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Microsoft wants screaming Windows fans, not just users

And it might be winning them: Windows Insiders program has cracked the ten million mark

Microsoft's revealed it doesn't just want Windows users, it wants Windows fans. As in queue-all-night, constantly-offer-unsolicited-feedback, faint-at-the-sight-of-pop-stars fans.

News of Redmond's ardor comes from a post by Yusuf Mehdi, corporate veep of Microsoft's Windows and Devices Group.

Mehdi writes of the attending the launch of Xbox One and seeing fans queue in the streets and of how the XBOX team at Microsoft couldn't help but respond with acts of kindness to honour the fans' ardour as they queued over several cold New York days. The XBOX team also constntly courts its most ardent customers in other ways.

That experience led Mehdi to believe that Windows needs to be able to win fans, too.

“If you create the right connection it is not a token effort of outreach, rather it becomes the very way you build products and communicate about your progress,” he writes. “If you create a real community then the best thing happens: fans take it over and they drive the process connecting with each other and assuming your product as their own.”

Even if that sounds like saccharine corp-speak recycled from the School of ShinyHappy™ or a TED talk, it's working: Mehdi says the Windows Insider program now has over ten million participants. “Their feedback comes fast and furious, they have a relentless bar of what they expect, but it so inspires our team and drives our very focus on a daily basis,” he writes.

That's boiled down into the following creed:

So today, as I go into every meeting to discuss a new product or service, I have that thought in the back of my mind ‘How are our fans going to react?’ Will they cheer when we introduce it, will we surprise them in a delightful way, will they immediately want to reach out to talk about it with us and give feedback?

This stuff is coming to Reg readers at work, too, because Microsoft's now working on Windows Insiders for business.

Microsoft and every other vendor The Register speaks to always says they're customer-centric and design products in response to feedback and stated needs. Mehdi's post isn't a radical re-write of that play book.

But we can now see that Microsoft's efforts are extensive, deliberate and have senior executive sponsorship.

A final observation: on a panel at last week's Melbourne VMware user group conference, which as usual attracted nearly 400 attendees, one of the speakers was asked why he thinks the VMware community is so healthy.

He said events like the user group conference showed that VMware understood that it needed to foster a community of peers and added the spike “Have you ever heard of a Microsoft user group?”

Thanks to Mehdi's post, we have now. And we can see that while it may not fill convention halls, it is already powerful and important. ®

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