Microsoft's "early access" approach to Windows 9

(Image Credit: Nils Geylen)

We don't even have its name yet, but we do have some idea of what to expect from the successor of the often-criticised Windows 8. Microsoft's new CEO, Satya Nadella, was quoted as saying the company needs to be "obsessive over customers" which is an ethos that appears to have hit its mark going by the rapid changes we are witnessing.

Had these users been able to help shape the OS before it launched; it wouldn't have had such a bad reputation.

Windows' latest iteration will bring back the iconic "Start Menu" and remove the "Charms" functionality to move its functions (such as share and search) into the application itself. Most of the changes are to make it easier for Microsoft's core desktop users.

But the most interesting part of Windows next version might not be the OS itself, but rather the approach to development the team at Microsoft is taking...

"Early access" is a term more used in game development circles; with gamers getting access to the title at a barebones stage with the understanding there is a lot which will be broken. This early-stage means the gamers can give the developers feedback which will help shape the final version before it ships to everyone else.

In the case of Windows 8, a lot of users complained the product felt unfinished and was a nightmare to use on a traditional desktop PC (and therefore prevented enterprise uptake.) Had these users been able to help shape the OS before it launched; it wouldn't have had such a bad reputation.

Microsoft worked fast to fix most problems with Windows 8 in subsequent updates; but most users have remained on their previous versions. This upcoming release could be a last-chance at convincing these customers of its benefits; so Microsoft knows it needs to get it right.

Launching alongside the technical preview later today is a new feedback system called 'Asimov' which provides a near real-time look at how users are using the OS. This should ensure usability issues which are encountered can be "ironed out" before the final version reaches customers' computers.

Should we give users "early access" to help us shape the final result? Let us know in the comments.

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30 Sep 2014, 5:11 p.m.