February 20, 2018 // 11:14 a.m.
Microsoft has confirmed it is extending its Windows Insider beta programme with the addition of more focused 'Cohorts', groups led by an 'influencer' or 'champion' from the Insider community.
Announced back in 2014, the Windows Insider programme allows users to opt in to receive pre-release operating system updates and provide feedback which can, in theory at least, influence the final release of specific features or changes. While initially focused on the company's consumer products, mid-2017 saw the Windows Insider programme expand to cover Windows Server too, and Insiders are the first outside of Microsoft itself to try new features like Timeline functionality.
The Windows Insider programme itself, though, is going through changes with the addition of what Microsoft is calling the 'Cohort' system. Revealed in an interview with Windows Insider, the Cohort system will see developers able to narrow their focus to particular groups of users - those who use particular types or even specific hardware or software packages, for instance - in order to gather more specific feedback.
According to Microsoft's Dona Sarkar, each Cohort will be split into three segments: a developer at Microsoft who can make decisions about any changes or additional functionality required as a result of feedback received, a 'champion' or 'influencer' from the Windows Insider community, and the huddled masses who have joined to provide their feedback. The focus, Sarkar explains, will be less on things-to-be-fixed and more on things-to-be-built, a subset of feedback currently badly supported in the programme.
The first Cohorts are up and running now, primarily invitation-only for a very small group of users, with Sarkar describing the initiative as experimental with a view to rolling all Windows Insiders into one or more Cohorts if the experiment is a success.