Apple has created a brand that rules people’s hearts. It can be argued that Apple’s human-centered approach to design is the key factor for it’s success. Whereas Apple’s rival, Microsoft, has a bad reputation when it comes to usability. In the past few years, however, we have been seeing a change in Microsoft’s attitude.
Microsoft has a team that conducts user research, but they are also trying to engage everybody who uses their products. Some of the tools Microsoft uses to gather user feedback are:
- Windows Insider Program
- Easy Feedback System for Softwares like Microsoft Office
- Open source projects like VSCode where design and development is driven by real time user feedback
- Anybody can signup for User Research
- Feedback Hub
For now, I will be focusing on the Windows Insider Program: how it works, and whether it is helping the user in any way? What is Feedback Hub?
Windows Insider Program
It is a testing program that allows users to sign up for pre-release builds of the Windows operating system. Traditionally, these builds were only accessible to developers. It was announced on September 30, 2014, and by September 2015, over 7 million people took part in the Windows Insider Program. Currently, developers can explore Windows 10 SDK insider preview builds.
You can register and install the application,the important thing here is how they are engaging users for feedback. They have launched an application called “Feedback Hub”
On the application, when you start typing your feedback, it shows you a list of relevant, existing feedback posts created by other users so you don’t create a duplicate post. If there is no existing post that matches your thought, you can create a new one. Feedback can either be a problem or a suggestion. You can assign a category to the problem so that the right team can see it. You can upvote an existing issue or suggestion. These upvotes are important as they show how many users are affected by a problem, or how many like a new suggestion.
Some other things that insider program offers are
- Features- Preview build highlights
- Community- Insider Corner
- Inspired by insiders
- Insider stories
Insider program for business
They are trying to get feedback from businesses so that they can cater specific business needs.
Insider program for Developers
Developers can provide feedback on preview SDKs. They can also submit feature requests as well.
In my opinion, Microsoft is really trying to engage their users at different levels. It can be argued that giving feedback from applications like Feedback Hub is some effort for users, but it’s a good way to listen to them. Not every feature requested by users is going to be implemented, but this kind of open feedback can determine what users want, and really determine where the product should be headed for in the future.