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June 25, 2022

How I lost my Windows Insider MVP Award

As of Sunday, July 1st 2018, I am no longer a Windows Insider MVP. Funny thing is, it has been clear already for over 10 months. The reason is simple: I committed a cardinal sin and openly criticized the Windows Insider program. That is, as an MVP team lead made clear to me in a private Skype call, absolutely not tolerated.

It’s a really long story, so here’s a somewhat shortened version:

As you might know, MVP awards are based on nominations. You can nominate yourself, or you can nominate another person you think is worthy of the award. To nominate someone for an Windows Insider MVP (WIMVP), go to this site: https://insidersurveys.windows.com/s3/Windows-Insider-MVP-Nomination and submit the form. When awarded, the award is up for renewal once a year.

Nominating myself does not go well with my general philosophy, but other people have nominated me for MVP some half a dozen times. None of the previous nominations led to anything, but in March 2017 the person nominating me was a well known Windows security expert with global fame, well known by Microsoft and well connected with them. I was curious to get this quite famous person’s attention and asked about the nomination:


Click to open enlarged in a new tab.

The specific reply I had posted on TenForums.com referred in the answer to me shown in the preceding screenshot is here: https://www.tenforums.com/windows-updates-activation/79930-update-shutdown-still-updates-boot.html#post968086

Somewhat surprisingly, this time I received an email from WIMVP team about my nomination going to next phase and was asked to fill a form about my online activities, views for my posts and tutorials and links to them, and so on. On 1st of July 2017 I got an email telling me that I had been awarded the Windows Insider MVP. Less than six weeks later I made a cardinal mistake. I publicly criticized the Windows Insider program.

Until end of April this year, when clicking a Feedback Hub link, the page users are taken asked “Not yet using the Windows 10 Anniversary Update?” Although you and I understand what it means, I was contacted by a few newbies telling “Look, Microsoft clearly does not recommend updating beyond Anniversary Update (W10 version 1607) as shown in this screen”. I tweeted this, four weeks into my WIMVP preiod:

Especially the wording “Not yet using the Windows 10 Anniversary Update?” seemed to confuse some not too advanced users. During the next few weeks, I was contacted by even more users about the same thing. As I had received no reply, I tweeted again:

Around the same time I had tweeted this:

There was this tweet of mine, too, regarding the Windows Insider program lead Dona Sarkar‘s way of signing all official Windows Insider blog posts with the slogan “Hustle-As-A-Service”:

It might be that you native English speakers see the word hustle differently, but to me and most non-native English speakers it only has negative connotations. Check it: Dona signs each and every post on Insider Blog with “Hustle-As-A-Service”https://blogs.windows.com/windowsexperience/tag/windows-insider-program/

Of course I can understand Dona might take this personally. She thinks she’s found a good joke, and finds it very amusing and funny. Anyone not understanding that joke will be considered as being against her. This kind of thinking comes with the territory for people somewhat too sure about themselves. Yet, I simply can’t understand why she wants to identify herself and Windows Insider team as hustlers? What’s funny about it?

OK, let’s continue. These four out of my 2,000+ tweets lead to Dona Sarkar and a few other notable players blocking me on all social media:

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A WIMVP without access to the Insider team lead’s posts, because of four fact based tweets. Nice!

Next thing I know, I received an email from Microsoft (WIMVP team), referring to those tweets of mine about why they hadn’t changed the wording on page you get when clicking a Feedback Hub link. In screenshot my reply to original email:

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In the Skype for Business meeting with the person who sent the preceding email, I was informed that criticizing the Windows Insider program and especially its lead is not acceptable, and will absolutely not be tolerated at all. I promised to “behave” and stopped open criticism, so it was just these four tweets that were the apparent problem. However, it was clear already by then, August 2017, that my WIMVP award would not be renewed when it was up for renewal in July 2018..

Change was immediate. I stopped getting any responses from the Insider team. The MVP feedback in Feedback Hub is prioritized, but I have never gotten a response to my feedback.

Not sure if you geeks remember it but when Insider program was announced, this was how it was described. I was thrilled to read this (quote from Insider Blog, its first post ever on September 30, 2014 by Terry Myerson) :

Tomorrow, we are excited to announce the Windows Insider Program, where PC experts and IT Pros can get access to a technical preview of Windows 10 for desktops and laptops. Soon after, we’ll also be releasing technical previews of Windows Server and our management tools.

With the Insider program, we’re inviting our most enthusiastic Windows customers to shape Windows 10 with us. We know they’re a vocal bunch – and we’re looking forward to hearing from them.

The Windows Insider Program is intended for PC experts and IT pros who are comfortable using pre-release software with variable quality. Insiders will receive a steady stream of early builds from us with the latest features we’re experimenting with.

Sadly, the Insider program led by Dona Sarkar has changed to a playground. Developing Windows and getting serious feedback is hidden under a coat of ninja cat and taco hat jokes. No criticism is allowed nor tolerated. In their last webcast, the first 20 minutes were spent just joking around without any serious, to the point topics. The webcast before that started half an hour later than announced, without a single member of Insider team caring to join the discussion to tell that they were running late. When that webcast started, the first thing Jason as speaker did was to put taco hat on and joke about it.

I miss the time when Gabe Aul was the head of Insider program and I could trust that information coming from Insider team was factual, focused on content rather than ninja cats.

I was up for renewal, and had to send a video to the MVP team to be considered to get my MVP renewed. The deadline to send the form and max 3 minute video was at midnight on last day of April. I had decided not to submit the renewal form and video as it was clear that I would not be renewed, but changed my mind and started to record the video a few hours before midnight on the very last day. To be precise, as the clock in video shows, I started to record the video about hour and a half before the deadline.

Here’s the 3 minute video I sent to Microsoft to apply for MVP renewal:


To make things official, I received this email on Friday, June 29th 2018, a few days ago:

Click to view enlarged in a new tab.

End of story.

I am still as passionate about Windows as ever. I am a Microsoft fanboy in general and a major Windows 10 fan in particular. I still make Windows tutorials and videos and try to assist as many users as I can, all on a voluntary basis. Nothing has changed since my nomination and getting the MVP award, except that I have been more critical. I still recommend that each of you IT pros join the Windows Insider program, just try to get past the ninja cat and taco hat jokes and concentrate on the essentials, however difficult it sometimes is. It is of course somewhat difficult because you have to keep in mind that all support ends if you voice any concerns or criticisms.

This is what happens if four out of your 2,000+ tweets are criticizing Windows Insider program.

Take care geeks!




Author: Kari Finn

A former Windows Insider MVP, Kari started in computing in the mid 80’s writing code for VAX / VMS systems. Since then, he’s worked in a variety of IT positions. He specializes in Windows image capture, customization, repair and deployment as well as Hyper-V virtualization. Kari is a proud Team Member at number #1 Windows site TenForums.com.

15 Responses “How I lost my Windows Insider MVP Award”

  1. July 24, 2018 at 14:33

    It’s hustle not hustlers. You might be right with the meaning issue. I don’t know either side but at first glance, hustle as a service, to me, is a good thing. I took the meaning as, “hurry up” as a service.

  2. July 24, 2018 at 14:41

    You are most probably right Derek in saying that I misunderstand that expression. In that case, I would have expected them to correct me, a non-native English speaker. In that case I had gladly deleted the “offending” tweet.

    Instead, this tweet in question was one (out of four from my 2K+ tweets) causing Dona Sarkar to block me which already made it clear my MVP would never be renewed.

  3. July 24, 2018 at 17:24

    Kari, when they make you an MVP you are being included closely as a collaborator to staff. If you were a full employee, would your tweets not land you in HR or terminated?

    Sour grapes don’t taste good. /jim

  4. July 24, 2018 at 18:43

    James, I fully understand your point. Anyway, let’s say that a person directly employed by Microsoft had posted those four tweets. He’d been reprimanded as I was on that Skype call I mention in the post, and on that call that person had promised to behave and do not publicly criticize employer anymore. Do you honestly think that Microsoft had fired that employee anyway?

  5. Paul S
    July 24, 2018 at 18:47

    I feel you man, that sucks. Don’t let them bring you down; keep up your good work on tenforums.

    Out of interest, what email client are you using in your screenshots? Since Microsoft are introducing ads in the Windows 10 Mail client, I’m currently looking for an alternative. At the moment I’m considering ‘eM Client’ as it looks really nice, but don’t think I’ve come across whatever client it is that you’re using.

    Official link BTW, not making it up:

  6. July 24, 2018 at 18:59

    Thanks for your kind words, Paul!

    As email client, I am using Outlook from Office 365 suite. I have used Microsoft Office and Outlook since I got Office 97 20 years ago. It’s still the best email client (or rather Personal Information Manager) I have ever tested. Mine comes from an Office 365 Enterprise E3 subscription.

  7. JM
    July 27, 2018 at 21:15

    I took the term “hustle-as-a-service” to be a play on words of the currently trendy term “side-hustle.” A side-hustle is a side business you run either during break periods, after-hours, or sometimes on-the-job if it doesn’t impact your main employer. My first understanding of the phrase was not positive. I took it to mean “swindling-as-a-service” or more likely “self-promoting-through-company-channels-as-a-service.”

    I found this definition online:

    The actual understanding of the term seems non-existent beyond being a cool kid buzzword. Their definition for “hustle-as-a-service” seems to be “post a lot online so people know who you are and that builds relationships.” This is, at best, tangentially similar to the definition of a side hustle.

    Some criticism: Your 3 minute video did you no favours in keeping your WIMVP, it would’ve only made it less likely they’re reinstate you. That said, with the current social media culture once you’ve been excommunicated you stay excommunicated. They wouldn’t have reinstated you regardless.

  8. After what I've read, I'm much too afraid to give my real name
    July 30, 2018 at 14:39

    I, too, was surprised when I saw the «Hustle-as-a-service» tagline.

    This is what came to mind: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rT0T6ErJEJU

  9. Anonymous (and with good reason)
    July 30, 2018 at 14:42

    I, too, was somewhat surprised when I saw the «Hustle-as-a-Service» tagline.
    This is what came to mind when I think of hustlers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rT0T6ErJEJU

    It does make me think that Microsoft only wants toadies as MVPs.
    I have more respect now for those MVPs who dare to break the Party line.

  10. Gutt Pile
    July 30, 2018 at 16:22

    Microsoft’s various programs and conferences have been a cobbled together cluster f over the last few years and its obvious they no longer care about their customers. The dead linking of 20 years of connect kb articles being the latest insult. Not even getting into the collapse of the build conference. I was a long time MVP, MCT and pretty much abandoned them all. The benefits are few and dwindling and the treadmill only continues to be ramped up and now you get to deal with thin skinned SJW style bs.

  11. frankqrgmailcom
    July 30, 2018 at 16:24

    I have to listen to the two side versions of this incident to give an impartial opinion. For all I know, that is, for Kari’s version. It seems that Dona tried an abusive control response. Abusive because she holds a higher hierarchy level and she is abusing its power o get rid of “the obnoxious Kari”. It is not a very pleasant way to exercise leadership. I probably would have handled this problem differently; But again I can be very wrong. Anyway, I took a look at some of the pictures of Dona! SHE IS HOT!

  12. BD
    July 30, 2018 at 17:14

    This is when you discover that the program awards people who help market the product, any bad publicity is not good marketing.

  13. One of the reasons why there aren't more women in IT
    July 31, 2018 at 08:14

    … Anyway, I took a look at some of the pictures of Dona! SHE IS HOT!

    This is one of the reasons why there aren’t more women in IT. No-one would ever have said that about a man.

  14. Dave Murray
    August 3, 2018 at 13:52


    As a native English speaker I would be very surprised to see “Hustle as a Service” on official communication from any company, there is no definition of the word that makes it a good thing. Even the “hurry up” meaning you ascribe to it is not as innocent as you think because it implies rudely pushing people out of the way in the process. From the OED:


    1 Push roughly; jostle.
    ‘they were hissed and hustled as they went in’

    1.1 Force (someone) to move hurriedly or unceremoniously.
    ‘I was hustled away to a cold cell’

    1.2 Push one’s way; bustle.
    ‘Stockwell hustled into the penalty area’

    2 Obtain illicitly or by forceful action.
    ‘Linda hustled money from men she met’

    2.1 Pressure someone into doing something.
    ‘don’t be hustled into anything unless you really want to’

    2.2 Sell aggressively.
    ‘he hustled his company’s oil around the country’

    3 Engage in prostitution.
    ‘she would hustle for a few dollars’

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