Microsoft to retire, refocus Windows Phone MVP program

Microsoft to retire, refocus Windows Phone MVP program

Summary: Microsoft is making some big changes to one of its Windows Phone programs that is resulting in some unhappy former advocates.


Microsoft is making some big changes to one of its Windows Phone programs that is resulting in some unhappy former advocates.

A number of Windows Phone Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs) -- the volunteer army that has helped Microsoft with its mobile phone charge -- are being notified this week that Microsoft is dropping them from its program.

I've heard that Microsoft earlier this week sent e-mail this week to a number of MVPs on its Windows Phone team notifying them that they are not going to be renewed at the end of their existing terms. This isn't just the usual phase out that happens when MVP renewals occur. This is a bigger and more concerted effort, according to individuals I've heard from, but who asked not to be named.

"They are creating a new more consumer-focused group at some point in the future. Speculation is end of year or early 2012," said one former MVP who asked for anonymity. The email wording "was very specific -- Windows phone MVP award expertise is being retired. They are not awarding or re-awarding for this area."

However, "we've always considered this group to be consumer focused," the former MVP said. "The general feeling is that they are cleaning house - hitting the reset button and starting over with this group. What I've been told from someone on the inside, is that they are going to focus on people that are contributing in the MS Answers forums. But those in the existing group that are leaders in the answers forums have also been cut."

That explanation seems to be verified by a posting on Quora, in response to a question "How do you become a Windows Phone MVP?" The answer:

"I was told 'The Windows Phone product group have recently decided that, in the new financial year, they will re-structure the way they engage with MVPs .... they have announced a freeze on awarding new Windows Phone MVPs. They will be opening up to new Windows Phone MVP nominations late this year or early next year....

(Thanks to Windows Phone MVP @toddogasawara for his tweet pointing me to the Quora posting.)

Another contact who asked not to be named claimed that Microsoft notified all of its Windows Phones MVPs (about 85 in total, according to the contact) that they were being phased out and not renewed.

"They were told the 'Windows Phone expertise' was being discontinued and replaced by a 'Windows Phone Consumer'  expertise, and that when their respective one year term was up, they would no longer be Windows Phone MVPs. Effective the first week of July, at least a dozen (possibly two) will be culled from the ranks around the world, and come October another couple of dozen will go. This will continue until next year when all the Windows Phone MVPs will be gone," the contact said.

The contact also said that the existing Windows Phone MVPs were told they will be considered for the new program, but no details were given about the qualifications Microsoft will be seeking.

"What's particularly baffling is that all the MVPs are already helping Windows Phone Microsoft's stated rationale is particularly galling," s/he added.

I've asked Microsoft what's going on, but have not received a response from anyone on the Windows Phone team.

Update: One MVP told me that the Windows Phone Development MVPs are not part of this MVP "house-cleaning."

The MVP move comes during the same week that Microsoft released the Mango Windows Phone operating system beta bits to developers. Microsoft is subjecting the devs to NDA terms, even though these are the same beta bits Microsoft made available to the press for review (and which the press who got them are no longer required to keep secret). I've also asked the Softies for the reasoning there but still have yet to hear back....

Update: This just in from a Microsoft spokesperson, re: the Mango dev bits:

“This is a standard practice when pre-release code is distributed to a mass audience. Permission to publish content, screenshots or comments based on this pre-release code can be obtained from Microsoft on a case-by-case basis.”

Updated again (July 1): It looks like the NDA terms are even looser than the spokesperson suggested. Microsoft is only restricting images, the distribution of the actual Mango bits and the application updater. More here.

Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Didn't you get MVP status...

    Simply buying a WP7 handset?
    Richard Flude

      @Richard Flude
      I really love how you comment on every single Micro$ux article you can find with your snide comments! ROCK ON DUDE!!! YEAH!!!
    • RE: Microsoft to retire, refocus Windows Phone MVP program

      @Richard Flude
      By that logic I should be MVP for iOS devices because I own 3 iPhone 4, 1 iPod Touch 3rd Gen, 1 iPad and 1 iPad 2, also from Google for owning Evo 4G, EVO 3D, Atrix 4g, 1 Galaxy Tab and besides from Microsoft. Dude get a life.
      Ram U
      • RE: Microsoft to retire, refocus Windows Phone MVP program

        Hey, let me try n sell you a bridge... it's a lil rusty but nothing some paint cant fix. But dont cover up the apple thats sitting on it =)
    • Unlike Apple in which you are considered an MVN

      @Richard Flude
      as to them you are only a number, though a number you appear to wear proudly.

      Quite illogical. :|
      Tim Cook
      • RE: Microsoft to retire, refocus Windows Phone MVP program

        @Mister Spock
        MVN, I like it. :D
        Ram U
      • RE: Microsoft to retire, refocus Windows Phone MVP program

        MVN = Most Valuable Nut! Cool.
    • Message has been deleted.

    • They come real cheap

      @Richard Flude

      I think just wearing a button with the M$ logo on it, qualifies.

      blind obedience
      • RE: Microsoft to retire, refocus Windows Phone MVP program

        @blind obedience

        Indeed, and even with all of your rallying Linus still has that restraining order against you. I can't see why...all you did was stalk him for years begging for a hug.
        Morpheus Phreak
  • Long in the tooth

    Just quietly, a large number of those MVPs have been in the program for 5+ and 10+ years. They're Windows MOBILE fanboys, who will never be happy with Windows Phone.
    • I strongly disagree

      There are some WM focused ones but I know quite a few Win Phone MVPs who have been evangelizing the heck out of WP7, especially among consumers... MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
      • Some journalists don't declare that they are MVPs

        @Mary Jo Foley - Those armies of MVPs don't exactly evangelize for free.

        For example, some tech journalists on other publications are MVPs, and get showered with free gifts from Microsoft (eg free Windows Phones, free Zunes etc) that they don't declare on their articles.

        I'm happy to see this kind of thing ended.
  • Consider the following...

    This is complete conjecture on my part, but it makes sense.

    Microsoft is in the early stages of cleaning house on WP7. Windows 8 is where it's at, baby!
    • RE: Microsoft to retire, refocus Windows Phone MVP program

      @Info-Dave Though my comments on Windows Phone 7 have been critical to the point where most people would assume I'd like to see it fail (which is not the case), I honestly believe you're right.<br><br>The more I've really looked at how WP7 has been going, there's no doubt Mango will be nice (it is, I'm running Beta 2 (LG Quantum, AT&T)), but I think Microsoft has internally decided to string along WP7, hoping to at least gain upward traction until Windows 8 Phones can come out. Why? Because if Windows 8 is the "unifying" OS they claim it to be, it will FINALLY be the point where you can seamlessly move things between phone, PC, and tablet, something that has been the biggest hope, but biggest failure, of "Windows" branded mobile OS's (by this I mean they've always been separate versions and not easy, or even possible, to share between them).
  • Flip, Flop, another Flop from MS.

    It's been almost a year now and they still are not talking sales. And from the 3rd parties that are talking sales, Win Mobile 6.5 has been outselling Win Phone 7.....
    • Message has been deleted.

      Tim Cook
      • Message has been deleted.

      • RE: Microsoft to retire, refocus Windows Phone MVP program

        Why don't you answer his question, Mister Green Skin.

        Where are those sales numbers at?

        Oooops... :p
        blind obedience
    • That is because the hardware still sucks

      @itguy10 WP7 is a good phone platform but it doesn't matter how good WP7 is - if you put it on antiquated hardware no one will come.

      Set someone loose in a phone store and they will gravitate towards the hardware first or if they want iphone they'll look at that or BB they'll look at that. For non techies they couldn't tell you the different between WP7 or Android or WebOS for that matter - they can tell you - this phone has a big screen, this phone is slim, this phone has 4G (they may not know what 4G is but they know they want it since they've been told it is faster).

      Now let's look at what Sprint has - a small screened, bulky phone - no 4G, BT 2.x - EVO 3D - BIG screen, slim, 4G, BT 3.0, removable storage - a year ago they had the EVO 4G - BIG scren, slim, 4G, removable storage - still beats the Arrive which came out 9 months after the EVO 4G

      Now lets look at what Verizon has - the Trophy - small screen, small battery, 3G only and BT 2.x

      Sprint and Verizon account for over half the US subscribers - which means over half the US can't pick a decent WP7 phone if they stick with their current carrier. Tmobile has a larger WP7 phone but the screen is dull and the battery is small and no 4G. ATT has the Focus - one of the better WP7 phones with update issues and no 4G and no BT 3.0.

      HTC is making a new large screened phone - probably GSM only which has a 4.7" screen and a 1.5GHz processor - however it still doesn't have removable storage, 4G connectivity or BT 3.x or 4.x.

      You can't take a a fine meal and serve it in a garbage dumpster and expect most people to show much interest.