Thoughts about the current state of the Insider Program

by Michael Young9 months ago

Microsoft has changed. A lot. Under Satya Nadella, the company has become slimmer, more customer oriented shed many of the old monolithic ways.

The Insider Program was born in an attempt to do everything right after the Windows 8 debacle.

Unfortunately, the Insider Program has some frustrating problems in its current form.

 

The number one Problem is Bad Feedback.

We have to face reality: Too many cooks spoil the broth. Any time a new build is released, the entire Trending section of the Insider Hub is filled with duplicates of the same bug.

Take a look:

This is not only annoying; it actually hurts the people who submit important Feedback. While Microsoft could potentially see it (although it doesn’t look that way), the majority of Insiders doesn’t. It doesn’t have many likes and probably will never have, thus slipping both under Microsoft’s and the Insiders radar.

But this doesn’t have to be this way.

Here are some suggestions on how I would improve the Insider Program:

  • Introduce Community Moderators

    You don’t have to do everything by yourself. Let selected Insiders help you in moderating the avalanche of Feedback. They can delete duplicates, help with questions and Promote Important Feedback, regardless of Likes. If you have about 100 People moderating, you can concentrate on fixing the bugs and Feature requests that they relay. This would also Engourage the Insiders as they can see that someone Official is responding to them.

 

  • Allow Users to interact more with each other

    Make the Insider Program more like a Forum, where Users can exchange Ideas and distill the different expectations and demands into something your Engineers can work with. There are skilled people out there who can create mock-ups and prototype designs. Use them! After all, they are the ones who are going to be using your software.

 

  • Give Insiders the option to test builds on their main device.

    Of course, bugs happen during Software development, especially in a project as big as Windows, but if you want to get real world telemetry and feedback, users have to use your software in real world. To make that feasible, you should give Insiders a “ring” they can use on their main devices. So, either promote the Slow ring to a “General Use” Ring, or create a special Ring that every Insider can install on their main machine.

    At the very least you can create a Release Candidate Ring for all Insiders to test the build you are planing to release to the general public for a couple of weeks on their Main Machine. Think about it. This way, you would have caught the Skype webcam bug for sure.

 

  • Educate Insiders in what you want them to do.

    This might seem trivial, but as you can see, many insiders don’t read all the small print. They post stuff like this:
    Bad Feedback3  Miracast_Feedback,jpg

    You have a gigantic userbase with the Insider Program, but only few have experience in this area. Tell them about known Issues with a banner in the Feedback section. You can also actively deter people from posting duplicates by implementing blacklists.

 

  • Tell us what areas we should test

    You already have quests. Tell us about the changes you’ve made under the hood so we know what to test specifically.

 

Overall, the Insider Program is a huge step in the right direction. However, if Microsoft manages to fix some of the remaining problems, they would greatly increase the usefulness of this tool for them and for us.