17 minutes ago, evildictaitor wrote
For example, suggesting that Microsoft disbanded beta testing after they not only patently did lots of usability testing with real users, but in fact, Developer Preview and Consumer Preview had the biggest userbase of any beta ever before in history for any technology product ever.
They disbanded the technical beta program, something which I've been a member of since Windows 2000 beta 3.
The Windows beta program used to be awesome. You got very frequent builds, there was an open an frank dialogue with the developers on the newsgroups, you got real responses to your bug reports, and you ended up with the feeling that not only did you find some bugs, you helped shape the final product. Some tiny insignificant part of XP and Vista is because of my contribution during those beta programs.
Then there was the Windows 7 beta program. We only got the public builds, no additional ones. The first build we got was already at a more advanced stage of development than the first RC was for XP or Vista. And you got the feeling your input wasn't wanted anymore. They wanted bug reports, not suggestions. I remember many people on the beta newsgroups for Windows 7 complaining about how there was no two-way conversation anymore, we were just bug finders.
The Windows 7 SP1 beta, there was no involvement from MS on the newsgroups beyond the original announcement that the first build was available. Nothing. The newsgroups were closed entirely halfway through the beta.
Windows 8 had no beta program. There were public previews, sure, but do you really have the impression they listened to any of the feedback? I'm sure they took real bug reports to heart, but as far as the usability feedback was concerned they just sailed their own pre-planned course regardless as far as I could tell.
I like Windows 8. It has some bad points, but overall it's a very nice OS to use on a daily basis once you get used to it. But I have absolutely no illusions about how much they responded to user feedback other than their own internal testing.
This more closed nature was a direct result of Sinofsky's influence, who used to run Office that way as well. Hopefully with him out of the picture they'll be more open again in the future.