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What you need to know about the Microsoft MVP Award

Tags: Microsoft

Each turn of the Microsoft MVP award cycle raises many questions in the developer and IT Pro communities as to what the award is about, who gets the award, and why we have it. This post aims to answer those and other frequently asked questions.

About The Microsoft MVP Award program

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The MVP Website states:

"The MVP Award recognizes exceptional technical community leaders from around the world who voluntarily share their deep, real-world knowledge about Microsoft technologies with others."

Each quarter, selected nominees receive the MVP award for their contributions to Microsoft technical communities in the past year. One can become a Microsoft MVP by way of nomination process, and anyone can nominate someone for an MVP award. Nominations do not guarantee receipt of the award.

The Becoming an MVP page of the MVP Website gives some details as to what happens once someone is nominated for the award.

"To receive the Microsoft MVP Award, MVP nominees undergo a rigorous review process. A panel that includes members of the MVP team and Microsoft product groups evaluates each nominee's technical expertise and voluntary community contributions for the past 12 months. The panel considers the quality, quantity, and level of impact of the MVP nominee's contributions. Active MVPs receive the same level of scrutiny as other new candidates each year."

The panel consists of members of the MVP program with input from product team members and the field. The MVP program admins then invite awardees to participate in the MVP Award Program benefits for a one year award cycle. If the awardee accepts the MVP award, they must adhere to both a code of conduct and an NDA (a non disclosure agreement, which is a legally binding contract).

Here is what the award welcome gift looks like for 2012 (placard on the left, certificate on the right).

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There are some frequently confused sentiments about MVPs and the award program:

  • Obtaining the award one year does not guarantee or influence next year's decision. Much like the Grammy's or Oscars, or other awards, it's an award based on work in a particular area, for the previous year.
  • There is no prescriptive way or particular set of actions to become an MVP, since a prescriptive guide means it's a certification, not an award.
  • Open Source Software is not an award category, since awards are hosted by product teams. Contributions to OSS projects can be, but are not necessarily, taken into consideration for the award.
  • Criticism of Microsoft products does not disqualify people from becoming an MVP, nor does it cause MVPs to "lose their MVP".
  • The MVP award is not the result of a competition. One person never wins the MVP award in favor of another.  
  • The MVP award is not a membership or club.

Read the full set of FAQs here! If you're not familiar with the varying Microsoft awards, certifications, and other programs, it's easy to confuse them.

Certifications, Insiders, & Regional Directors Programs

Because programs like certifications are often confused with the MVP program, here is a quick rundown of Microsoft programs & certifications:

Certificationss: Microsoft certifications exist for nearly every active product. Certifications are 100% prescriptive, so there will always be an exam, lecture, or other set predetermined activities, that one must complete, while meeting a quality metric (i.e., a minimum score). Since certifications require exams, the certification candidate must pay to take the related exams, whereas there are no costs associated with receiving the MVP award. For more on MS certs, see the Certification Overview page.

Insiders: Microsoft maintains relationships with customers and partners of all types, from an individual contributor to companies and organizations. The ASP Insiders (and other insider programs) are Microsoft sponsored programs whose members participate in by providing feedback to ASP.NET, Visual Studio, or other product teams.

Regional Directors are trusted experts that Microsoft engineers in the field rely on for help with directing the best technical solutions for both the RD's and Microsoft's customers. Read more about RDs at the RD Home Page.

Summary

Congratulations to all of our new and renewed MVPs! Thank you all very much for sharing your expertise, experiences, and knowledge with the technical communities surrounding technology. I know many MVPs who get the award each year and it is because of their passion for Microsoft technologies, and a love of sharing their expertise.

The fine print:

MVPs, RDs, and Insiders, are not employees of Microsoft.

Previous to joining Microsoft, I had received the MVP award for multiple years, and also participated as an ASPInsider, and an MCT. I hold multiple certifications from Microsoft and other tech companies.

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