Microsoft Corporation informed its faithful MVP ("Most Valuable Professional") members that their years of hard work defending the company and providing free technical support were all for nothing when it canceled the MVP program suddenly. The MVP program was originally designed to reward Microsoft sycophants that provide peer-to-peer technical support in Internet newsgroups. However, like similar groups such as Team OS/2, customers have complained about the quality of this support and the unprofessional nature of some MVPs. In a letter to MVP members last week, Microsoft's Joseph Lindstrom said that the company was eliminating the MVP program due to "customer feedback": Microsoft's customers want support from Microsoft, the letter says.

The decision, effective December 1, 1999, was universally panned by MVP members, who were annually rewarded by Microsoft with approximately $1000 worth of free Microsoft products and a yearly gift of Microsoft-branded merchandise. The problem with this approach, of course, is that such a reward system attracts a younger crowd, who aren't necessarily the professionals Microsoft wants providing support. To label all MVP members as unprofessional or unqualified is, of course, unfair (and untrue): Many of these people have dedicated hours of time each day to helping Microsoft customers.

"The letter \[we received from Joseph Lindstrom\] is about the rudest one we could have expected," says MVP member Thomas Lee. "I've been supporting the public newsgroups for several years. To suggest that I am not a professional is beyond comment. Yes, we got some goodies. But I did it for the love of the product, not for the money."

MVP members that have not spent their "MVP bucks" on Microsoft products will need to do so by December 1st. Free MSDN Universal and TechNet subscriptions, another nice freebie worth about $3000, will not be renewed. ClubWin, a Microsoft-sponsored organization, is not affected by this decision