Saturday, April 19, 2008

Microsoft and You

I spent this week at MVP Summit representing you to Microsoft. I spoke to countless Microsoft developers, marketing, project managers and executive management about the things that drive you crazy. I used specific examples, representing the frustration and joy that you have experienced using Microsoft software. I explained what you like, what you don't like, and gave them a lot to think about.

MVP's are not Microsoft employees. So I have no reason not to tell them to stuff it when they come up with a lousy idea that would hurt your business and so I do. Ironically this is why they gave me this award. I'm their biggest fan and their biggest critic and I'm willing and able to support my criticism. Honesty, it turns out is a rare commodity these days. Fortunately Microsoft recognizes the value of it and so once a year they invite us to give them a dose. In between Summit's they practice constant contact. (well the good departments do anyway)

Summit works like this: From 8am - 6pm I sit in a small room with maybe 20 other people. Microsoft trots in 2-6 developers, project managers and executives every hour. They tell us how they fixed the issues that we've brought up and what they are planning to do in the future. Then it's open season Q&A. After 6pm we move to an informal setting, usually a bar and continue until about midnight. Then we get up the next morning and do the same thing. This goes on for 5 days straight.  At the end both my brain and body are complete noodles.

On the last day all of the world's MVPs gather in a very large room and Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, and Ray Ozzie, Chief Architect (Bill Gates replacement), get on the stage for an hour and take questions and criticism. Here's Steve Ballmer taking notes. Unlike a lot of exec's he's not taking notes so he can remember the question, he's taking note so he can remember the criticism or action that he needs to take on an item brought to his attention. Microsoft takes the input that comes from MVP's very seriously. I hope that I represented you well.

Steve Ballmer takes notes 2

I take this responsibility very seriously and my ability to gain the ear of the people creating the software that you use and depend upon to run your business everyday is one of the things that makes us unique in small business computer consulting.

Even so it's good to be home.



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