Microsoft loves engaging with MVPs—and that’s never been clearer as we look at all the ways the company is interacting with the MVP community. Last fiscal year, which ended in June, Microsoft hosted more product group interactions (PGIs) than ever with MVPs. It seems MVPs appreciated the increased opportunities, because attendance for the events jumped up by over 45%.

That’s just the beginning, according to Microsoft’s group product manager of Community Interaction and Feedback, COS, Mike Hickman: “Product groups see the value in these interactions, which is why last year they increased their investment in PGIs to the highest level in the history of the program and they’re planning even more in the coming year.”

This fiscal year, in July alone, 315 MVPs participated in 18 Microsoft PGIs. Of the approximately 90 areas of technical expertise in which MVPs are awarded, an impressive 20 were covered in July’s PGIs.

PGIs offer MVPs the opportunity to be at the cutting edge of Microsoft’s product developments and its future direction, which supports their leadership in technical communities.

“MVPs are technical experts who deploy and experience our products in the real world,” explained Hickman. “When we’re talking to them, we know we’re hearing from a highly credible part of our community. And when they influence our products, they’re helping make them more relevant for themselves and their communities. ”

PGIs are just one of the ways MVPs are offered a close connection with Microsoft. Keep watching this blog in the next week or two as we highlight this year’s upcoming regional community events and the 2011 MVP Global Summit—and the many ways Microsoft is reaching out to the highly regarded MVP community.