Just as with the Windows Insider program for Windows 10, Microsoft calls on adventurous customers to test new builds of the Xbox One operating system. The company launched the Xbox Preview Program in February of 2014, and since then, it has incorporated feature requests and provided means for voting on potential feature additions to improve the Xbox One experience for all owners. Now, more than two years later, Microsoft is overhauling the program.
Microsoft’s head of the Xbox preview program, Emily Hanson, said on Monday that it’s now called the Xbox Insider Program, which falls in line alongside the Windows Insider Program. The name change reflects the program’s expansion beyond offering just previews to system updates with the ability to offer feedback on preview builds of apps, games, and other “experiences.”
With the new program name comes an update to the Xbox Preview Dashboard. According to Hanson, this was rebuilt “from the ground up” to reflect user feedback. The changes start with a new “Xbox Insider Hub” name, a more personalized approach, and a new user interface inspired by the New Xbox One Experience. The update will also provide the ability for multiple users on a single console to provide feedback.
“We’re starting to roll these changes out today to a small number of preview members who have provided the most feedback since the inception of the Xbox Preview Program,” Hanson said. “If you have your Xbox One console in Instant-on mode and you have the Xbox Preview Dashboard app installed, then you don’t have to do anything — the app will update automatically overnight.”
If you haven’t jumped on the Xbox One preview bandwagon, the renamed program provides an additional benefit: an open door for all Xbox One owners. That’s right: Microsoft will provide the Xbox Insider Hub to all Xbox One gamers “soon” for testing new games, apps, and other console “experiences.” What the general base won’t test are new builds of the Xbox One operating system.
As shown in Microsoft’s FAQ here, the Xbox Preview Program was split into two offerings: the Xbox Insider Program and the Xbox One Update Preview. The former provides previews for games, apps, new “experiences,” and system updates. The latter program focuses only on previewing system updates for the console.
Based on that information, current Insiders can test apps, games, experiences, and system updates whereas the upcoming new Insiders can only test apps, games, and experiences when the program launches for the masses. The second program, which appears separately in the Xbox Insider Hub app, seems to focus on gamers who only want to test system builds.
“Xbox Insiders become eligible for previews based on their interests, previous activities in the program, tenure as an Xbox Insider, Xbox Insider XP, and other factors,” the FAQ states. “If you previously participated in the Xbox Preview Program, you can rejoin the Xbox One Update Preview at any time by selecting it from the Insider content list in the Xbox Insider Hub.”
With the introduction of the two programs, Microsoft is providing Xbox One owners several ways they can participate in software testing. When the Xbox Insider Program actually rolls out to all Xbox One owners is unknown for now, but hopefully it will be long before Microsoft serves up the Creators Update for Windows 10 in spring 2017.