Xbox Insider Program now open to all, rings get new names

Video games have become so sophisticated and so complex that each one, especially triple-A ones, take up a huge amount of human resources and working hours even just to get updates out the door. At the same time, players have equally become more sophisticated and more varied in their tastes that it's no longer a one size fits all situation. But rather than just throw in more time and more people in perfecting an update, Xbox is taking a more efficient approach by harnessing the power of the crowd. Yes Xbox fans, the Xbox Insider Program is now open to everyone willing to lend a helping hand. With some caveats, of course.

The Xbox Insider Program is the platform's exclusive club of gamers who have been tapped to help test games and provide feedback in exchange for getting their mitts on system or game updates before everyone else. Well, formerly exclusive club, now that Microsoft is opening the doors to everyone. That said, they still need to do crowd and quality control so, in effect, it's really just moving the exclusive club to higher tiers.

The Insider Program revolves around "rings", Microsoft's favorite term for lanes or tiers. In a nutshell, the higher you are on the ladder, the earlier you're able to get preview builds. However, higher tiers also means more requirements and a longer probation period. So don't expect to be an Alpha dog after just joining the Insiders club. The chart below says it all.

If you do decide to volunteer your time and resources to make the Xbox One a better playground, do expect some sacrifices. In particular, do expect your monthly Internet usage to spike up. Since you will be downloading updates regularly, you will use up a lot of bandwidth, from 4 GB a month at the lowest Omega ring to as much as 80 GB monthly in Alpha.

The good news is that those from higher rings can opt to descend to the lower ones if they're worried about their numbers. Xbox also warns Delta ring members that while everyone will eventually get the update before those in Omega, or before the pubic for that matter, not everyone will get it at the same time. It's a matter of chance, based on a random pick, who gets what first, so no one has reason to be jealous of other testers.