Why 1 Million Testers Will Make Windows 10 Awesome

Yesterday, with coverage spanning the Windows centric Interwebs, Joe Belfiore posted on the Blogging Windows site that the Windows 10 Technical Preview had reached 1 million participants.  That is a significant number, especially given we are only two weeks since the announcement of the preview being available.  But it is also important symbolically as Microsoft, seemingly for the first time, is properly asking for feedback on their flagship product.  And even more importantly, they are actually listening to that feedback.

Ultimately that means we all win.

If it is indeed the case that Microsoft is listening to user feedback and shaping Windows 10 around that demand, there is no reason to think that this release will put the company squarely back on the map with consumers and, perhaps more importantly, their enterprise customers.  It is a new and different Microsoft these days and this is another clear indicator of it.

Ultimately this reaction and public outreach with Windows 10 from Microsoft is in the wake of arguably one of their least successful releases, Windows 8. Personally, I love Windows 8.  I like the Start screen and Metro-style apps.  I know, I’m one of maybe 3 people that does but hey, it works for me.  And performance wise, Windows 8 is rock solid.  I’ve been using it for months now and have yet to have a BSOD (running it on a MacBook Pro that I’ve bootcamped in the effort of full disclosure).  But for many, Windows 8 was such a radial departure that it was lost.  When you’ve had nearly a decade with a Start button and you suddenly move it without telling anyone, peeps get a little upset.

And that fundamentally has been the problem with Windows 8.  It wasn’t that the idea was bad or that performance suffered.  It was that Microsoft took a radical departure and didn’t really ask anyone if it is okay.  Now you can say that it is their product and they don’t’ necessarily have to ask anyone what to do with it.

Really?  You sure about that?  Because last time I checked, Microsoft still dominates the Enterprise desktop and if sales suffer there – which they have spectacularly with Windows 8 – the company suffers.

In his post, Joe Belfiore writes,

We’re going to share our plans and progress with you earlier and more often as we want to build a Windows that everyone will love and really enjoy using.

That’s a big step for Microsoft and one that certainly has risks.  But it is the right choice, the best choice for them.  Ultimately they are in a battle to retain the desktop against the likes of Apple and Google.  They have to product a Windows that everyone loves.  Having this essentially wide open preview of Windows 10 will go a long way in that effort.  Sure there will be bumps in the road (it is beta after all) and no, not everyone is going to swoon when they see Windows 10 next year.  But it is a far cry from the “you will enjoy the Start screen” mentality of Windows 8.

I’m excited to watch the development of Windows 10 over the course of the next few months.  You should be too.  This will be a different Windows from a different Microsoft because of this different approach.  At the end of the day, we all will win.