Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

Microsoft Rewards Vista Beta Testers Handsomely

Today, along with availability on MSDN and TechNet, Microsoft posted the final RTM bits for beta testers on Connect. In a surprise move, Microsoft is making free copies of the Business or Ultimate editions to "any invited technical beta tester who submitted a bug. Period." (Sorry CPP members, that's not you).

In an interview with Paul Donnelly, Test Manager for Windows Beta programs, he said "It's a balance, and I decided to err on the side of customer happiness in requiring only a single bug to qualify." In stark contrast, Office beta testers got the shaft when it came time to reward testers for their efforts.

So if you were on the TechBeta and just relied on Windows Error Reporting to send your bugs in for you, you're SOL. Even if you ended up beating your head against the desk for a bug you could reproduce a hundred times that got closed as "Not Reproducible", you get a product key to complement you're now-flat forehead.

That's thousands of free copies of Windows, folks. At $399 a pop. You do the math. If 5,000 beta testers got a free copy, that's almost $2M in free software. How's that for a thank you?



  • Tony Gulino said:

    Well this is interesting. I signed up for the public Beta 2 but also got RC1 and was invited to both 5728 and 5744 builds (which I assume were open to only a few testers), so does this offer include those testers who were invited to the last two?

    November 16, 2006 8:59 PM
  • No, sorry...  You had to participate in the Connect beta.

    November 16, 2006 11:41 PM
  • Amazed Tester said:

    While I fully expected to get a copy due to extensive bug reporting, I am AMAZED that people are whining that they think they "might have" reported 1 bug and did not get a copy...

    1 bug????? As long as they were in the program for over a month, they should have run into dozens of bugs/incompatibilities/ was not hard to find one bug, or Design Change Request as late as RC2.

    Some people.....

    November 17, 2006 1:10 AM
  • Amazed Tester said:

    RC1 and RC2 were open to you and 100,000 of your closest friends if I remember correctly....

    November 17, 2006 1:12 AM
  • Fairness said:

    If they were being fair, they would also give a copy to CPP members who submitted bug reports because they *also* contributed to the success of Vista.

    November 17, 2006 3:48 AM
  • CharlyChango said:

    Is it available now? I can't see anything, and I've been reporting many bugs since Beta 1 (for example with photo gallery), although stopped in RC1. Will they automatically do it? Do we have to apply? Maybe I'm becoming a little bit nervous, hehe, it always took a while from your reports until we saw it on connect.

    November 17, 2006 4:30 AM
  • Sam Gentile said:

    The released Windows Vista is available for download on MSDN and TechNet . According to Robert (and may

    November 17, 2006 7:16 AM
  • Tony Gulino said:

    Well I think RC1 (5600) was open to the public like Beta 2 was, but yes, MS did sent out emails to select testers for 5728 and 5744, and I reported a few bugs there, one being a misspelled word in the 'Personalize Handwriting Recognition' wizard (which I'm not sure is fixed in RTM!). But I can understand why they would limit it to only Connect users because most of them probably have submitted more than just one bug, but it would be nice if they could give all testers who helped with the bug reporting a discount maybe. The whole move by Microsoft was a huge surprise for me; I've heard that they might have, but wasn't sure they would actually go through with it. It would help a college student like me but I understand their reasons if they wouldn't want to give away that many licenses.

    November 17, 2006 9:20 AM
  • Simon said:

    Aah... :(

    I submitted 20+ bug reports... But I'm not an official beta tester. No free Vista for poor Simon?

    November 17, 2006 9:25 AM
  • TrackBack said:
    November 17, 2006 12:31 PM
  • TrackBack said:
    November 17, 2006 12:31 PM
  • There were millions of people who were involved in the CPP.. do you honestly think that Microsoft was going to do anything for them too? What about people who got their copy from leakers... is Microsoft supposed to give them a freebie too?

    I wasn't on the Office beta, but I still acquired a copy and submitted bugs. Does that mean I should get the RTM? HELL NO.

    TechBeta testers are asked my Microsoft to be put through hell to test early code. Whether we like to do it or not, it's a hassle. CPP members weren't invited, didn't have access to the private newsgroups, and didn't get any support.

    Come on guys, be reasonable. Microsoft's damned if they do and damned if they don't. Instead of complaining about it, why don't you fill out a survey and apply for the next beta?

    November 17, 2006 2:16 PM
  • Simon said:

    Calm down... :)

    I'm participating in some other beta programs. But I didn't apply for Vista back when I could've. Don't really know why...

    Honestly, I think it's very cool that they give away free copies for beta testers. I didn't expect that move. (But it would be even cooler if they gave free copies to everyone who helped testing...)

    November 17, 2006 2:55 PM
  • Eduardo said:

    I think it'd be cool if MS gave the CPP folks a LITTLE something - like, say, a discount. Ya know, buy Home Basic and they'll "exchange" your Basic PID key for a Premium one.

    But, I'm not holding my breath...

    November 17, 2006 7:09 PM
  • Fairness said:

    You've got some irrelevant points on your post here Robert.

    I am not stating that every CPP member should receive a free copy of Vista.  However I do think that CPP members who submitted bug reports contributed to the success of Vista (just as the Connect members did) and they should be rewarded.

    November 17, 2006 9:09 PM
  • Fairness,

    I don't think it's irrelevant at all. The CPP was a free program that let the masses evaluate the software. It hadn't been done before. There were like 5 million downloads of the various Vista CPPs. If even a fraction of them get free copies, it becomes cost-prohibitive for Microsoft. It already cost them tons in bandwidth to be able to deliver the biggest download event in history.

    They didn't have to give it to anyone (every single Office tester got totally screwed, BTW) so I don't understand what the complaining is about.

    Some were going to get it, and some weren't.

    November 17, 2006 9:28 PM
  • Louis Davidson said:

    Is Vista going to be made available to Action Pack subscribers before January?

    November 18, 2006 9:25 AM
  • Fairness,

    It's completely relevant. If even a small fraction of those 5 million people submitted bugs, it becomes prohibitively expensive for Microsoft. Beta testing is to beat up bugs, CPPs are for evaluating the product for deployment. If you happened to submit bugs while you were evaluating it, you get the warm feeling that you had a positive impact on the product. That's the breaks, kid.

    I'm sure Microsoft will have a 180-day trial available, that you'll be able to convert to a full license with Windows Anytime Upgrade.

    November 18, 2006 1:06 PM
  • RickG said:

    I thought MS required beta testers to PAY THEM to be allowed to test.

    I'm an award winning beta tester for another Company, and giving the

    software away there has been the standard for years...


    November 18, 2006 1:47 PM
  • New Jimmy said:

    To be fair its a shame that Microsoft just didnt give free copies of vista to those on the CPP program, but that life, in hindsite they could have upped the requirements to say people who submitted 20 or more useful bugs on the CPP.

    Reading this

    It seems that some people who were on the official beta for over a year and never submitted even 1 bug, are complaining.

    I agree that pre Beta 2 is completely different to the CPP.

    MS could give those who submitted bugs as part of the CPP a coupon for a small discount on an MS Product.

    Is there going to be a Plus Pack for Vista?

    November 18, 2006 2:23 PM
  • Ljuvefreya said:

    There won't be a plus pack for vista. The "Plus pack" is called Ultimate ;)

    November 19, 2006 4:14 AM
  • Aku said:

    The only real bug i ever found was that the bug reporting tool would crash on me while trying to report another bug. so i guess I'm SOL then

    November 20, 2006 11:04 AM
  • A guy said:

    You know, the Connect feedback site really sucked... it sucked so bad everytime I tried to submit a bug it wouldn't let me.

    If this is how MS is going to reward me, then screw MS.

    November 20, 2006 5:02 PM
  • Omegaman said:

    Even after it gets released... we will still be beta testing it..... Does that mean I can get a free copy?

    November 20, 2006 7:14 PM
  • Sean said:

    I find it ignorant and makes me ticked offfffff when i applied for the beta program and never got accepted and can not get a free copy of Windows vista ultimate.

    November 20, 2006 9:06 PM
  • Ian said:

    i couldnt even burn my vista to CD

    November 21, 2006 4:38 AM
  • Brian McMahon said:

    Like many others, I submitted bug reports. In one case, I found a serious problem with the supposed defragger in Beta 2. (XP's defragger found that my Vista partititon was very severely fragmented but Vista's defrag said everything was fine. I defragged it and the change was enormous.) I submitted it first to the public section and then elsewhere in Microsoft when the forum MVP recommended it. I also suffered much lost time as I struggled, with a machine that was already subject to a long install to get RC1 installed, because in RC1 Vista insisted on installing a useless Nvidia driver instead of defaulting to VGA mode. (Beta 2 didn't do that, but MS did not inform anyone of the change in RC1.)

    It disappoints me to think that some are being rewarded because they are in a certain "class" of user (MS paid subscribers, in most cases) while others are not, just because they were not part of that class. McLaws, you are defending an unfair and discriminatory policy and simply telling the members of the other classes to, in effect, "Bug off and 'get the warm feeling that you had a positive impact on the product.'"

    Warm feelings are for charity or social work., not the dedication of personal time to help one of the world's richest corporations.

    Shame on you! Equal pay for equal work!

    November 22, 2006 10:50 AM
  • Daniel said:

    I don't mind if Microsoft wants to give free copies of Vista to connect members. Lucky them and thanks to Microsoft who didn't have to give anything to anyone but you should change the title of this post to "Microsoft rewards SOME Vista beta testers handsomely," because your current title is not accurate. Most beta testers haven't received anything. Get the facts straight!

    November 23, 2006 9:22 AM
  • Pat said:

    I have been running Vista RC1 since it's release and also have reported many bugs that I found.  I think though that a special price should be offered for those who participated in not only testing, but also evaluating the software.  I have been running it and I love it and wish to use it, however paying 400 is insane.  It sucks because now I have been running my computer for months on an OS that I will ultimately have to ditch because I can't afford the license.  I will end up having to go back to XP, or pay $400 when they finally disable my Vista product key so obviously I will just revert to XP, which I don't want to do.

    November 27, 2006 4:30 PM
  • Geoff said:

    I received 5 keys to Windows XP Pro as a tester.  Now they are only giving one key for Vista?  ::shrug::  I didn't actively participate in the Vista testing so I'm not complaining about not getting a free copy.  I prefer my Mac.  3 years ago I switched and it was the best move I ever made.  I'll buy Vista for my PC (rather, my wife's PC) but only after I see some benchmarks for how well it'll run on the replacement Mac Pro we'll be buying in a few months.  Don't really need Windows for anything beyond gaming though.

    November 28, 2006 1:57 PM
  • MOHAN said:


    November 30, 2006 3:27 AM
  • MOHAN said:


    November 30, 2006 3:27 AM
  • November 30, 2006 8:42 PM
  • As Ina Fried reports, Microsoft's free Vista & Office giveaway at is over. Apparently,

    December 1, 2006 2:34 PM
  • 数据恢复 said:


    December 2, 2006 6:02 AM
  • Craig said:

    MS is shooting themselves in the foot if they give CPP testers nothing.

    What do several million technically savvy and pissed off CPP beta testers do when they get the shaft from MS?

    Don't rush now, take your time...

    December 13, 2006 7:57 PM
  • Eduardo Alarcón M said:

    Verdaderamente muy bueno el nuevo windows es muy completo creo que es lo que los actuales tiempos requieren

    December 16, 2006 10:54 AM
  • Evergladesbob said:

    I too was a tester unfortunatly a new Gigabyte motherboard fails the Vista install and all I get are meningless blue screens.(Suspect on board video memory failing memory test, although it's a pcie 6100 nvidia).Wonder if the final release would install?

    December 19, 2006 8:39 AM
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