Although Microsoft usually trumpets its Insider programs as a way for customers to provide feedback during development, the Redmond, Wash. company also has strategic reasons of its own.
Microsoft has made no secret that the Windows 10 Insider preview serves as a critical test bed -- the firm has shifted significant amounts of its testing to customers, arguing that that makes for faster, higher-quality releases -- so that major problems are uncovered and fixed before they reach large numbers of devices. In a similar fashion, Microsoft uses Current Branch users of both Windows 10 and Office 365 as additional guinea pigs in the hope that more bugs are caught and quashed before the upgrades reach the most important enterprise customers on the Current Branch for Business.
Office Insider may serve a similar purpose, although the shorter lag time between offering a new feature to previewers and the slated monthly rollout to consumers and Current Branch users means that such testing will be last minute, and perhaps less comprehensive.
Office Insider will also be available to Android device owners through a community on Google+, while Windows 10 Mobile users may register as a Windows Insider to receive preview builds of that OS's Office apps. Microsoft did not list iOS -- it offers Office apps for the iPhone and iPad -- among the options.
More information about the Office Insider program can be found on Microsoft's website.
To participate in Office Insider, consumers and students who subscribe to Office 365 must download the preview edition of Office 2016 for Windows, and install it in lieu of the production code. Click on image to enlarge.
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