YES, Microsoft Supports the Community.
I recently (4/24/03) went to the Windows Server 2003/VS.NET 2003 Launch in Fort Worth. This event was different for me than past Microsoft Launch events that I’ve been to as this time I wasn’t just an attendee, but an exhibitor as well. I’m currently the Vice President of the Fort Worth DOT Net Users Group (FWDNUG) and the booth space was offered to the FWDNUG gratis courtesy of the Microsoft South Central District. Actually, Helena Kjellander-Valentin (South Central District Field Marketing Specialist and the best Microsoft Events Coordinator), emailed Greg Kane (FWDNUG President) and myself out of the blue and offered the space to us. Greg and I jumped at the chance for such good exposure and we were not disappointed. The launch ended up with ~750 attendees and we signed up 50+ new users to the FWDNUG database, with many more promising to sign-up later via our website. Our average meeting size is around 20-30 people and we’re excited at the chance of doubling our membership size. Many attendees commented that they did not know there was a Fort Worth Users Group and they were glad to know they did not have to make the long drive to the Dallas Dot NET Users group any longer. I’d rate the launch a qualified success for the FWDNUG– all thanks to the community building efforts of Microsoft. If only I wasn’t ineligible for the prizes due to my status as an “exhibitor”. Oh well, you can’t win them all J
This is only one example of Microsoft supporting the community. Helena and Brian Moore (Developer Advisor for the Developer Strategy Group of the South Central District and Developer Extraordinaire) provide support for the FWDNUG every month. Every month we have received a copy of VS.NET EA and several books as door prizes, Brian is a past presenter at our meetings, and they sponsored our February meeting when we were fortunate to have Rob Howard as our featured speaker. And the provide the same support to the DDNUG – even holding their meetings in the Microsoft Conference Room. Brian and Helena – I hope your bosses stumble across this – your assistance to the FWDNUG has been invaluable and has gone way above and beyond anything we would have expected. I know that our group would not be as successful and prosperous if it were not for your gracious help!
That is why I felt compelled to write this entry - I’m tired of hearing the constant negative slant about Microsoft. Do I expect Microsoft-Haters to suddenly change their minds? No. Do I think Microsoft is the perfect company that hasn’t made their share of mistakes? No. But, what I do ask is that the next time someone feels compelled to bash Microsoft for lack of community support that they look at the facts first – that Microsoft DOES support the community.
One need only look at the ASP.NET team for further proof. You’ve probably already visited www.asp.net and chances are that you’ve used Web Matrix, the ASP.NET Forums, and visited or built a site based on the Starter Kits. What do they all have in common? They’re all FREE! Yes, you heard that right – the greedy, corporate giant Microsoft is providing free help and products! You can even email the ASP.NET team members directly, ask them questions, and actually expect a response in a reasonable amount of time. I know first-hand that supporting the community is a goal of the ASP.NET and it shows. And don’t forget www.windowsforms.com, www.gotdotnet.com, and www.ineta.org for more proof of Microsoft sponsored community building.
Heck, I’ve even shared development stories over a beer (or two or three) and played many a night of XBOX with Microsoft employees. In the end, they are just like you and me.