Microsoft is calling on consumers to join its Windows Feedback Program, and is even offering free software as an incentive. According to Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc, the program was created so that customers can be more actively involved with providing direct feedback to the Redmond company. Does this mean consumers have a new tool for complaining about the lack of a Start button/menu in Windows 8? Probably not.
"The program is invite-only and only available for customers in the US," LeBlanc said on the Windows Experience Blog. "We are actively seeking volunteers who are using Windows 7 or the Windows 8 Consumer Preview to participate. The program is not a way to submit bugs for the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, but rather a way to help us build better software by getting a broader understanding of your perceptions and experiences with our products."
Once consumers are chosen for the program, they can offer their input in two forms: through surveys or automatically by installing a special client on their PC that collects data. While the latter option sounds somewhat scary, there is a nice little payoff: free stuff. For those who stick with the program for four months using either method, they will be eligible for free software and Xbox games such as Microsoft Office 2010, Kinect Disneyland, and Forza Motorsport 4.
To join the program, head here. The link leads to a Microsoft-hosted sign-up page that requires an email address for notification of an open spot on the panel. "By participating in the program, you can help us focus our work on the features that you use most often, or tell us where to simplify our services when they're too difficult. Depending on your level of involvement, you could qualify for free software or could be entered into sweepstakes to win prizes," the page states.
As Microsoft indicates, consumers chosen on the panel will be able to directly influence how Microsoft design Windows and Windows Live services, including Hotmail and Messenger. You never know -- enough user feedback may convince Microsoft to implement some kind of Start button/menu in Windows 8 after all. Or maybe not.