Microsoft trims MVP benefits, allows shareholders say on executives' pay

Microsoft trims MVP benefits, allows shareholders say on executives' pay

Summary: Microsoft is trimming some of the benefits it is offering to participants in its Most Valuable Professional (MVP) program.It's also introducing a say-for-pay provision to its shareholders.


Instead of trying (and failing) to do full blog posts on the many different Microsoft news bits I've read recently, I decided to do a quick link list. Here are a few new items that might be of interest:

Microsoft is trimming some of the benefits it is offering to participants in its Most Valuable Professional (MVP) program, no doubt due to cost-cutting measures affecting the company overall. In a note to MVPs (posted on the site), Microsoft claims to be "expanding our investment in the MVP Award Program" with a new online MVP portal coming next year. But in the same note, officials acknowledge that they are cutting a number of the "less significant" benefits, as of October 1, including Company Store (MVP Bucks), E-Academy, E-Reference Library and MS Press Book Reviews. The worldwide MVP conference is not cancelled; it's on for mid-February 2010 (but in Redmond/Bellevue, not in Seattle).

Microsoft is allowing shareholders to have a formal say about its executives' compensation. In Microsoft's case, the "say on pay" input will be collected once every three years. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer just got a 4 percent raise for fiscal 2009, by the way (not counting bonuses). Microsoft is one of a growing list of public companies adopting the say-for-pay provision. The first nonbinding vote on executive compensation happens in conjunction with this year's shareholders' meeting on November 19. Microsoft Windows President Steven Sinofsky is slated to release a book later this year, co-authored with Harvard management professor Marco Iansiti that will offer insights into how to make a large organization not just survive, but thrive. The book will be published by John Wiley & Sons. Think of it a detailed analysis of Microsoft's Windows client unit -- which Sinofsky reorganized and pruned in order to get Windows 7 done in a timely way and to create the groundwork for future Windows releases. (TechFlash's Todd Bishop found a Barnes & Noble listing for the forthcoming title,  -- tentatively named "One Strategy!" and due November 28.

Microsoft has made available another piece of its Azure cloud platform puzzle: The Azure management API. The API is meant for developers who need to deploy and manage the compute and storage components of the Windows Azure operating system. The Azure management API is REST-based and will allow developers to code against in their toolset of choice to manage their services.

Topics: Microsoft, Banking, CXO, Operating Systems, Software, IT Employment, Windows


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).

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • MVP Perks

    It is too bad about losing some (or almost all) of the MVP award benefits. Many MVPs are quite upset over it, but we have to remember that MS can pull the plug on the entire program at any time. I'll miss shopping at the Company Store most. Hopefully, they will reinstate some of the perks as the economy improves.
    • When do you think the US economy will recover?

      Probably when we re-build our manufacturing and other bases that generate products and services people want to and can pay for... (I'm, busy in school udpadting my education while doing a full time job and buying the hardware I need to excel in the fields I'm studying. It's not easy, but I'll do it - because good paying jobs WILL come back. )
    • MVP For 6 Years

      I have been a Microsoft MVP for the last 6 years in a row and have enjoyed many of the perks.

      Sure the removal of the "Microsoft Bucks" is sad, BUT the major gift we receive is the free 12 month subscription to MSDN and TechNet. That has NOT been removed from the MVP program and is still a perk for us going foward.

      Marc Liron MVP
      • but for to be a MVP you must spend..

        But for to be a MVP you must spend a considerable amount of time. Sometimes you can earn a lot more spending this time in personal projects rather to work "for free" for Microsoft.

  • If bankers say capping their salaries hurts their desire to work,

    then where will the MVPs be in terms of their responses for getting a huge slap in the face for their efforts?

  • What purpose do MVPs serve?

    I always thought it was an earned position, but then remember reading that it was a position the person nominates himself for.

    If this is simply a self-congratulatory thing, it would seem to be something easily cut out.
    • Your question is incorrect

      While you're free to nominate yourself - or someone else - at, most of the MVPs I've known were not seeking to become MVPs, and were genuinely surprised that they were invited into the programme.
      Similarly, most of the MVPs worth knowing have indicated that the benefits do not change their behaviours that made them eligible to be MVPs. They help people because there are people who need help.
      So no, it's not "simply a self-congratulatory thing".
      Asking "what purpose do MVPs serve?" implies that they are assigned to a purpose. This is incorrect - MVPs are recognised for having served. It is an award in recognition of past behaviour, not as payment for future acts.
      Alun Jones
    • MVPs are:

      Independent experts who are active in the user user community, nominated by their peers, Microsoft employees, and MVPs. While you can nominate yourself nothing is likely to come from your self nomination unless you are very active in one or more technology communities and acknowledged by the others in those communities as expert in a specific program or technology. If you believe the MS FAQ at Of 100 million technical community participants worldwide, about 4,000 are MVPs. As Alun said, most MVPs were surprised when they received the award from Microsoft for their community contributions.
    • We Are Important

      I disagree about self nomination. MVP's are nominated by their peers and Microsoft staff.

      As MVP's we serve the online (and offline)communities that we have the MVP award in. For instance the last 6 years I have supported Windows XP (and later Vista users) in online forums and via my popular support websites and Windows newsletter.

      I do this for free becuase I believe in the software!


      Marc Liron MVP
      • For me, it's helping

        For me, I do it because I've learned a lot over the past 25+ years. I've also worked with end users both at IBM and the Hospice I currently support. I know how frustrating PCs, servers, software and networks can be. I want to use that knowledge and experience to help others fix or avoid problems.

        Just like teaching (I was a physics grad student at U of Md), there's no greater feeling than when you get an "I understand!!" or "Thanks! That was it!" reply...

        That's why *I* do it....

        Hank Arnold (MVP)
    • Wrong....

      When I was first nominated 3 years ago, I almost fell off my chair! To this day, I have no idea who nominated me. While I suppose some folks do nominate themselves, I doubt that many awards are a result.

      This award is a way for MS (and the on-line community) to recognize (and reward) folks who spend a lot of time trying to help folks dela with a very complicated and frustrating environment . As others have said (and will say), loss of come of the perks is painful, but it's damned nice to be able to put the award certificates on my office wall and be able to put (MVP) after my sig.
  • Say-on-pay dangerous

    I'm not sure if I like the say on pay thing.

    Shareholders are motivated by their ROI. This is often a short-term thing. Connect these two points, and you could see executives being incented to make short-term decisions that are actually bad in the long term. As if they didn't have enough incentive to do that already, now we're adding more to it.

    I think a better idea is to have a long-term, structured compensation plan similar to what pro athletes have. For example, the structure could include basic compensation, then have add-ons for long term goals like five years of sustained double-digit growth.

    That's better than tying exec compensation to share price.