If you watched our recent interview with Microsoft's Dona Sarkar, chief of the Windows Insider Program, you'll have heard her comments regarding the engagement of businesses as part of the program. Indeed, in a session on Windows 10 deployment for businesses at Microsoft's NexTech Africa conference, the company recommended that SMEs and enterprise customers should run Windows 10 Insider Preview builds on 1% of their systems in order to prepare for what's coming next in the OS.
Dona also hinted at an important announcement regarding how Microsoft intends to engage businesses, to encourage their participation in the Insider Program. Today, at the company's Ignite Australia conference, Microsoft's Bill Karagounis announced the new Windows Insider Program for Business (also known as 'WIP4Biz').
Bill said that a major goal of WIP4Biz is to "make Insider systems and capabilities more friendly and easier to fit into your business environments". He said that Microsoft wants there to be a deeper, and ongoing, focus for Windows 10 development "on things that are critical in corporate and business environments", to understand those customers' needs and improve its overall development process.
He also outlined the key goals of WIP4Biz:
Bring Commercial Insiders into the community
- Build a community of like-minded individuals to share information
- Create experiences to build excitement and engagement with WIP
- Advocate for the needs of the community with product changes including software updates and the supporting communication
Get feedback on commercial features/functionalities
- Provide a scalable feedback mechanism for Insiders at all levels
- Listen to businesses' and Insiders' needs and requirements
- Test our new commercial features, migrate business workflows to pre-release software where appropriate and provide feedback
Support Windows Commercial deployment
- Deliver information about new features in Windows and the benefits to the Insider's organization while supporting end user adoption
- Offer a channel to have a real-time dialogue with WIP and Microsoft
- Share success stories, provide role models and connections
Organizations will be able to 'upvote' reported issues that are also important to other companies, or other parts of their own business, to ensure that the most important issues are fixed quickly and completely.
Bill said one of the most important questions he wants answered is: "What content do you as Windows Insiders for business want to see from us?" He was also asked if Microsoft planned to add the ability to distribute Insider builds internally within organizations; his response was "watch this space".
WIP4Biz will be a broad-ranging extension to the existing Windows Insider Program, and will include engagement through dedicated forums, blogs and events; regular surveys with IT professionals; and extensive documentation to support those organizations deploying Insider builds.
Following today's announcement, the Windows Insider Program for Business will be gradually introduced "in the coming months". Microsoft says that business Insiders "may need to take additional action to access new features when they are made available." Those who are interested in registering their organizations for WIP4Biz can register now, by filling in a short survey on Microsoft's website.