Microsoft Revamps Its Most Valuable Professional Program
Microsoft changed its Most Valuable Professional program structure this month.
The changes were announced in a blog post today by Steve Guggenheimer, Microsoft's corporate vice president of developer platform and evangelism. MVPs are professionals working outside Microsoft with expertise in areas that intersect with Microsoft's products and services. They mostly get the MVP honor from Microsoft after providing contributions in the field, such as educational outreach. Sometimes, MVPs are critics of Microsoft, too, since they are independent of the company, but the MVP title also can be a career perk. They get access to Microsoft's technical teams.
October is a notable month for the MVP program as Microsoft earlier announced that 1,000 new or renewed MVPs were awarded this month.
The new MVP program changes are being made to align with Microsoft's "cloud-first, mobile-first" approach, according to Microsoft's description. The MVP program currently has 4,000 MVPs vs. 34 when it first started in 1993.
The new MVP program now has 10 categories (down from 36) for both IT pros and developers, with lots of focus on Microsoft's cloud platform. They include:
- Microsoft Azure
- Cloud and Datacenter Management
- Data Platform
- Business Solutions
- Enterprise Mobility
- Office Servers and Services
- Windows and Devices for IT
- Windows Development
- Office Development
- Visual Studio and Development Technologies
The cloud emphasis can be seen in the contribution areas within each of the 10 award areas. For instance, more than half of the Data Platform category is represented by Azure technologies.
Guggenheimer noted that MVPs have wanted to expand their communications more across a range of Microsoft product teams, and they have wanted to collaborate more with "field teams in local geographies." He said Microsoft is taking steps in that direction. Microsoft plans to honor MVPs based on their "contributions across technologies," he added. The company plans to stop its practice of honoring MVPs in just one area. The new structure has 90 contribution areas.
Microsoft issues the MVP awards, which likely will be changing in some cases with the new structure. For instance, Exchange MVP Michel de Rooij mused today in a Twitter post that he might now be known as an "Office Servers and Services MVP."
However, some of the old MVP award categories will still be maintained. Microsoft describes 18 categories that it is continuing, including Consumer Security, Windows Consumer Apps, Windows Experience, Windows Phone and Surface, among others.
Under the new structure, Microsoft plans to open up its Channel 9 portal to participation by MVPs for the first time. MVPs already are seen prominently at various tradeshow events, but Microsoft plans to expand their appearances at "regional events," as well as "having Microsoft evangelists join their MVP-created community events," according to Microsoft's description.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.