Joy as Microsoft reinstates MVP program!

Pressure from web communities gets results as Microsoft voluntary support scheme receives new lease of life

In an amazing u-turn, Microsoft last night reversed its decision to scrap its Most Valuable Professional (MVP) program, following a huge volume of feedback from online communities requesting the giant to reconsider.

As part of its campaign to take over the administration of its own MSN newsgroups, Microsoft had decided to pull the plug on its MVP advocacy program as of 1st December. On Friday, Microsoft sent a memo to MVPs, notifying them that their services would no longer be needed. A reproduction of the letter Microsoft Director of Business Joseph Lindstrom sent to each MVP appears on the largest site associated with the Microsoft Developer program -- mvps.org -- under the headline "The Kiss-Off".

Microsoft's notification of reinstatement is an all together happier affair. The latest mail reads: "Last week Microsoft made an announcement about changes to the Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Program. Since that announcement, we have received feedback from customers and MVPs, asking us to reconsider this decision. Our objectives have always been to provide the best technical support in the industry and a part of that support is the activity taking place in the newsgroups today. MVPs make a significant contribution to our customer satisfaction, and we sincerely appreciate their efforts."

The email notification continues: "Clearly, the feedback received recently is in strong support of the MVPs and the great contributions they make in the newsgroups. Based on this feedback, we will reinstate the MVP Program effective immediately. We will also take an additional step to organise an MVP advisory council that will help us shape the program going forward. Our existing customer advisory councils will also be used to gather feedback and help us shape the future of our newsgroups. We will work to improve the existing program in a way that better meets our customer needs. Your MVP Buddy will be contacting you about possible participation in the advisory council."

The largest support site for the MVP program, www.mvps.org heralded the reversal as a huge win for online communities. It claimed that by deluging senior Microsoft executives with exasperated mails concerning the abandonment of the MVP program, the "community" had forced the reinstatement.

Peter Boulding of Peter Boulding Associates, a Wiltshire-based company, who had yesterday expressed his concerns in an open letter to Lindstrom, copied to ZDNet News UK, welcomed the overturned decision as a milestone in online history:

In a mail to ZDNET News UK today he said: "This just may have been a pivotal moment in the history of the Net!"

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