Microsoft celebrates 20 year anniversary of its MVP program

Remember when CompuServe was a major online service? While that business crashed and burned when the Internet era started in the late 1990s, CompuServe's forums were once a place where many people gathered to talk about technology and other matters in the early 90s.

One of those users was Hawaii resident Calvin Hsia, who created a program that showed which of the forum posters on CompuServe wrote the most. The list was known as the "Most Verbose People," and it got Microsoft's attention, but in a good way. The people on the list, including Hsia, became Microsoft's first members of its community-driven Most Valuable Professional (MVP) program 20 years ago in 1993.

Today, Microsoft announced that the MVP program now has 3,800 community members, who try to help customers who have questions for over 90 product lines. The company held its annual MVP Global Summit in Redmond, Washington this week.

Marking the occasion, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said:

For 20 years, the insight and feedback from the MVP community has helped drive and shape Microsoft's product advancements ... The contributions that MVPs make to technical communities is invaluable, and I deeply appreciate their passion as well as all that they do for our customers."

And where is Hsia, the creator of the original MVP list, now? He got hired by Microsoft a year after the MVP program started and is now a senior software development engineer on the company's Visual Studio team.

Source: Microsoft | Image via Microsoft

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There are a lot of different product groups at Microsoft, and they have many different levels of interaction with their respective MVPs. I went from being a Networking MVP to a Windows-IT Pro MVP, and while there are difference in how Microsoft has communicated with us over the years, I'd say that's more due to the increased number of ways we can communicate, versus having a few limited options (ala CompuServe) twenty years ago.


Aryeh Goretsky

A good idea on paper, but badly managed in practice. Microsoft's poor communication with its own MVPs makes it very hard for them to properly inform end-users. For instance no XNA MVP knew the official word about XNA until just last month; for 2 years Microsoft let its users guessing about the future of that technology.