With Windows 8 getting ever closer to its release date, Microsoft today announced that it is looking for volunteers to join its invite-only feedback program for active Windows 7 and Windows 8 Consumer Preview users in the U.S. In return for providing feedback to Microsoft – both by sending the company data or by filling out surveys – participants who stay in the program for more than four months will be eligible for “free software and Xbox games such as Microsoft Office 2012, Kinect Disneyland, and Forza Motorsport 4.”
In the announcement today, Microsoft communications manager Brandon LeBlanc stresses that this is not meant to be a way to submit bug reports. Instead, the idea here is to help Microsoft “build better software by getting a broader understanding of your perceptions and experiences with our products.”
It’s somewhat odd that Microsoft would choose this time to highlight this program. The Windows Feedback Program, after all, has been running for years already. Indeed, the sign-up for the Feedback Program is from 2009. While the sign-up form specifically mentions that volunteers will also be asked to provide feedback about Windows Live, including Hotmail and Messenger, today’s announcement puts the emphasis on Windows 7 and 8.
Chances are that the company is mostly making this appeal today because it is looking for more data about the Windows 8 user experience (a user experience that could definitely still use some work). It feels like it is rather late in the Windows 8 development cycle to ask for this kind of data now, though.