Censored Blogging

As a consultant, I sometimes found it difficult to write about some of the work I was doing because of non-disclosure agreements. Things only got more complicated when I started working for Microsoft, and although there were a handful of evangelists and technologists out there blogging and creating videos (Robert Scoble was among the Microsoft masses, at one time), it was still largely a misunderstood activity, and writing about your work was viewed as inappropriate or against policy in most groups. I was even quoted in the Wall Street Journal at one point on a topic completely unrelated to technology (it was something on leadership development) and was read the riot act by my manager and by legal for talking to the press.

What a difference a couple years make, where I work for a company that fully embraces the explosion in social content and platforms, and supports my writing efforts. They will readily admit that they don’t always understand what I do, but they do see the unmistakable results and are huge supporters as a result.

While I am back under NDA with Microsoft on anything to do with the next wave of Office and SharePoint products (Wave15, to be exact), that’s the price of getting behind the scenes access as a SharePoint MVP. Like my fellow MVPs, I am chomping at the bit to share what I know, and to correlate features and business applications in vNext to my experiences within SharePoint 2010….and even to 2007. It’s almost funny how some conversations go in certain circles, when you’re not sure what you can discuss.

     "Some of the limitations in how that feature is managed has been an
      issue for me. I’m looking forward to exploring this more in Wave15."

"Do you know if this is going to be resolved in Wave15?"

     "Um, are you an MVP? I guess I should know that, but I don’t. Are you?"


     "Ok, are you in the TAP by chance?"


     "Or maybe PEP, or some other customer product council type thing?"

"No Sorry."

     "Um….nice weather we’re having."

Talk to anyone from Microsoft — anyone who has been there a while, been there through a couple major release cycles, and they’ll likely tell you how much more hush hush things are. In a company that prides itself on widespread dogfooding of its next gen applications, feedback on just what will be under the hood in the next version of SharePoint has been very closely held. Some folks have gone through initial documentation posted by Microsoft outlining the APIs, but even from what can be gleaned from those docs, there could still be massive change in the end product.

The MVPs are a vocal crowd. The DL for members of this community is constantly buzzing with best practices, questions, scoping out of partially developed features or concepts, and evisceration of any new decision (or rumor of a decision) of the SharePoint product team and Microsoft management. And the level of access given to the SharePoint MVPs this time around has been unprecedented. I can’t speak to prior releases as I’ve only had my MVP award since January, but I keep hearing that this last MVP Summit was clearly the best yet due to Microsoft’s transparency and the level of access they’ve given us.

So here we are, still talking about SharePoint 2010, gearing up for the next big release. I have a number of things I’m exciting to start writing about, and have been working on a book that should be ready for release just prior to the SharePoint Conference in November. Looking forward to breaking the silence.

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and M365 Apps & Services MVP, and an award-winning product marketer and technology evangelist, based in Silicon Slopes (Lehi), Utah. He is the Director of North American Partner Management for leading ISV Rencore (https://rencore.com/), leads content strategy for TekkiGurus, and is an advisor for both revealit.TV and WellnessWits. He hosts the monthly #CollabTalk TweetJam, the weekly #CollabTalk Podcast, and the Microsoft 365 Ask-Me-Anything (#M365AMA) series.

4 Responses

  1. b says:

    Why would those arguments not apply to Windows, Windows Phone, new hardware, SQL Server, and so on? Why is it that competitors gain so much more benefit from early knowledge of Office and SharePoint upcoming features, markets where Microsoft completely and absolutely dominates, compared to the other markets, where there actually is some competition?
    Your argument also works in opposite; by not saying what’s coming, customers looking for more and better features will look elsewhere because they don’t know what will come next from MSFT.
    The main difference is that there is no real competition and Microsoft has no incentive to care about customers because they have nowhere else to go. For Windows, they can, and increasingly do, get a Mac. Microsoft needs to save that market from extinction so they announce Windows 8 over a year ago with the first beta shortly after. For Windows Phone, they really have no market at all, and they need to get into the market, so they announce Windows Phone (or at least leak enough information to keep everyone informed). Same applies to other markets.
    So, who’s the real competition to SharePoint and Office? Google Apps? Incidently, one of the very few ‘leaks’ about O/SP is that there will be a new Office Apps server. With Notes effectively gone, there really isn’t any viable SharePoint alternative out there, so Microsoft can milk the market without concern for revenue loss.
    I see this all the time and have this spring especially; clients sit on the fence not wanting to invest because they don’t know if their investment is flushed down the toilet in a couple of months.
    I’ve also answered a range of other reasons here:

  2. I do think they are very different markets — Windows and Office are different competitively. SharePoint would suffer much more greatly than they would from details on vNext details slipping out too early, impacting sales of the current version.
    Most ISVs hold their product roadmap and next version feature list very close. It’s as much about competitors as it is about current sales. People won’t buy if they’re sold on the next version….even if it won’t be generally available for months (or years). And why give your competitors marketing material in which they can develop targeted campaigns, months ahead of your release, by giving them the inside track on what you’re delivering?

  3. Sbc111 says:

    After working for several major Fortune 200 companies over the past two decades – I can emphatically state that most companies do not like their individuals to blog or make similar public announcements. Now, there are legal ramifications for certain industries like Healthcare and Financial Services as both are governed by strict regulations like HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley respectively. Some companies don’t want to disclose the technologies being utilized for competitive reasons (thus limiting an individuals’ disclosures in LinkedIn profiles while under employment).
    In today’s current sensitive political climate – some companies are quite sensitive to political affiliations: for example, I had to get permission from Senior Management to buy the $10 Cookbook published by Ron Paul’s wife.

  4. b says:

    Personally, my main beef with the policy is not whether you as MVPs accept to keep mum, but why there’s a need to keep information secret at all. If you look at other divisions of Microsoft, information is readily available, in markets that are far more competitive than Office and SharePoint.
    With a three-year product cycle, of which one year is “learning as fast as one can” and one year is “nobody knows what’s around the next corner”, SharePoint gets a very limited scope for when it is good business practice to invest.