Here's how user feedback is shaping Windows 10

Microsoft has revealed how it uses the Windows Insider Program to change how Windows 10 is built

The Windows Feedback team

The Windows Feedback team

Microsoft gave users a new glimpse at how their feedback is being used to shape Windows 10 as the company closes in on its first consumer release of the new operating system.

Samer Sawaya, a senior program manager lead for Windows Feedback, said in a blog post Friday that feedback collected from users is "a key part of design decisions" for Windows 10. The beta builds of Windows 10 available to early adopters through the free Windows Insider Program include a number of features to gather information from users about their experience, including a Windows Feedback app that lets people submit issues and feature requests directly to Microsoft.

That feedback is then used to tailor Windows 10 so Microsoft can make it more appealing for its final consumer release.

Since the first technical preview of Windows 10 dropped in October, Microsoft received a total of 3 million pieces of user-submitted feedback through the Windows Feedback app on Windows 10 (including suggestions and up-votes) along with 2.5 million responses to miniature surveys that pop up during the use of the OS. All the engineering teams working on Windows can access a database filled with that feedback and run queries against it to see what users are saying about Microsoft's operating system.

In addition, different teams get regular emails that put a spotlight on unaddressed feedback issues for their products. That way, engineers can stay up to date on what users are saying about the product and can make decisions about what projects to tackle based on users' interests.

Those capabilities have translated into actual changes. Case in point: The team working on the feature that allows Modern apps to run in a window on the desktop tweaked the location of the button that makes one of those apps take up a full screen based on feedback collected from users.

When Microsoft first announced Windows 10 last year, Operating Systems Group chief Terry Myerson said it would be the company's "most open, collaborative OS project ever." Gathering feedback and buy-in from the Windows faithful has been an important objective for Microsoft, which is trying to get 1 billion devices onto Windows 10 by the end of its 2018 fiscal year.

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