Microsoft is expanding their public testing program for Office Insiders and adding options to accept changes quickly or slowly.
Microsoft ‘Insiders’ programs let the public become testers of upcoming software with the risks that come with using somewhat untested programs.
Strange as it may seem to many, there are people who are prepared to spend their own time and resources to help a multibillion-dollar corporation. A corporation that already has plentiful testing systems and thousands of the cleverest people on the planet.
Windows Insiders get to choose one of two beta testing ‘rings’:
Fast — more frequent updates with changes and new features which may be dropped or altered more before a public release. Fast ring releases haven’t been fully tested and will often have bugs. Not ‘may’ have bugs, Fast ring releases invariably have bugs.
Slow – after some Fast ring releases, there’s a Slow Ring update. Features in Slow releases are mostly ready for the public. These updates happen less often. Slow ring updates have been tested more thoroughly (by the Fast ring testers, Microsoft staff and Microsoft’s formidable automated testing systems).
Soon, Office Insiders will get the same choice of Fast or Slow rings instead of the current single ‘Insiders’ track, which is effectively the Slow ring.
Office 2016 for Mac users already have this choice. It’s coming soon to Office for Windows and other Office incarnations.
Eating your own dog food
Being an ‘Insider’, Fast ring especially, sounds exciting and interesting but it’s also time-consuming, frustrating and annoying.
Microsoft says the Fast ring is the same releases that their own staff get for in-house use. What they don’t say is internal software testing at ‘Fast Ring’ level has a long-standing name at Redmond “Eating your own dog food”.
You get to see new and changed features first before most people. But you have the hassle of software that doesn’t work properly or strange bugs with the chore of figuring out if it’s a fast ring bug, a standard Office bug or something else entirely.
In other words, Insiders are adding more work for themselves with little reward.
Unless you’re a glutton for virtual punishment, stick with standard Office or Office Insider Slow Ring.