Microsoft has revealed that nearly 30,000 employees have been testing Windows 8 Release Preview on over 30,000 machines. The figures, a snapshot from mid-July, are part of the dogfooding evaluation at Microsoft — a process where a company uses its own product to test it before release. Microsoft regularly sets up internal dogfood builds for upcoming software products, including its web products and Office 2013.
Microsoft's internal IT team fully supported the Windows 8 Release Preview deployment, offering self-help, help desk, and online communities to provide employees with assistance. The company also provisioned 75 devices with Windows To Go, a new self-contained version of Windows 8 on a USB device, and provided them to senior staff and engineers. Although it's not surprising to see Microsoft test its own software internally, the fact that nearly a third of the company's 94,290 employees tested Windows 8 in its beta phase shows it's serious about the operating system.
The software giant now faces a potential struggle to convince business users that Windows 8 is worth the upgrade. Windows 7 is now running on 50 percent of all enterprise desktops, a figure boosted by the 630 million copies that have been sold overall. The value of Windows 8's new user interface is being debated heavily in all circles of enterprise and consumer IT, with some criticism levelled at the keyboard- and mouse-driven ways to use the new operating system. Now that Windows 8 development is complete, the focus is on marketing — something we'll start to see in the coming weeks.