My Biggest Disappointment at the MVP Summit

I’ve just come home from spending the last three days in Redmond at the MVP Summit. For those who might not be aware, the Summit is an annual event that Microsoft hosts for Most Valuable Professionals (MVP). The MVP designation is given to people who have contributed in a positive way to the community through speaking, blogging, answering questions in forums or organizing user groups and conferences at the local level. At the Summit, the various product groups get the opportunity to demonstrate some of the futures for their products in order to solicit feedback. The chance to meet and talk with product group members is actually one of the main benefits of being an MVP to me. They are people who are passionate about the code they write and who love to hear about the good and the bad.

However, the futures that are being discussed are really that. We’re not talking about what’s going to be in VS2010. The feature list for that has been set in stone for a while and is generally well known. Instead, we’re talking about what might be coming in the next version of Visual Studio. Or Silverlight. Or ASP.NET. Or Data Programmability. These futures have not, for the most part, even been designed much less coded. So to talk with us about this, MVPs at the Summit (and, indeed, all MVPs) have to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). This means that we cannot discuss with anyone outside of the MVP community what we have seen and heard until the information becomes public.

Today’s technology, combined with the outgoing personalities of MVPs makes this restriction a challenge. Normally when I’m at a conference, I’m live blogging the session that I’m in. Or I’m twittering my schedule. Can’t do that here. It gives me itchy fingers, but the NDA is taken quite seriously. Even the code names for various projects are considered NDA, a problem for the person who unthinkingly twittered one while in sessions on Monday.

So that inability to share is my biggest disappointment. Not an unexpected one (I’ve been to the Summit before and am under NDA constraints constantly), but still a source of sadness nonetheless. But let me just say that I’ve already written some blog posts that will be published once the details of the products are made public in the near future. Hopefully that little tidbit of foreshadowing won’t get the NDA police on my trail.