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Microsoft Shakes Up MVP Categories

Microsoft this month is shuffling the structure of its Most Valuable Professional program, which is an important badge of credibility for many members of the Microsoft Partner Network.

The changes were announced in a blog post Wednesday by Steve Guggenheimer, Microsoft's corporate vice president of developer platform and evangelism. MVPs are professionals working outside Microsoft with expertise in areas that intersect with Microsoft's products and services. They mostly get the MVP honor from Microsoft after providing contributions in the field, such as educational outreach. Sometimes, MVPs are critics of Microsoft, too, since they are independent of the company, but the MVP title also can be a career perk. They get access to Microsoft's technical teams.

In the Microsoft channel, the badge can signify a champion within a partner company that helps the entire firm establish its reputation. According to previous estimates, roughly a quarter of MVPs worldwide work at Microsoft partner companies.

October is a notable month for the MVP program as Microsoft earlier announced that 1,000 new or renewed MVPs were awarded this month. The changes also come just before the Microsoft MVP Global Summit at the company's headquarters from Nov. 2-5.

The new MVP program changes are being made to align with Microsoft's "cloud-first, mobile-first" approach, according to Microsoft's description. The MVP program currently has 4,000 MVPs vs. 34 when it first started in 1993.

The new MVP program now has 10 categories (down from 36) for both IT pros and developers, with lots of focus on Microsoft's cloud platform. They include:

  • Microsoft Azure
  • Cloud and Datacenter Management
  • Data Platform
  • Business Solutions
  • Enterprise Mobility
  • Office Servers and Services
  • Windows and Devices for IT
  • Windows Development
  • Office Development
  • Visual Studio and Development Technologies

The cloud emphasis can be seen in the contribution areas within each of the 10 award areas. For instance, more than half of the Data Platform category is represented by Azure technologies.

Guggenheimer noted that MVPs have wanted to expand their communications more across a range of Microsoft product teams, and they have wanted to collaborate more with "field teams in local geographies." He said Microsoft is taking steps in that direction. Microsoft plans to honor MVPs based on their "contributions across technologies," he added. The company plans to stop its practice of honoring MVPs in just one area. The new structure has 90 contribution areas.

Microsoft issues the MVP awards, which likely will be changing in some cases with the new structure. For instance, Exchange MVP Michel de Rooij mused today in a Twitter post that he might now be known as an "Office Servers and Services MVP."

However, some of the old MVP award categories will still be maintained. Microsoft describes 18 categories that it is continuing, including Consumer Security, Windows Consumer Apps, Windows Experience, Windows Phone and Surface, among others.

Under the new structure, Microsoft plans to open up its Channel 9 portal to participation by MVPs for the first time. MVPs already are seen prominently at various tradeshow events, but Microsoft plans to expand their appearances at "regional events," as well as "having Microsoft evangelists join their MVP-created community events," according to Microsoft's description.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.