Microsoft is holding an online meeting on May 4 on the topic of Windows Community. I'm wondering whether there might be an agenda item on the company's decision to discontinue its NNTP newsgroups.
NNTP newsgroups have been Microsoft's primary public support forums for its products and technologies for over a decade. I heard recently from a couple of my sources about Microsoft's intent to get users weaned from those public newsgroups and onto Microsoft forums, like Microsoft Answers, TechNet and MSDN instead.
Microsoft has told some of its community members that the existing newsgroup platform (NNTP) is running on an outdated version of Microsoft Exchange that is past its end-of-life support date, making spam, troll-management and synchronization difficult. Company officials also are playing up the new Web-based forums' ability to provide centralized searchable content and to highlight the contributions of designated experts.
Word is Microsoft is planning a phased approach, first eliminating newsgroups with less traffic, according to my sources. Microsoft is providing users with dedicated NNTP readers with a bridge client to help ease the move.
Update: Microsoft confirmed the NNTP newsgroup news a few hours after I posted this entry. Here's the statement from a spokesperson:
"On June 1, Microsoft will be progressively closing newsgroups and helping active newsgroups users migrate their discussions to the refreshed Microsoft forums that include Microsoft Answers, TechNet and MSDN. This decision was made in an effort to provide the best community and support resources and experience to our customers with social features and functionalities that address their feedback and needs."
I'm also wondering whether Microsoft will use today's online community meeting to share more information about the company's TechSupport Marketplace -- a complement to the Microsoft Answers forum that Microsoft began testing late last year. TechSupport Marketplace is an online tech-support forum that will be staffed by paid “independent experts.”
I see Microsoft's move away from NNTP as yet more evidence of the growing social-networking emphasis across the company. Anyone going to miss the old forums (besides trolls and spammers)?