Launched on September 30th of 2014, the Windows Insider Program has since become an unprecedented success for Microsoft. Indeed, the company was initially aiming to get 400 thousand enthusiasts on board to test early Windows 10 builds, but the company revealed last year at Build 2016 that it really underestimated the appeal of the crowdsourcing program.
So far, we knew that the program reached 1 million members a couple of weeks after the release of the first Windows 10 preview build on October 1, 2014. From there, the number grew to 3 million Insiders by March of 2015, then to 7 million a year ago. It was about time for an update, which Microsoft exec Yusuf Mehdi recently provided in a blog post on LinkedIn:
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.
With "only" three million new Windows Insiders over the past 12 months, the growth rate has obviously slowed down but that was to be expected: the program is pretty easy to join from a Windows 10 PC or phone, but it remains for knowledgeable enthusiasts who are willing to deal with a lot of bugs along the journey. As a reminder, Microsoft shared six months ago that Windows 10 was now running on 400 million devices, which means that Windows Insiders represent roughly 2.5% of the global user base.
Can we expect the Windows Insider program to grow bigger in the future? Absolutely, if we look at recent announcements from the Windows Insider team: first of all, the company launched the Windows Insider Program for Business last month, which will help Microsoft to better understand IT Pro needs. Let's also not forget about #Insiders4Good, the growing community of Windows Insiders willing to solve problems creatively through the use of Microsoft products. Lastly, Head of the Windows Insider Program Dona Sarkar teased earlier this month that she had other big plans for the program this year, including more transparency and tech job trainings:
More beam casts, builds, behind the scenes vids/blogs, website/forums/user groups, more transparency, tech job training coming this year! https://t.co/oJjyUV5NdI
— Dona Sarkar (@donasarkar) March 7, 2017
Overall, it seems that the Windows Insider Program had a profound impact on how Microsoft operates as a company. Microsoft has become much better at listening to its customers, and the program has already gave birth to similar initiatives such as the Office Insider Program, the Xbox Insider Program and the Skype Insider Program. All of these prove that crowdsourcing is not reserved to small startups, it can also work for technology giants like Microsoft, with great results.