Xbox One's Insider Program--the scheme that allows players to test system updates ahead of their full release--is now open to all, Microsoft has announced. Until now, only select Xbox Live members have been able to take part in the program, but now anyone can sign up and take advantage of early updates.
In a blog post, Microsoft explained it's "simplifying entry" into the program, which also grants occasional early access to upcoming Xbox titles. In addition, you can now choose to move between the program's four tiers, provided you attain enough Insider XP. Some of those four tiers have been renamed--here's what they're now called and a description of each, via Microsoft:
|New Group Name||New Ring Description||Old Group Name|
|Alpha||Invite-only access ring reserved for Xbox Insiders that provide the most customer feedback, report problems with clear repro steps, and are especially active on Xbox One consoles. From time to time, our best Beta and Delta users will get invited to join the Alpha group.||Alpha|
|Beta||Now open to Xbox Insiders with a tenure (time in Program) of three or more months and an Xbox Insider XP of Level 4 or higher.||Beta|
|Delta||The new Delta group is open to any Xbox Insider with a tenure of one or more months that has reached Xbox Insider Level 2 or higher. Members of the Delta group may also receive builds earlier in the release schedule to test service scalability and feature acceptance. This means that not all users in the Delta group will have access to the same features at the same time.||Ring 3|
|Omega||Anyone can join the Omega group, which will be used to test minor changes made to the previously released monthly updates. Additionally, the Omega group will usually get early access to an upcoming monthly update before the general availability release date.||Ring 4|
Moving upwards through the tiers is simply a case of providing helpful feedback and being an active Xbox One owner, Microsoft says. The upper tiers gain the biggest updates earlier, though be warned that they are also subject to more frequent updates (between 15 and 20 in the Alpha ring), so you may want to remain at a lower level to save your bandwidth.
|Flight Ring||Number of updates/month||Bandwidth usage/month|
|Delta||Varies. Select users can get around three updates per week.||Varies. Around 12 GB per week.|
Finally, Microsoft says it's "working closely with multiple first and third-party game studios" to bring more playtests of unreleased games. Recent Xbox One Insider playtests include Paladins and upcoming multiplayer pirate game Sea of Thieves. To join the scheme, just download the Xbox Insider Hub from the Xbox Store.
In other Xbox news, Microsoft says it's still working on bringing old Halo games to Xbox One via backwards compatibility, though there's still no word on when the games will actually be available. Xbox Achievements will also be receiving "fundamental changes" soon, according to Xbox corporate vice president Mike Ybarra.