Microsoft is revamping its confusing Xbox Insider program to be more inclusive. After evaluation feedback from fans, Microsoft made the decision to open up the program to everyone, though it is not quite that straightforward. There are four tiers, and the one that was previously known as Ring 4 (now called Omega) is the one that anyone can join, regardless of experience.
Let's back up for a moment. Back in 2014, Microsoft launched two testing programs for the Xbox One and Windows—the Xbox Preview program and Windows Insider program, respectively. At Build 2016, Microsoft said it planned to merge the two programs, but later changed its mind. A few months later, Microsoft relaunched its Xbox One Preview program into the Xbox Insider program with a structure that is similar to what is now.
So, what's different? For one, Microsoft has renamed two of the groups. Ring 4 is now Omega and Ring 3 is now Delta; Beta and Alpha are still Beta and Alpha, but they are no longer by invitation only. However, there are requirements to gain access to these earlier testing phases. To be in the Delta group, you need to have a tenure of at least a month and have reached Insider Level 2. And for the Beta group, you must have served in the program for at least three months and have reached Level 4.
The Alpha group is still by invitation only. From time to time, Microsoft will extend invites to Beta and Delta group Xbox Insiders who provide the most customer feedback and report problems with clear and reproducible steps.
"With these updates, many new Xbox Insiders – previously limited to Ring 3 or Ring 4 – will be able to join the Xbox One Update Preview Beta and Delta groups, thereby expanding the types of updates and features they’ll be able to test right away," Microsoft explains.
Users in the Omega group can expect anywhere from one to eight updates per month, which will collectively take up 4-32GB of bandwidth. The Delta group varies—select users can get around three updates per week, taking up to around 12GB of bandwidth per week. Beta group members can expect 8-15 updates per month (32-60GB), while Alpha members are the most active with 15-20 updates per month (60-80GB).
The takeaway here is that the Xbox Insider program is now more inclusive overall, and still a little confusing. Where participants benefit is being able to test out features before the general public and provide feedback. The same applies to some games—the Xbox Insider team said it is working closely with first-party and third-party game studios to bring playtets of unreleased games to participants.