I’ve just returned from the 2013 edition of the mostly-annual Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Summit. I say “mostly-annual” because Microsoft normally holds a Summit about every 12 months. The previous event was only 9 months ago, but for various logistical and product lifecycle-related reasons, they decided to return to the tradition of holding the event towards the end of the calendar year.
This year’s Summit was probably the best that I’ve attended in terms of both logistics and engagement from the product groups, at least for the sessions I attended. The transportation, housing, and events all ran very smoothly, with few delays and plenty of the delicious oversized cookies usually served in the afternoons. The product group mixer, which is an opportunity for each group of MVPs to mingle with various folks from their product teams, was nicely organized and well attended. I met a few Exchange MVPs I didn’t already know (such as Germany’s Norbert Klenner, Ratish Nair from India, and Damian Scoles from the US, a first-year MVP) and was able to spend time with many that I have known for a while, including Michael van Horenbeeck (whom Tony had previously christened “Michael van Hybrid”), Jeff Guillet, Michel de Rooij, Jason Sherry, my Santiago homeboy Jorge Patricio Diaz Guzman, Magnus Björk (now known as “Magnus Availability” after asking one too many questions about Managed Availability), J. Peter Bruzzese (who for some reason doesn’t yet have a snappy nickname; I am thinking that maybe “Mailbox Pete” would fit?), Siegfried Weber, Serkan Varoglu, and too many others to list.
The session content was generally excellent. Overall, the Exchange team did a solid job of both telling us about upcoming changes and improvements and asking for our feedback. There is a lot of exciting stuff coming in the recently-announced Service Pack 1, and from both the formal and informal discussions it seems clear that the product group has a clear vision of where they want to invest effort— product quality being one of the key investment areas— as they deliver new capabilities. Many of the sessions were held in a panel format that allowed full and frank discussion between MVPs— always an opinionated bunch— and the people responsible for designing and building Exchange.
Although the content was all 100% NDA, I think it will probably be OK with the NDA police if I close by saying that Navin Chand and the rest of the Exchange team have some exceptionally cool things planned for MEC that they will be talking about in the not too distant future. If you haven’t already registered I would give very serious consideration to doing so. Navin told me that there are more than 180 session slots available during MEC— compare this to fewer than 40 session slots allocated to Lync and Exchange together at a typical TechEd and you can see just how much more material will be available at MEC. What kind of material? Well, the Lync Conference team announced their session selections this week, and their conference is in February. If one were to extrapolate, one might assume that MEC will be announcing their sessions in January-ish given that the event is in April, so I think we’ll be finding out relatively soon. (Note that I don’t know the real dates, even under NDA, so this is just a SWAG).
My thanks to all the people at “big Microsoft” and in the Exchange and Lync product groups who worked to get content together for this year’s Summit. They set a very high bar for future events.