Back in 2014, Microsoft started two different beta testing programs that have evolved into very valuable crowdsourcing projects over the years. The first one was the Xbox Preview Program, which was launched in February 2014 and is still invite-only. The other one is the Windows insider program, which started on October 1, 2014 along the release of the first ever Windows 10 Insider build.
Earlier this year, Microsoft announced at Build 2016 that both programs would eventually merge over the summer though head of the Windows insider program Dona Sarkar later backtracked on this promise, sharing that the company needed to "figure out what it means" for the future of both programs.
Well, nearly four months after Sarkar’s comment on the matter, Xbox’s Major Nelson has announced on his blog today that the Xbox One Preview program is becoming the Xbox Insider Program. "This new name reflects how we are expanding to offer opt-in opportunities to provide feedback on Game and App Previews alongside System Update previews," he explained. Additionally, the exec announced that the Xbox insider Program will soon be open to all Xbox One users, bringing some consistency with the Windows Insider program.
Moreover, the Xbox Preview Dashboard on the Xbox One will become the Xbox Insider Hub and provide more opt-in options to test preview builds, selected games and apps. Here are the most important new features:
- Personalized to give you more relevant announcements, quests, and Insider content opportunities to get early access to select games and apps
- A new UI, inspired by the New Xbox One Experience, makes it easier to find the right info and provide more robust feedback
- The Xbox Insider profile card where your contributions in the program come front and center
- Support for multiple users on a console to participate and provide feedback
The new Xbox Insider Hub will start rolling out today to select users and become available to all Xbox Preview members over the next few weeks. Lastly, Major Nelson explained that "Xbox system updates will currently be limited to those already testing them (not open to new members), as we still have a huge number of volunteers already doing a great job testing and providing feedback."
Overall, the announcement is great news for Xbox enthusiasts as the company will finally open up the program to everyone while giving more granularity controls to users. While some details are still unknown, we hope that the new program will remain consumer-friendly to attract a healthy number of Xbox One users. Sound off in the comments if you're excited to be a part of the Xbox Insider program.