Guest blogger Mike Hickman is Microsoft’s director of Global Community Engagement, including the MVP Award.
I’m in Brazil right now for the launch of Windows 8, surrounded by an enthusiastic MVP community. There are so many reasons that today—and this entire year—is an exciting time for all of us who work with MVPs. The Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Award is poised to celebrate its 20th anniversary - at the same time as Microsoft is in the midst of one of its most ambitious product release years. What is striking about these two milestones is how closely related they are: the release of this year’s roster of highly anticipated Microsoft products underlines that, after two decades, the dynamic MVP community is more critical than ever to enhancing the way people around the world use technology.
Twenty years ago, when Microsoft first recognized the contributions of community leaders who offered their knowledge and expertise to others, there were less than 40 MVPs. Today there are more than 3,800 and they are awarded across Microsoft’s wide array of products and services. There are MVPs awarded in every product that has been released this year or is coming to the market soon, from Internet Explorer 10 to Office 365, from System Center 2012 to Windows 8.
One of the hallmarks of the MVP Award is that it opens the door to two-way communication between exemplary community leaders and Microsoft—an unprecedented community relationship in our industry. Many MVPs are invited to provide their feedback to Microsoft products in development, and this early hands-on experience with coming products often supports the contributions MVPs make to their communities. So in a banner year for Microsoft products and services such as this one, it’s important to note MVPs not only offered their feedback on many of the new product features we’re seeing, but also already have the expertise to provide invaluable real-world advice as we learn to use these new features.
We saw this at the launch of Visual Studio 2012, where MVP blogs and presentations focused on the technical features of the new product (you can read some of their posts here on the MVP Award blog). MVPs helped introduce this important new product to the community, and 60% of the global launch events for Visual Studio 2012 featured MVP sponsorship or participation.
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.”
We’ve also been seeing the important role MVPs play in launches such as Windows Server 2012. MVPs have taken their expertise on a global roadshow, which has so far reached 3,700 people in 20 countries. And it’s not over yet. (Read more about the Windows Server 2012 Community Roadshow.)
For every large, MVP-organized initiative, there are dozens of smaller ones. Like the 15 MVP interviewees who are sharing their tips for the New Office on the “Office on Air” blog in France. Or the 30 MVPs I’ve had the distinct pleasure to celebrate the launch of Windows 8 with here in Brazil.
What this year shows us is that as Microsoft’s products grow and evolve, MVPs have often been part of every stage of the process, including helping people make the most of them—every day. That’s the 20-year legacy of this community. Here’s to 20 more!