Microsoft hones MVP program to focus on developers, IT pros

Microsoft is taking the next steps toward focusing its Most Valuable Professional influencer program on its non-consumer-focused products and services.

Microsoft is in the midst of revamping its Most Valuable Professional (MVP) program, moving its consumer-focused MVPs to new influencer programs "in the coming months."

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MVPs who aren't in the Developer and IT Pro arenas will be moving to new influencer programs that will be managed by the respective product teams, according to email Microsoft has sent to current MVPs.

This means Xbox, ID@Xbox, Bing Ads and the Windows and Devices, Windows Experience, Windows Phone, Consumer Security and Surface MVPs will be moved to new and so far publicly unspecified programs. The Office-related MVPs, given their focus on dev and IT Pro, will still remain part of the existing MVP Award program.

Microsoft launched its MVP program in 1993. As of October 2015, there were 4,000 Microsoft MVPs. MVPs are awarded the designation for helping others use Microsoft technologies via contributions to online forums and other social channels; through articles and books; and outreach at conferences and other events.

When I asked Microsoft about the changes, a spokesperson sent me the following statement:

"The MVP program started off as a consumer influencer program but has, over time, become more Developer and IT Professional focused. We are now formalizing this change by having the Xbox, ID@Xbox, Bing Ads and Windows & Devices Award Categories supported directly by the product teams."

The coming MVP program tweaks follow changes to the program that Microsoft made in October 2015 that were design to align the MVP program with Microsoft's "cloud first, mobile-first" charter. At that time, Microsoft reduced the number of MVP categories encompassing IT Pros and developers from 36 to 10.

I also heard that Microsoft eliminated the jobs of its U.S. Community Program Manager (CPM) liaisons to the MVP program, including Microsoft Audience Evangelism Manager, US Developer MVP Lead Dora Chan, on Monday. One person suggested that Microsoft might be moving the locations of the U.S. CPM positions rather than eliminating them outright. The aforementioned spokesperson said Microsoft wouldn't comment on rumors.

With Microsoft's evolving focus on its core productivity software and services business, the changes to the MVP program make sense. I'll be interested to hear more about the new influencer programs Microsoft is planning for its consumer-focused MVPs.

Update: Windows IT Pro's Rod Trent says July 1, 2016, is when these MVP program changes will take effect.

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