With Windows 10, Microsoft asked for an unprecedented level of feedback. The Windows Insider program not only provided keen users with access to preview builds of the operating system, but also gave a direct line to Microsoft to point out problems, make suggestions, request features, and so on.
In fact, the Windows Insider program is still running as Microsoft continues to ask for feedback. But the company faces accusations of not only failing to listen to the feedback it asks for, but deleting from the Feedback app and forums any suggestions it does not like. Highlighted for particular attention are suggestions about tabs in File Explorer, and requests to remove email addresses from Windows 10's lock screen. We decided to take a look and find out what is going on.
We were contacted by a reader who was concerned about the apparent disappearance of feedback about Windows 10. He had noticed that suggestions left via the Windows Feedback app vanished, despite the fact they had received numerous upvotes from other users. It seems that lots of users were concerned that Windows 10 displayed their email address on the lock screen and suggested that Microsoft might want to reconsider. Large numbers of people agreed, and suggestions of this type received hundreds upon hundreds of positive responses.
The same goes for requests for a tab bar to be added to File Explorer to make it easier to work with multiple folders at the same time. This is not something that's new with Windows 10 -- people have been begging Microsoft to add this feature for years, and a small industry has sprung up in third party tools that add it. It has been noted that suggestions filed through the Windows Feedback app calling for tabs are sucked into a blackhole, as have calls for a loosening of Microsoft Account integration.
It could be that feedback that is being acted upon is removed -- but this does not appear to be the case. It is not the case that all feedback relating to these topics is removed. It has been noticed that only those items with a lot of votes are culled -- that is, the more visible feedback. Could this highlight the notion that popular ideas are being worked on, or that there is censorship in action? Part of the problem is that feedback is a one-way street; Microsoft does not let Windows Insiders know about which feedback it is acting on. Perhaps increased transparency could help to calm the suspicions that have been raised.
We reached out to the company to see what it had to say. In a statement to BetaNews, a Microsoft spokesperson said:
After the launch of Windows 10 and in preparation for continued flighting of PC builds to Windows Insiders, we have taken the opportunity to clear out the older feedback that we received early on in our product development cycle from the search results that get returned within the Windows Feedback app. The feedback that has been previously provided is still stored in our backend systems. Engineers are using it to find and filter on key feedback for their areas. We have more than six million Windows Insiders in our Windows Insider program who are testing Windows 10 features on a daily basis. Their feedback is critical for us to both deliver the best customer experience with Windows 10 and also to keep improving and delivering new value in a continuous fashion.
What do you make of it? Have you submitted feedback which has subsequently disappeared into the void? Even if Microsoft is clearing out 'older feedback' would it not make sense to leave in place those topics that have received a lot of attention? Is all feedback being acted upon, or are the trickier and objectionable suggestions just being swept under the rug? Transparency is the answer!