Windows 7 had 8 million testers, biggest beta ever
Microsoft has revealed a bunch of numbers surrounding the development of Windows 7, and boy do they carry a lot of weight.
In addition to helping us understand how the Windows 7 product development and planning team used feedback to shape the final release of Vista’s successor, Microsoft also followed up to give us some more detailed numbers. The company threw a lot of data points at us, but the one that stuck out like a sore thumb was this number: more than eight million people took part in the Windows 7 beta program. Redmond made a point to say that this number was more than any Microsoft beta ever.
A lot of factors contributed to this number, but much of the credit goes to Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows division as of July 2009, for the changes he implemented to make the beta program the start of hype around the product.
First, he made sure that there would only be one beta (build 7000) and one RC (7100), even though many thought it wouldn’t be enough. Second, he made sure that both were only exclusively available to MSDN and TechNet subscribers, as well as Microsoft Connect testers, for just a few days. After that, the builds went public and anyone could try them out. Third, the beta and RC builds were very stable. They were polished to the point that they felt more like RTM candidates, for the lack of a better term, than unfinished prerelease versions.
All three of these made sure that the beta could be tried by many more tech enthusiasts in the general public. Dedicated testers still played an important role, but what they couldn’t help Microsoft with, due to their lack of strength in numbers, didn’t matter this time around. Public beta testers and Microsoft’s determination to find out more from different types of users made sure of that. The software giant said it used over a billion user sessions to help figure out how to build Windows 7.
Even though the Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 beta program closed in July 2009, Microsoft Connect testers were eventually promised a free copy while the rest of testers were allowed to continue using the product for a few more months. In fact, the Windows 7 RC won’t start bi-hourly shutdowns till March 1, 2010 and won’t expire until June 1, 2010.