Feeds

Microsoft axes free newsgroup support team

The customers have been demanding less support, apparently...

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Boost IT visibility and business value

Microsoft is pulling the plugs on its Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs) support system, according to a 'so long, and thanks for all the fish' email sent to MVPs by company director of business development Joseph Lindstrom last week. The system, which will end from the beginning of December, used volunteer MVP labour to provide free newsgroup-based support via newsgroups. According to Lindstrom's email Microsoft will replace it with a programme "in which technical newsgroups are staffed by Microsoft support professionals." The switch has raised the ire of soon-to-be-former MVPs, who have provided valuable free support for Microsoft customers, and who are (were?) to a considerable extent Microsoft loyalists. Lindstrom's explanation for the change is vague and not entirely convincing: "Each year, Microsoft customer participation in the newsgroups has grown and we expect this to continue. Due to customer feedback and requests for more direct Microsoft involvement, we are changing our newsgroups strategy." 'Customer demand' is an MFUE (Most Frequently Used Excuse) round at Microsoft Towers, but although you can probably accept that customers wanted more MS participation in the newsgroups, it's difficult to credit that they've been voting to have the MVPs taken out and shot. Lindstrom says the switch will increase customer contact with Microsoft support, and "to respond to customer requests for... guaranteed response times." This isn't quite the same as achieving guaranteed response times, and also ominous is his statement that "Microsoft will redirect their investments previously made in the MVP Program to the newsgroups overall and driving customer awareness of this valuable resource." That implies Microsoft won't be putting extra resource into newsgroup support, and with the demise of free labour, it'll probably mean a decline in the level of that support. MVPs have been rewarded by Microsoft, but the resources expended on them seem to have been largely a matter of internal accounting. They won't get any more "MVP bucks," and will have to spend the ones they've got before the end of November. Any MVP-related MSDN and TechNet subs they have won't be renewed, and their MSN accounts will be terminated at the end of November too. One of the most bizarre things about the matter is the fact that Microsoft has dumped its loyal volunteers at a time when, by its own admission, it is trying to figure out how to respond to the volunteer efforts of the open source movement. As Peter Boulding, of Peter Boulding Associates, points out in an open letter to Lindstrom, "Professional/high-end users of your products will lose out badly from the reluctance of MVPs to continue to provide free support for a company that's just kicked them in the teeth. Since you abandoned the supply of genuine manuals, the MVPs have provided an *essential* resource without which your competitors' products appear an increasingly attractive option to such users." So why has Microsoft done it? The explanation is likely to be a combination of bean-counting and control-freakery. In the long run giving away free support (even if Microsoft itself isn't picking up much of the tab) undermines Microsoft's own ability to charge for support. And as Microsoft intends to turn itself into a service company, we can't have that, can we? Nor indeed can we have the free support being better and more responsive than Microsoft's own paid-for varieties. Not being able to police the way the support is supplied, and what the MVPs tell the customers, will also have been a big problem for Microsoft. If the gospel goes out at all under the new regime, it will undoubtedly be the gospel according to Redmond - will there be a prize for the first "Microsoft support professional" who says "support contract"? ®

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.