Microsoft's motivation for pushing customers to run Windows 10 previews is obvious: It gains a huge pool of testers and millions of amateur quality control workers who help shake out software bugs before the code reaches the wild.
But is there anything in it for the customer?
"Absolutely," said Wes Miller, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, in a recent interview when asked whether customers benefit from participating in the Insider program. "You're testing the quality of those bits vis-a-vis your infrastructure."
Windows Insider, which Microsoft launched in the fall of 2014 as its first-ever ongoing beta program, delivers pre-release versions of the next Windows 10 feature upgrade. As Microsoft creates an upgrade, it periodically releases builds to the Insider audience. Just before the upgrade's actual ship date, Microsoft freezes the code, then begins work on the next version, with betas of that build reaching participants soon thereafter.