When Microsoft released Windows 8, they pushed forward with a touch-friendly user interface that didn’t resonate with their billions of desktop users from around the world. As a result, many consumers held off from upgrading, clinging to their copies of XP and 7 for dear life. Windows 8 was the result of a stubborn Microsoft—a company who, in a desperate attempt to compete in the mobile marketspace, willfully alienated almost its entire customer base.
Fast forward to Windows 10. Led by a new CEO, Microsoft has seen a radical shift in the development process for Windows. In fact, Windows 10 has been downloadable as a “preview” since last September—part of Microsoft’s new “Windows Insider” program, where everyday users are granted a not-so-exclusive look behind the curtain, testing the software and offering feedback which the Windows development team uses to build each new iteration of the product.
During the “dark ages” of Windows 8, users cried out for the return of the start menu. They pleaded for the demise of unintuitive full screen apps. With Windows 10, thanks to the Insider Program, most of the concerns that were raised with Windows 8 have been addressed. It doesn’t appear Microsoft or the Windows team will discontinue their customer-centric approach anytime in the near future.
Microsoft’s “Windows Insider” initiative speaks to a grander overall shift in consumer thinking. In an age of endless social conversations, one where political leaders, celebrities, and Fortune 500 companies are always within reach, customers are taking more ownership of that which they follow—they expect a level of involvement that is unprecedented. Faced with a community of devoted and passionate fans, Microsoft seized the opportunity to make their paying customers part of their development process—and on July 29th, when Windows 10 is officially released, the Redmond-based giant could legitimately find themselves back in the forefront of technology among consumers.
Are you listening to your customers?