Microsoft calls time on Windows Insider MVP program

Unwavering loyalty and devotion rewarded with termination

Microsoft has decided to axe the Windows Insider MVP program, which is now scheduled to be discontinued at the end of the year.

A Microsoft spokesperson told The Register: "In an effort to consolidate MVP-style programs across Microsoft, we have decided to retire the Windows Insider MVP Program effective December 31, 2023.

"All our existing Windows Insider MVPs will be nominated to participate in the Microsoft MVP Program which has similar benefits and opportunities to continue networking with us and interacting with many other Microsoft MVPs globally."

The change comes on the heels of significant reorganization within Microsoft. Former Windows and Devices supremo Panos Panay abruptly quit in September, and it is difficult to avoid suspicion that the termination of the Windows Insider MVP program is a related consequence.

Panay was understood to have become disillusioned amid cost cutting at the Windows + Devices division he has run at Microsoft since 2020, and is now running the Devices and Services business at Amazon.

A Microsoft MVP, speaking to The Register on condition of anonymity, expressed regret that Microsoft was closing down what they described as "a valuable consumer resource."

They added: "It's sad that Microsoft's flagship product will no longer have an MVP community around it."

The Windows Insider MVPs are usually enthusiasts of Microsoft's wares who are rewarded for their loyalty with access to the engineering teams, complimentary subscriptions to products such as Visual Studio Enterprise and Office 365, as well as the odd paperweight or two.

A nomination must come from another MVP or a Microsoft employee to achieve this coveted status. An application is then scrutinized, and if one has demonstrated sufficient passion for all things Microsoft, the nod is given.

Microsoft has plenty of Insider programs where users can play with pre-release versions of the company's software. Think of it as an army of unpaid testers. MVPs are similarly unpaid – other than the perks – and instead frequent the company's forums to dispense wisdom and advice, thus saving Microsoft from having to actually employ someone to do the same.

The Windows Insider program is one of the older projects of its type and recently celebrated its ninth anniversary. Headed first by Gabriel Aul then Dona Sarkar, the program is now led by Amanda Legowski. It has floundered in recent years, with members complaining about a distinct lack of exciting features to test during the Windows 11 era.

Although the Windows Insider program shows no signs of going anywhere – and we're sure Microsoft wants retain its wider army of free testers – ditching the Windows Insider MVP status is a worrying sign. If rewards for loyalty can be revoked with little warning, the company might find itself having to deal with users directly. ®

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