I just got back from attending my first MVP Summit and have to say the level of access we received to the product teams and other people within Microsoft was outstanding.
Since this was my first Summit, I don’t really have a frame of reference to know how it compares to previous years, but it did quickly become apparent to me that Microsoft really does listen to community as much as they are able. Obviously some groups and products are better able to do this than others, but that seems to be mostly due to where they are in the product lifecycle.
Going beyond the obvious technical and product information we received, the opportunity to network was equally impressive. With almost 1800 MVPs from around the world I was able to meet people from across the pond and locally, some of whom I already knew from online communities like The Code Project and GeeksWithBlogs. The closing keynotes by Ray Ozzie and Steve Ballmer were less presentation and more direct question and answer periods. I’ve seen Steve Ballmer present before but never in this type of setting and with the amount of candor he displayed.
Closing the Summit (and showing the real strength of the MVP community), what started out as a Florida MVP Geek Lager quickly turned viral with Twitter tweets and blog posts until approximately 75 (that was the last number I heard, but I left early) MVPs from around the U.S. (and I believe some other countries as well) descended on Kells Irish Restaurant & Pub (kudos to the bar staff that night, they did an incredible job keeping up with everyone!)
Next year’s Summit has already been confirmed for March 1 - 4, 2009. I’m already starting to look for flights.