Microsoft’s marketing group has again made a great blunder. As if the Seinfeld/Gates commercials weren’t enough they apparently felt that their MVP program is up for grabs. Sadly, a lot of MVPs didn’t disagree.
Apparently, someone at Microsoft decided to stage a mass “I’m a PC!” video opportunity during last week’s MVP Summit in Redmond, and it is being spread to various media as our endorsement of them.
I’m proud to be a member of Microsoft’s MVP program. It’s one of the greatest support achievements of any large company and has been a great opportunity for me as well. Basically, MVPs are recognized by Microsoft for their participation in various communities, helping others with Microsoft products. We participate in newsgroups, post on online forums, blog about products, write articles and more, all with the intention of helping other users. The majority of us is in computer or IT-related fields but not everyone.
My acceptance into the program was for helping folks connect Macs to Windows Server but that has since changed to helping them with Microsoft Entourage, Remote Desktop Connection for Mac or generally any kind of interoperability between Macs and Windows.
One of the covenants among MVPs has been our refusal to let folks think we are evangelists for Microsoft. Remember, we have been awarded for our help with others, not hired to help them. We do get a lot of perks for being MVPs but that doesn’t stop us from telling anyone that Microsoft’s products may have serious flaws or that their products may simply not be the best solution for his needs.
The video embarrasses me because in just a few seconds hundreds of MVPs are shown chanting the “I’m a PC!” slogan, which is the antithesis of Apple’s Mac campaign. In one fell swoop hundreds of my MVP colleagues have basically allowed themselves to be seen taking sides in the supposed Apple/Microsoft product wars. Microsoft staged an opportunity to take advantage of the excitement of the moment and turn their entire MVP program into a gimmick.
In response to one fellow MVP who didn’t see the problem with this I had the following to say:
In all the past several years of discussions I’ve read in these private newsgroups I can’t count how many times I’ve read things like “MVPs are independent” and “MVPs are not evangelists”. But I can’t think of one instance, until yours now, where any of us has had a problem with that thinking.
The MVP program isn’t about Windows, Windows Server, Exchange, SQL, Silverlight, Live, Internet Explorer, Office, XBox or any other product. It’s about recognizing and rewarding those who help others with Microsoft products.
The fact that someone at Microsoft staged this “surprise” angers me. MVPs knew something was up beforehand but had no idea what. For the price of admission those attending the keynote were subject to participation in a marketing gimmick that doesn’t fairly represent the program nor who we *all* are. For the excitement of the moment, in my opinion, MVPs forgot who they were.
For the record: I am most definitely not a PC!