Beta test is perhaps the second biggest consumer beta in history

When Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) was developing Windows 7 -- the fastest-selling operating system in its long and notable history -- it decided to do something radical: put test builds of the upcoming OS in the hands of consumers.  The beta was a tremendous success, and helped Microsoft identify and fix over 2,000 bugs or flaws in the upcoming product.  That helped to transform a product that was reportedly a bloated beast in early builds, into a market winner.  Ultimately Windows 7 attracted over 8 million consumers to beta test it -- a record-shattering effort.

Windows 10 -- the successor to Windows 8.1 -- is following a similar route and is attracting a large crowd of its own.  Microsoft announced this week that 2 million consumers are now testing its latest and greatest Windows 10 build 9926.  That's good enough to make it perhaps the second largest public beta test in history.

Interesting in the upcoming Microsoft OS, which will be offered as a free upgrade for Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 customers, is clearly picking up as well.  At the end of October, a month after the launch of the first public Preview build, Microsoft announced that 1 million consumers were testing the pending product.  In the two-and-a-half months since, Microsoft tacked on an additional 700,000 testers, and delivered two more Preview builds.

Windows 10 press event
Since its Jan. 21 Windows 10 test even Microsoft has attracted 300,000 new public testers.

At its Jan. 21 press event, it announced that it had 1.7 million consumers testing Windows 10 currently.  During its Jan. 26 earnings call, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced that "more than 2 million" testers were now onboard.

That's big news as it means that Microsoft has been adding more than 50,000 testers a day since the press event.  Of course it did just hold a widely publicized press preview and it did just release a new test build, some so some of this pickup is likely temporary.  But it's indicative of the strong consumer interest in Windows 10.  If Microsoft continues to execute so well, it should be able to come close to the testing userbase of Windows 7, if not match it.

Perfecting Windows 10 is of utmost importance to the company, as the OS will eventually drive all its products, including the Xbox and smartphones.  It's also crucial given that Microsoft's latest earnings report revealed slumping enterprise license sales.  Microsoft is counting on Windows 10 to revive enterprise interest and it's relying on broad consumer testing to continue to morph Windows 10 into a winner.

Source: Microsoft [docx]

"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA

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