Since their introduction, the Windows and Office Insider programs have let people try out “the next release” of Windows and Office, providing an opportunity for users to give feedback and for Microsoft to find bugs. These ongoing schemes have replaced the traditional model of shipping occasional betas and release candidates in the run up to a major release, instead allowing those who are suitably inclined to permanently stay one step ahead of the mainstream.
Yesterday, Microsoft added the Xbox to its set of Insider programs. The Xbox already had a preview program of sorts, but it was hard to get into, requiring an invitation or referral from someone already enrolled. The new Xbox Insider Program will be open to all in the same way the Windows and Office programs are open. The Xbox Insider Program also has a wider scope than the old preview; where the old program focused solely on operating system updates, the new one will also include betas for apps and games.
Xbox Insiders will be able to pick and choose which betas they receive, with a slight wrinkle: if you want operating system previews, you’ll have to be a member of the old preview program. Microsoft isn’t yet opening the floodgate there, for reasons that aren’t even remotely obvious.
Today, Paul Thurrott has spotted that Skype, too, now has a preview program. This appears to be a little more restrictive than the others, as you have to sign up specifically, rather than just flipping a switch in the operating system. The Skype program will give access to early builds of the Skype software and new features of the Skype service, along with providing avenues for feedback and bug reports.
In a move that leaves one scratching one’s head in bewilderment, the Skype team has got the name of the program wrong. Whereas Windows, Office, and Xbox all have an “Insider Preview,” the Skype group has thrown that convention to the wind and instead is running an “Insiders Program.”