Microsoft MVP’s are an independent community of technical leaders who share their expertise and real-world knowledge about Microsoft products. Even before the Internet and social media service existed, people via independent groups willingly offered their ideas and best practices in technical communities.
Around 20 years back, Microsoft, realizing the potential of these individuals and the roles they might play in future in helping people do great things with its different products, decided to acknowledge the work of these experts by giving them an award aptly called ‘Most Valuable Professional’ Award. Microsoft created the MVP Award to honor members who share their technical expertise, and real-world knowledge with the different technology communities related directly or indirectly to Microsoft. The award is however given for contributions made by the member over the previous 1 year.
The award was instituted in February 1993, and today, after almost 20 years there are more than 4,000 MVPs worldwide. These group of individuals represent more than 90 countries, speak over 40 languages and answer more than 10 million questions a year.
The year 2012 has been a momentous year for the MVP community. The community is now poised to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of the MVP Award. Today, the role of MVPs is not just limited to sharing knowledge, but also help developers build the right products, provide essential feedback on Microsoft technologies and be a core part of the development process.
Here are just few examples of the active participation of the community in different programs and launches this year:
- MVPs hit the road for the Windows Server 2012 Roadshow, contributing their real-world expertise in more than 20 countries.
- This year more than 60% of the global launch events for Visual Studio 2012 featured MVP sponsorship or presentations.
- In more than 40 languages, MVPs’ blogs, forum answers and presentations have helped people around the world as they make the move to Windows 8.
In addition to the tens of thousands of people MVPs reach each day through social media, in forums, at user groups gatherings and as presenters at technology conferences around the world.
Says Mike Hickman – Director of Global Community Engagement, when talking about 20 Years of MVP Program and Year 2012:
The role MVPs play in the advancement of new technologies begins long before products launch. At last year’s MVP Global Summit, where MVPs were meeting privately with product teams from across the company, the Windows 8 Consumer Preview and the Visual Studio 11 beta went public. Windows Azure corporate vice president Jason Zander personally asked MVPs to give his team their feedback. At the recent Windows 8 launch, S. Somasegar, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Developer Division, summed up their contributions: “Thanks to the MVPs for helping us build the right products as well as being the core part of our vibrant community,” he said.
How did the idea of MVP Award came into existence?
Earlier, Microsoft provided all the needed help, related to technical support on the online peer support communities such as CompuServe. The CompuServe FoxPro forum was extremely popular and busy. Calvin Hsia, then an independent developer came up with a unique solution. He created a list named ‘Calvin’s List’. The list had many members and it displayed postings by them. The postings strictly contained information on technologies. Getting an entry even in the top 10 on Calvin’s List any month was considered as a big achievement. Some of the Microsoft people started showing interest and jumped on Calvin’s List as a way to identify high contributors.
This was how the MVP Award Program was born.
It is a little known fact that, in 1999, a Microsoft executive sent out a message announcing the cancellation of the MVP program. But after an outpouring of online support, including emails sent directly to Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, Microsoft announced three days later that the cancellation had been rescinded. The MVP Program was back!
Even after truly memorable 20-years of existence, MVPs’ commitment to continuously learn and share can be noticed through their willingness to take time out of their busy schedules and join Microsoft teams at various events around the world.
I am proud and happy to be a member of the Microsoft MVP Community, for the last 7 years or so! Go here if you want to find out how to become a Microsoft MVP or MCC.