Windows Insider Program: The glorious beta program

I was always going to join Microsoft’s Windows Insider Program when it was announced in September 2014. My want (maybe need) to try the latest and greatest from Microsoft had driven me try out the Windows Vista, 7 and 8 betas as soon as they were available and I wasn’t prepared to change that for Windows 10.

I have to admit I saw the initiative as a glorified beta program, perhaps different from the previous beta processes but ultimately a new name for the same process. But I was wrong, oh I was so wrong, it’s not a glorified beta program it’s a glorious beta program.

At the Surface Studio launch event Microsoft started by showing an accessibility video where it showed how it make products for “each of us”, not “all of us”. A subtle difference indeed, but a significant one. That mantra can be seen across Microsoft but perhaps most within the Windows Insider Program, the company wants to know what each one of us thinks about Windows. It’s not done in a superficial way as in some previous Microsoft beta schemes, the feedback provided is acted upon and actively sort too.

We as Insiders care about the product we use and Microsoft’s engineers care just as much. There is a keenness, a passion, from both sides to improve the technology we rely upon, whether that be through raising issues or suggesting new features. Insiders seem to be very good at explaining concerns and the engineers seem just as good at using the Insiders to guide development. As Dona Sarkar, head of the Windows Insider Program, would say, this is “co-creation”.

At the MVP Summit at Microsoft’s Redmond campus in Seattle a couple of weeks ago this was very apparent to me. Whether it was listening to Microsoft employee’s passion for feedback, talking with fellow Windows Insider MVPs or seeing the conversations online about Windows there was a real sense of community. It’s a community created around building a better something; a better experience, a better feature, a better Windows.

But the Windows Insider Program no longer stops with Windows, it wants to build a better world.

You might scoff at “a better world” but the Windows Insider Program is not just about improving Windows for the next build, it’s about improving so much more. Dona has been leading on a number of initiatives under the #WINsiders4Good brand that look to leverage the knowledge and expertise of Insiders to create solutions for complex problems.

There are over 7 million Windows Insiders, all passionate about technology, improvements and change. That’s quite a network of people, depth and knowledge and years of experience that can be leveraged to create positive change. For example in Cologne Insiders gathered to see how gaming could be used to address big problems, such as “to raise the awareness about hand hygiene to prevent spreading infections”. Whilst in London Insiders looked at the issues of affordable housing around the world.

To join in with the Insider community I looking to see what I can do to the help and its why on December 15th I have organised a Windows Insider meet up in London so UK Insiders can start putting faces to names. Also, drinks ;). So, if you’re in a London and free on December 15th come and join other Insiders.

Sure, there’s more that can be done with the program itself too; I really want to know what is happening with the feedback I have given. I want to know if it has been noted, if they are planning to address and when I might see in Windows.

I became a Windows Insider to see how Windows was being improved, now I get to be part of a community that is looking to improve the world.