Microsoft has decided to open up the Xbox Insider Program, which was promised earlier. The company has now delivered on that promise and this means that any Xbox One owner will be able to participate in more alpha and beta programs for the Xbox One, ranging from games, to apps, to dashboard updates.
Previously there were four rings for insiders to participate in, with the highest (or most inner) ring reserved for those who were selected to participate in alpha testing. The alpha test group will remain, and these select gamers are given invite-only access to test games, console firmware updates, and other apps well ahead of release for providing useful feedback and highly detailed debugging repro for the developers.
The alpha ring will not change, and those gamers and Xbox One users will still continue to receive limited exclusive invites. The beta phase, which is considered as "Ring 2" of the Xbox Insider Program , will also stay intact. The beta phase involves being able to play-test and participate in actual beta tests. This has slightly opened up now to those with a certain level of Insider XP, which is gained from being a useful participant in the Insider Program.
The program also changed "Ring 3" to the "Delta" tier. Those who are participating in the delta group(s) will receive builds slightly earlier than normal Xbox owners, and will be able to play-test these builds ahead of release, at least by a few months. Successful feedback provided by delta gamers can net those gamers XP that can later evolve them into the "Beta" tier.
The last tier is the one that has been overhauled the most. Previously it was known as "Ring 4", but now it's being called the "Omega" tier, and this allows anyone to join the Xbox Insider Program.
For the people who join this particular element it will mean that you can play-test or try out minor changes made to certain updates slightly ahead of release, as well as preview an upcoming monthly update just before it becomes available to the general public. Successfully providing feedback and being a noteworthy participant in the community will net you XP that can then be used to upgrade your tier.
The Xbox Insider Program was Microsoft's way of bringing gamers and the most ardent of Xbox One users into the fold in order to help increase the usability and quality of life features for Microsoft's console.
The program was previously restricted to an invite-only basis, but over time Microsoft has been opening it up for more users, and now anyone can join the "Omega" or "Ring 4" tier by simply going to the Xbox Store and downloading the Xbox Insider app from the app section.
It's a nice little gesture for those who would like to be a bit more hands-on with some of the upcoming updates for the Xbox One.