MVP Summit Next Week
Today, I've been reminding many people at work that I'll be out next week for the MVP Summit.
In previous years, the questions I've received in response have been mainly about "what's that?", "does that mean you work for Microsoft?", "what are you going to be learning about?" etc.
This year, the questions have moved on to "what kind of stuff do you get from that?", "are they going to give you a Zune?", "do you all get a new Windows Phone?" and so on.
While that would certainly be a really cool thing, I think it is worth pointing out that Microsoft's MVP programme is suffering from the credit crunch just as much as anyone. When I first joined, I can remember the hotel room I stayed in for the MVP Summit was huge - there was a phone in the bathroom, which was necessary because you had to call for a taxi to get to the bed. Now, we're expected to double up on room occupancy. Previous summits have been in Seattle at the conference centre, this summit is in Bellevue. As has been revealed in numerous places, there's no concept of "MVP Bucks" that we get to spend each year at the company store any more. Many of the program group dinners are now held in Microsoft cafeterias, nice though they are, rather than in restaurants and bars around the Redmond area.
So, no, I don't anticipate getting a Zune or a Tablet PC (but wouldn't it be funny if Steve Jobs were to offer us all iPads?) - though we might hear something about the much rumoured Zune Phone, if it really exists at all, but then we probably would be told to keep it a secret.
What I do anticipate is getting a look into some of the attitudes that are being brought to the design of Windows 8, IE 9, IIS 8, ADFS, etc. With luck, I'll learn something I can bring back not only to work, but also to readers of my blog, and to the newsgroups I still hang out in. [Occasionally I'll hit the web forums, but they're still too painfully slow and cumbersome to read and respond to on a regular basis.]
And that's well worth the price of admission.
Did I say there's a price to being an MVP? Yes, there is, and it is that you help the community of Microsoft customers. Because it's a retrospective award, and the criteria is based on something like "conspicuously more than others in the field", it's not really something you can evaluate ahead of time - and true to that, most of the MVPs would "pay that price" even in the absence of an MVP programme. It's just that with membership of the programme, it's a little easier to give the right advice.