It's no secret that I'm a Microsoft MVP. One of the great benefits of this is the chance to attend the Microsoft MVP Summit in Redmond, WA -- and that's exactly what I did last week.
For non-MVPs, you may have seen tweets and photos of MVPs having a lot of fun, but it doesn't seem like a very substantive event. This is a false impression. The reason is that much of what goes on at the Summit falls under NDA (which is the "non-disclosure agreement" that we all sign), so we're not allowed to talk about it.
What I can say is that there is a lot of cool stuff coming. Fortunately, we'll get to hear about some big things this week (Nov 12 & 13): http://www.visualstudio.com/en-us/connect-event-vs.aspx. This is definitely something to look forward to (and I can't wait to talk more about my favorite stuff after it's announced).
[Update 11/14/2014: If you missed the live event, you can still experience it. The link will take you to recordings from both days. So you can still get in on the announcements and demos.]
What I Like About the Summit
There's a lot of stuff going on at the MVP Summit. MVPs from all over the world converge in one spot for a week. Here are the things that I find most useful about the event.
Talking to Other MVPs
I spend as much time as possible talking to other MVPs. It's great to have breakfast with new people and talk to people from other disciplines. I'm a Visual C# MVP, but I had a chance to talk to folks who specialize in Excel, Access, and Office 365. Hearing about how some people are using Office 365 and Azure to get businesses running in the cloud is really cool.
Also, the MVP community is like a family. There are a couple of folks who I haven't seen since the last summit (mainly people from overseas). And we continued conversations like we were old friends. In addition, I met a lot of new people. And you never know who you might end up hanging out with. I started up a conversation with someone on Monday, and ended up talking again at lunch, dinner, and game nights throughout the week.
(I won't list all of the people I talked to because I'm afraid of leaving someone out. I had good conversations with probably about 30 people and had shorter encounters with about a dozen more.)
Talking to Microsoft Folks
Another great part of the event is talking to people from the various product groups at Microsoft. One of my MVP friends set up time to talk to people from product groups that he doesn't normally interact with. He did this because he had some concerns about particular behavior in a product. Since everyone is all in one spot, people from the product teams are open and willing to meet with you.
And this is very interactive. The people from the product groups really want to hear what the MVPs have to say. They see us as a primary conduit to the community at large, so they value our opinions -- whether it is talking about new language syntax, how a new feature is exposed in Visual Studio, or concerns about a proposed technology.
I won't give any specific examples because I'm not exactly sure what's under NDA and what's not at this point, and I tend to error on the side of caution.
Hearing About New Stuff
And speaking of NDA, we also get to see a lot of preview stuff at the Summit. These are the things that you might hear MVPs get excited about but can't say anything. (You might have seen a lot of people recommending the Microsoft Connect event on Nov 12 & 13 -- http://www.visualstudio.com/en-us/connect-event-vs.aspx -- There's a reason for this.)
There's big stuff coming, and Microsoft gives us a "head start" so that we can be ready to start blogging, shipping code samples, and talking about the new stuff as soon as it is publicly announced.
I'm honored to be a Microsoft MVP. It's awesome that Microsoft has this program to recognize the people who are active in the community (for me, it's the developer community, but there are communities around other products as well).
The MVP Summit has given me access to meet MVPs from around the world, make a lot of new friends, talk to the folks at Microsoft who are making decisions on the next versions of products, and learn about what's coming soon.
And even though you only see the "family reunion" parts on the public side, there's a lot more going on that we're not allowed to talk about. For MVPs, it's an opportunity not to be missed.