The Xbox team announced some significant changes to the Xbox Preview Program in November last year; today, the announced changes are being implemented.
Microsoft today released the first preview of the Creators Update for Xbox Insiders; of course, this requires Microsoft to detail how the Xbox Insider program works.
The Xbox Preview Program was invite-only, the Xbox Insider program is not – much like the Windows Insider program. There are a few more similarities, but the Xbox Insider program is more game-y than the Windows Insider program.
The Four Rings
This time the ring is not red, but there are four of them. There are four rings because a few Xbox Insiders (those who were migrated from the Xbox Preview Program) complained about receiving too many updates. That can become an issue too.
So, the Xbox team borrowed a few ideas from the Windows team and added some spice of their own. The Xbox Insider program involves four rings, but only the fourth ring is accessible by all.
Xbox One Update Preview Ring 4 – This is the outer-most ring of the Insider program. The Windows Insider equivalent would be the ‘Slow Ring,’ receiving only one update a month.
An update a month also means that this is the most stable ring of all; these updates are almost ready for public release and are just going through the final touch.
Here’s the fun part: Xbox Insiders will only be able to access this ring unless they submit feedback. More on that in a moment.
Xbox One Update Preview Ring 3 – This ring is equivalent of the ‘Fast Ring’ of the Windows Insider program. The Xbox Insiders on Ring 3 will receive updates 2-3 times a month, but unlike the Fast Ring for Windows Insiders; Ring 3 updates will come infrequently and at odd times.
Xbox One Update Preview Beta – This is where the similarities to the Windows Insider program end; the Beta Ring will receive new system updates once or twice per week. These updates will include quick bug fixes and early access to features.
Xbox One Update Preview Alpha – This is the frontline. Xbox Insiders on the Alpha Ring will receive 2-3 system updates per week; these updates will include a lot of bugs, bug fixes for bugs from previous builds, and a few random incomplete features.
Xbox Insiders will find broken features, buttons that do nothing and many other strange things. The Alpha Ring isn’t for gaming – it’s for the hardcore Xbox fans who want to make the console the best there is.
The One Ring
The Xbox team is quite serious about these rings; the Xbox Insider program is designed to gather feedback for features that are still in the works. Microsoft has therefore made sure that only those comfortable living on edge can join these rings.
Whilst the Windows Insider program allows anyone to become an Insider and join a ring of their choice; the Xbox Insider program is making a change for the better.
Ring 4 is the only ring an Xbox Insider can join by pressing a button. Ring 3, Beta Ring, and Alpha Ring are only accessible to those who submit feedback.
It’s like a game. If an Xbox Insider provides more feedback, they rank up on the ladder; a higher rank makes them eligible for another tier of the rings. Therefore, the only people who will be on the Alpha Ring would be those who submit a lot of feedback often.
Here are the tasks that Xbox Insiders must do to rank up:
- Participate in Quick Polls, provide Ratings, and fill up the Quests and Surveys in the Xbox Insider Hub.
- Join any game and app betas that are available to them via the Xbox Insider Hub.
- Provide feedback for the Xbox One Preview system updates – this is, of course, the most important.
- Report bugs via the ‘Report a problem’ feature.
- Finally, a good Xbox Insider needs to use their Xbox One regularly.
How to join the Xbox Insiders
Joining the Windows Insider program is easy – it’s just a dropdown in the Settings app on Windows 10. The Xbox Insider program, however, requires a sacrifice.
The sacrifice is of a few megabytes of data; users will have to download the Xbox Insider Hub from the Xbox Store. Once downloaded, simply follow the instructions and join the Ring 4 of the Xbox Insider program.
Microsoft has also written up a handy FAQ for the Xbox Insider program, available here.