Are Windows 7 Testers Going Unheard?

Dennis Faas's picture

Windows 7 beta testers are disputing whether or not Microsoft's is taking notice of their feedback.

The dispute follows a blog post by Steven Sinofsky, the man in charge of engineering Windows 7. He notes that in one week in January Microsoft received data through Windows 7's automatic feedback system every 15 seconds.

According to Sinofsky, it's impossible to keep everyone happy. That's partly because there are only so many changes Microsoft can make to the system and still finish it, and partly because in many cases testers often have opposing views about a feature. (Source:

Ina Fried at CNET, who's spoken to one of the men in charge of planning Microsoft products, notes that the firm has to concentrate on issues it knows are affecting many users, rather than those which individuals report. (Source:

Communication Breakdown

Microsoft hasn't done a great job of explaining to the millions of people who've tested Windows 7 that the beta stage is more about catching problems than significantly changing the way the system works.

There are also complaints that those who send in specific feedback don't hear anything in return and have no idea if their suggestions make any difference. Given that responding to every user is nearly impossible, Microsoft might need to find a way to limit expectations from those taking part in the beta testing.

Activation Or Frustration

Meanwhile, some testers are getting feedback from Microsoft, though it's not necessarily all that welcome. The beta edition is subject to Vista-style activation requirements: after three days without activation, users get a reminder every four hours until the 30th day, on which there's a reminder every hour. (Source:

After this there are frequent reminders designed to be even more annoying, and the desktop switches to a plain black background (supposedly designed to embarrass users when other people see the copy is not activated). Naturally, users won't -- in theory at least -- be able to activate a pirated copy of the final release.

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