Users all around the world have had the possibility to try out Windows 8 for about a year now, ever since the company has made the Developer Preview flavor of the OS available for download.
However, while feedback from these users is invaluable, Microsoft also needed to test the platform internally, and on as many PCs as possible.
For that, the company engaged no less than 30,000 computers and almost as many employees in the testing of Windows 8 and IE 10 Release Preview as of mid-July, Patrick O’Rourke, director within the strategy, planning and communications team in Microsoft IT, unveils.
Called dogfooding, this is a usual practice within the company, often used for the internal testing of new products.
At the same time, the company was able to assess how the deployment of the new operating system would go for its enterprise customers, based on the experience that Microsoft IT had with the process.
According to Patrick O’Rourke, the deployment of Windows 8
Release Preview received full support from Microsoft IT via multiple channels, including self-help, help desk and an online community.
“This strategy is important so that Microsoft IT can collect diverse feedback for contribution back to the product group, and to meet the support needs of worldwide employees,” O’Rourke notes in a blog post
In terms of security, the deployment was also considered a success, especially since the company needed to validate a series of new features for enterprise customers.
Some of the features that have been deployed internally include trusted boot, DirectAccess (including validating virtual smart cards that use a machine’s Trusted Platform Module – TPM – chip), measured boot (reporting of machine health in a secure way), and BitLocker and its new feature, Network Key Protector Unlock.
Another aspect that was monitored during the deployment was user experience. O’Rourke notes that not only was the entire initiative meant to collect feedback from employees, but it was also focused on keeping them productive.
“The experience starts with installation. Microsoft IT used IT Easy Installer to streamline the install experience by automating everything for the user to migrate to Windows 8
. We cut the install time in half, which included the Office image,” he explains.
Microsoft IT also provided some employees with Windows To Go (with Windows 8 set up to boot and run from a flash drive), and used the recently detailed File History feature as well to deliver a complete data migration and protection strategy for employees.