Microsoft looks to shake up Windows Insider Program with ‘Cohorts’ feature for higher quality feedback

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According to a report from Windows Central, Microsoft is looking to shake up the Windows Insider program by introducing a new “Cohorts” component. Though still in the experimental phase, the component is all about netting higher quality feedback and placing Windows Insiders into “highly-focused” groups.

Per an interview with Windows Insider Program chief Dona Sarkar, Microsoft apparently came up with the “Cohorts” idea as part of their broader review of the Windows Insider Program. The company found that feedback gets divided into two forms which aren’t always valuable. There was also the problem with generally useful feedback and features not always getting picked up in the Windows Insider community. Sarkar explained this by providing Windows Ink Feedback as an example:

“People who make massive use of pen and ink on Windows 10, they’re the people we need feedback from in that scenario…So instead of just general feedback, what if we focused on getting feedback from creatives that really push the envelope with pen and ink? They’re the ones who are going to be using it every day, right?”

The “Cohorts” component is apparently not going to replace telemetry and Feedback Hub, but will instead go hand-in-hand with the system already in place. The current system was even used to identify users for a closed preview of the “Cohorts” component. “Microsoft has used telemetry to identify specific Insider power users that it has invited to into a closed preview of Cohorts,” writes Windows Central.

There’s already invite-only “Cohorts” in place for Fluent Design, and a Creators Cohort for those who use Windows 10 creatively. Each group has less than 100 users, and they have their own private forums to share and discuss feedback. Those in the Windows Insider for Business program can also join without an invitation.

“Cohorts” will apparently expand over time, coming to all Insiders, with focus on other areas of Windows 10. For now, though, the report shows that Cohorts have three parts:

  • Someone at Microsoft who “controls code” (i.e. who decides what gets fixed and added to a product or service).
  • A person in the Insider Community who “influences” or “champions” a certain feature (e.g. pen support) or set of features (e.g. accessibility tools).
  • All the people from whom the feedback is gathered.

Please keep in mind this is only in an experimental phase, part of Microsoft’s future plans for the Windows Insider Program. A separate report from Windows Central further elaborates, saying the company is looking to evolve the program and introduce new changes over the next two years as part of their “WIP 2020” initiative.