insiders program. All those executives have presumably left with their stock options and a new batch have a different view.
Beta Channel updates are more frequent. Twice a week with Office for Mac. Once a week on Android or twice a month for Apple devices.
We preferred the ‘Fast’ and ‘Slow’ names because they clearly explained how often the software was updated. Many Microsoft staff also seem to prefer it because they still refer to ‘Fast’ and ‘Slow’ releases despite the edict from on high.
‘Insiders’ was always a crock. There was nothing exclusive or special about joining Office Insiders. All you needed was a Microsoft 365 licence and a pulse. It was in Microsoft’s interest to have more people testing their software, for free. They gave the program a cool sounding name and marketed it to customers.
In case you’re wondering. ‘Alpha’ software versions are ‘in-house’ very early trials. The next testing step is to a select group of other people aka ‘Beta’ testers.
There’s no ‘Gamma’ release, after ‘Beta’ testing comes ‘Release Candidate’ (Current Channel (Preview) for Office)
Finally, Stable or Production release aka Current Channel for Office.