Sunday, November 16, 2014

My first Microsoft MVP Summit experience

I got to attend my first Microsoft MVP Summit earlier this month in Redmond, Washington. This is a huge benefit of being a Microsoft MVP. Approximately 1,500 MVPs from around the world attended the summit this year, which is an invite-only event.

Microsoft invites its MVPs to not only share news about upcoming stuff from the Redmond mill, but also to gather feedback and hear about what the community expects to see from Microsoft - the MVPs being the ears and eyes of Microsoft around the world inside the community of users who use Microsoft products everyday.

This year, I hear, was bigger and better than the years past. Microsoft hosted a MVP showcase on Sun, Nov-2 where MVPs from different technology groups showcased the stuff they've been working on. There were even some Microsoft teams like the Surface, Azure and Office who were showcasing their products. The main sessions for the summit started on Monday. Microsoft provided buses to and from all the official summit hotels to the main campus and also shuttled around the MVPs from one campus building to another as different sessions were being held in different buildings. One of the biggest benefits of hosting the MVP Summit on the main Microsoft campus is that we get to meet all the different product teams and interact directly with them. Another big benefit is being able to meet and interact with other fellow MVPs, who are all smart and highly regarded people in their respective field.

If you didn't know already, I was awarded the MVP status earlier this year in what is now the Windows Platform Development expertise, which meant I attended the Windows Platform Development related sessions for the most part. While I cannot talk about what we discussed during the sessions, as it is all under NDA - yes, all MVPs have to sign a NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) with Microsoft in order to be eligible to attend the summit as a lot of not-yet publicly known information is shared during the sessions - I can tell you that we all live in exciting times! Oh, and during one of the sessions I saw an image of myself popup on the screen which made me smile...check it out for yourself below, I am the second one from the left.

Microsoft using my photo in their presentations

The main sessions, side sessions and one-to-one feedback sessions continued till Thursday, but I don't want you to think that it was all talks and no fun. We started out on Sunday with a Product Group event where we all got to split into teams and participate in an The Amazing Race like city-wide fun-run in Seattle. Monday evening we had team dinners, though it left a lot to be desired from a dinner perspective and lot of us had to hunt for food elsewhere. All was redeemed on Tuesday evening though, when the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, had a private talk with the MVPs followed by dinner. Wednesday evening saw the official MVP Summit Attendee Party at Fremont Studios in Seattle which was a fun social event with enough food and drinks to cater to all along with some karaoke.

Alas, all good things come to an end and with the Summit sessions over on Thursday, it was time for me to get back home. But along with me I brought back memories of some great sessions and great conversations I had over the period of the last 4 days. I got to meet so many folks that I had only interacted with virtually over the Internet via Twitter, Email, LinkedIn, Microsoft forums, etc. before the summit.

Here's hoping that I get to live another day (get to attend another MVP Summit that is).

Paras Wadehra
Microsoft MVP
Twitter: @ParasWadehra