With its Windows Insider Program, Microsoft has recruited several million Windows enthusiasts to provide beta testing of—and feedback about—Windows 10 as it is developed. But Redmond wants to expand the reach of this program to gain greater insight into corporate users, and to do that, it has unveiled the Windows Insider Program for Business (awfully abbreviated to WIP4Biz).
The new scheme was launched at the company’s Ignite Australia conference, reports Neowin. Corporate users have different usage patterns from the current Insiders; corporate machines are more likely to be domain joined, more likely to be remotely managed, and more likely to use Group Policies and other features. Some Windows features, such as Hyper-V-based sandboxing, are only available to corporate users, as they require Windows 10 Enterprise.
With most current Insiders being home users and hobbyists, these features are unlikely to be thoroughly tested in the Insider program, and Microsoft receives relatively little feedback for how well they work or how they could be improved.
There are some signs that these enterprise-only features are receiving inadequate testing right now. A patch for stable builds of Windows 10 that shipped in December last year broke virtualization-based security; a hotfix was shipped a week later to remedy the problem. In theory, this problem could have been noticed by Insiders on the Release Preview ring, but it appears not to have been. Similarly, a patch delivered in August broke some PowerShell functionality. Home users would never notice, but corporate users almost certainly would.
Technically, nothing prevents IT departments from using Insider Previews today; Microsoft has encouraged IT departments to test Insider Preview builds and roll them out to internal groups of early adopters. However, doing so comes at some cost. Preview builds are unsupported, and opting to receive a preview build requires the use of a Microsoft account, which many corporations may not want. Tooling for managing pre-release builds is also limited.
WIP4Biz will help the company fill that gap, with Microsoft providing new tools and more support for IT departments wanting to use Insider Previews. This should provide a more complete set of feedback and usage data that Microsoft can use to guide Windows 10’s development.
Corporations interested in the new program can register their interest here. Though announced today, the additional tooling and community support will arrive in the coming months.