Microsoft launched the Windows Insider Program back in September (30) 2014. The project was set up with humble goals, but has since grown into a behemoth. Indeed, Microsoft has confirmed today that the program now has over 10 million members. That is excellent news for Microsoft, and really it is hard to dislike the Windows Insider Program.
If you are unfamiliar with the Insider Program, its core ambitions are clear. It was set up for Microsoft to leverage Windows users to make the platform better. It is a crowdsourcing initiative that relies on a pact between the company and users.
Windows 10 users get to see early builds and features through various stages of development. These are typically in raw form and not fully functional for a full release. In return for this early access, Microsoft gets feedback from Insiders to learn how to improve those builds and features.
There is a trade-off that many of these builds can be unstable. It is clearly a compromise many millions have been willing to make. Needless to say, the optimum environment to run an Insider build is on a spare PC or a test machine.
Either way, Microsoft started the program with a modest goal of attracting 400,000 Insiders. Since then, the company has kept us posted on Windows Insider Program growth. The first release of Windows 10 in testing pushed the program passed one million. This happened just weeks after it was launched, smashing Microsoft's goal out of the gates.
By March 2015, the company said the program reached 3 million Insiders, and that jumped to 7 million a year ago. In his LinkedIn blog post today, Microsoft's Yusuf Mehdi made a new announcement:
“We have had one of these unbelievable experiences with our Windows 10 Insider program. We count over 10M Windows Insiders today, many of them fans, who test and use the latest build of Windows 10 on a daily basis. Their feedback comes fast and furious, they have a relentless bar of what they expect, but it so inspires our team and drives our very focus on a daily basis.”
Windows Insider Program
Adoption of new Insiders is slowing, which is to be expected as the program matures. However, three million new additions in the last 12 months is not to be sniffed at.
Microsoft still has big plans for the Insider Program too. Dona Sarkar, head of the program, has said she wants to improve transparency and bring tech training jobs to Insiders this year.
Of course, the Windows Insider Program was also something of a trailblazer within Microsoft. Since its success, the company has launched an Office Insider Program, Xbox Insider Program, and a Skype Insider Program.
Shortly after taking the helm of the program last year, Sarkar said how important the process is to Windows 10 development:
“By releasing new builds of Windows to Insiders to try out so quickly, the engineers and designers on our team can get real customer feedback on new features and changes in an incredibly short amount of time and respond to that feedback pretty quickly.”