Since soon after its launch, Microsoft has steadily improved the software experience on the Xbox One. The process began in 2014 with support for external hard drives. By 2015, Microsoft had added new ways to share clips and enhanced the console’s social aspects. It was in 2016 that the company added the Xbox One to the Windows 10 family, making it possible for developers of all backgrounds to create their own apps that work on Xbox and Windows. The company is planning another large-scale update for 2017, and the Xbox Insider Program is how players will get to test that update.
You probably haven’t heard of the Xbox Insider Program, but you might have heard of its predecessor, the Xbox Preview Program. The Xbox Preview Program is what allowed users to get their hands on the Xbox Backwards Compatibility Program soon after it was announced at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in 2015. That program served the company well, but Microsoft rolled it into the Xbox Preview Program in late 2016.
Here’s everything you need to know about getting early Xbox One updates through the new Xbox Insider Program.
Joining Xbox Insider Program
Microsoft formally announced the Xbox Insider Program last year, naming it the official way that games get early Xbox One updates. In many ways, the program is like the Preview Program.
To join, users need only download Microsoft’s Xbox Insider Hub from the Xbox One’s Store. Microsoft receives the request, then evaluates you for entry. The program can switch from open to closed sometimes, Microsoft says.
The company requires that you agree to some basic Terms of Service when you sign up. It also reminds you of the risk involved in installing early software. Xbox Insider Program updates can and will break features on your console. Rather than fully develop an update and release it to testers, Microsoft works on feature additions for almost every new build that it releases. Features can be in the hands of testers, but not be finished. Sometimes changes behind the scenes produce bugs the development team hasn’t come across in their own testing.
When joining the Xbox Insider Program, keep in mind that there can and will be bugs. These bugs can affect everything from multiplayer games to other must-have features.
Microsoft usually announces new downloads for the Xbox Insider Program hours before they are available. Back when it was the Xbox Preview Program, updates arrived for members roughly a month before they launched for everyone else. Now Microsoft tends to do less updates, meaning features arrive for program members months before they go out to everyone else.
Why You Aren’t Guaranteed Early Xbox One Updates through Xbox Insider
The differences between Xbox Insider and Xbox Preview start with how updates go out. Both programs award gamers points for providing feedback and filing bug reports. Only Xbox Insider uses that score in any meaningful way. With Xbox Insider, those with the highest scores can expect updates before anyone else.
Microsoft bases releases on waves, with the highest scorers in the program taking up a limited number of slots in the early waves. Gamers can track their progress directly from the Xbox Insider Hub, plus compare their scores to the high scores of others.
How to Participate in the Xbox Insider Program
Xbox Insider isn’t just a way to experience early Xbox One updates, though that’s what people appreciate about it most. The app offers early access to entire apps, like Microsoft’s refreshed Photos app that pulls down slideshows made of your pictures.
The key to building your score and getting more opportunities from the Xbox Insider Program is participation.
Filing Out Surveys
The Xbox Insider Hub runs polls frequently. These polls often focus on new things that have changed. Sometimes they request feedback on the overall Xbox experience. Simply answering these earns you experience points.
Like the Windows Insider Program, the Xbox Insider Program puts a heavy emphasis on Quests. In a Quest, Microsoft tasks you with using a new or updated feature. Once you have, filling out a survey about that feature gets you experience points.
When you run into a problem during testing while participating in the Xbox Insider Program, Microsoft hopes that you’ll file reports on all the bugs that you encounter, including providing screenshots if that’s necessary. A form for doing this is also in the Xbox Insider app.
Good luck making it into the Xbox Insider Program and getting Xbox One updates early. Though it requires more work than the original program did to get updates as soon as they arrive, this program seems in step with who should really be testing features as soon as they arrive.