User Groups and Community

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Announcing some key changes to the way Microsoft supports User Groups

Announcing some key changes to the way Microsoft supports User Groups

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As you may know, I'm a senior marketing manager at Microsoft and I focus on technical communities and how Microsoft can support them better. I want to give everyone a heads-up on some important changes we are making in conjunction with Culminis which are designed to bring improvements across the board in how Microsoft supports user groups and how user groups and their members interact with Microsoft.


First, let me make it clear: Microsoft regards the “grass roots” User Groups as a core community in the development and delivery of our business software and development tools. No community is more important. We engage with literally millions of User Group members around the world on an ongoing basis. This gives us invaluable insights into what IT Professionals and Developers really want and really think. That, in turn, helps give you great software and resources, not to mention great times at events like TechEd!


We are always thinking about how to improve the ways we work with and support communities around the world. In that light, we are excited about some changes we’re making with Culminis that I believe will help the community tremendously. I’d love to hear what you think, so please comment away…


Culminis has been a tireless champion of the IT Pro community for several years now. INETA has done the same for the developer but with a purely volunteer organization. We think that each model has its benefits, and together with the Culminis management team we have decided to make the following specific changes: -

  1. Culminis will become a volunteer-based organization, very similar to INETA, with regional boards.
    • The initial board appointments will be selected by Microsoft and the Culminis company.
    • The initial board will be in place for only one year, and will then be replaced by members elected by the community.
  1. Microsoft will directly provide the following “core services,” many of which are currently delivered by Culminis.
    • Event Support
    • Community Development
    • Content Delivery
    • User Group recognition and reporting
    • Newsletter support.
  1. The core services will be available to the new volunteer Culminis community and INETA as well as other associations such as PASS. We think this is particularly advantageous to the community as a whole, as it ensures that Microsoft support is available to all User Groups and not just IT Pro groups.


These are some fairly significant changes, and they aren't all going to happen overnight - we expect it to take a couple of months or more before the new structure is fully in place. Please watch this blog for updates as things progress!


And don't forget - I really do want your feedback on this - please feel free to either add a comment to this blog or to email me directly at

  • I Don´t understand this changes in the world.

    In Brazil, Groups of the Culminis is very good !!

    The Groups save my life in the job, conversations to solve problems and high quality events in portuguese language throughout the country(and not small!).

    why the change in the Brazil ? Change in the rest of the world but not in the Brazil Please !!!

    I´m an user of this comunity and I Work in a bigger company in Rio de Janeiro - Brazil, the Fortaleza technical support view the same lecture that me in Rio de Janeiro.

    The distance of the cities is 2805 KM.

    This initiative helped us directly in my company.

    Please review the changes on Brazil, each area has its particularity.


    Obs.: Sorry for my English

    Petrus Gomes

    MCP,MCSA e MCSE 2003.

    MCTS Windows Server 2008.

  • Minha especialização é Telecom, mas participo/trabalho com o grupo para melhor desenvolvimento e associação de tecnologias TI e Telecom. Atualmente ando com dificuldade, sem tempo para contribuir com o meu grupo, mas acompanho o trabalho dos grupos desde antes do CULMINIS, noto atualmente que através do apoio direto do CULMINIS, os eventos estão sendo produzidos com um melhor nível/conteúdo, e está sendo permitido aos líderes uma melhor integração entre si, o que proporciona um excelente retorno para a MICROSOFT e ao CULMINIS. Além do que, o BRASIL deve ser melhor observado pela MICROSOFT, porque após este crescimento em investimento tecnológico e de acesso a Internet, a área governamental e alguns setores industriais e empresariais, estão fornecendo apoio ao software livre, para retorno imediato de baixo custo de risco financeiro, com sistemas operacionais. Sendo assim é muito bom fazer uma análise mais detalhada, antes de qualquer decisão.

  • Translating Thiago Freitas's comment:

    Are you thinking this is the top Marketing move of the year? We feel that Culminis is closest than Microsoft. I'm not saying that we don't have Microsoft support... but Culminis have showed to be more available and cooperative.

    The community is getting higher in a exponential way, in the academic environment and in the professional environment and that shows me 3 power points: quality software, marketing events and academic support.

    Quality Softwares is unquestionable the quality that Microsoft have claimed by it's production. In relation to events, I see more cases where people have to pay from their own money to organize the events and Microsoft earns a lot with these efforts... and recognize some. In relation to academic support, although with a direct channel, sometimes there are no funds. How to solve the successful initiative's problems?

    I see Culminis as a "Great Support", because they are close, always help... and for these reasons I'm a Culminis Speaker, because I know the seriousness of their activities.

    I believe that after all the job done just a little slap in the community's back (similiar to "just to say thank you"), or even with more beautiful job titles will not solve problems we have...

  • Translating James Jefferson's comment:

    I think it's very praiseworthy this attitude to turns Culminis in a volunteer institution, but this model doesn't work very well here and I don't like the idea to decentralize Culminis, firing highly skilful employees that have been payed to support our groups and put some "indicated" people that will do a "volunteer" job. Up to now, in particular, always I needed any information I was immediately answered with no burocracy. Will it continue so fast and practical like we have now?!

    I'm in favor of it continue like it is, because if it will go in another way, it will in favor of what in Brazil we call "petty politics", where not always people who should deserve that job title are there and others, that have no character and even competency areb there just because they were indicated.

    We don't change a winner's team.

    I'm Leader of the first Culminis Developer's Group of Piaui and recently we were winners of a monthly Culminis survey, what will help us to organize an event with a higher level, getting funds to organize events in Piaui is very hard and with Culminis this pain was healed, because we have a direct channel with Culminis, the way it is, we will loose this channel and we will not have the guarantee that these deliveries will be so clearly like it's done today, independent of the Brazil's region, with ALL groups with same rights.

    James Jefferson de Sá Silva

    Leader of Floriano Cell.Net Academic Cell

    Leader of FlorianoCell Developers UG

  • Translating Celso Ramos's comment:

    My specialization is in Telecommunications, but I participate/work with a user group for my best develpment and technology association in IT/Telecom. Actually I have difficulties, no time for contributions for my user group, but I always observe the user group work, since before CULMINIS, my perception today is that with this direct support from CULMINIS, the events are organized with a better level/contect, and Leaders are having a better integration between them, what brings to an excellet feedback to MICROSOFT and CULMINIS. Besides, I think Brazil have to be better observed by MICROSOFT, because after this investment in technology and Internet access, the govern and some industrial and business sectors are providing support to Open Source, to a fast return of a low cost financial risk, with Operating Systems. So, I thnk you have to analyze it in details before any decison.

  • I'll write my personal comment in Portuguese, and after, in English.

    Vou escrever meu comentário pessoal em Português, e depois, em Inglês.

    Assim como Dave Sanders, sou Microsoft MVP na melhor categoria que existe, a de pessoas: Customer Experience.

    Isso nos dá a possibilidade de estar em contato com Líderes de Grupos de Usuários de todo o mundo e portanto, me ajuda a entender algumas coisas.


    * Pessoas da América Latina (não só no Brasil) trabalham muito mais com a emoção;

    * No Brasil, a maior parte dos membros dos Grupos de Usuários são estudantes ou iniciantes;

    * No Brasil, à medida que o profissional vai evoluindo, ele vai abandonando o Grupo. Isso deixa os Grupos de Usuários brasileiros com cara de coisa de estudante, dificultando o patrocinio;

    * No Brasil, as pessoas que abandonam o grupo o respeitam, mas não tem mais tempo para eles.

    Microsoft no Brasil:

    * Ajuda muito a comunidade, mas claro, dá mais atenção a um menor grupo, devido aos resultados.

    * Trabalha em parceria com a Culminis para tentar ajudar a todos, onde o trabalho da Culminis é feito de forma a equalizar o trabalho a todos.

    * Se não estou engandado (as pesquisas de MVPs e com parceiros podem confirmar) a relação da comunidade com a subsidiária brasileira é a melhor do mundo em integração/interatividade.

    Culminis no Brasil:

    Finalmente chega uma organização internacional que vai apoiar os grupos maiores e menores de uma mesma forma, dando-lhes atenção, apoio financeiro, orientação. E creio que no resto da América Latina esse também seja o sentimento.

    Tentei mostrar estes fatos acima para justificar a reação brasileira neste blog.

    Infelizmente existem lugares onde o sentimento e os fatos são diferentes.

    Quando eu fui convidado para ser o representante no Brasil, pergunta que fiz à Vicki foi: "Os diretores são multi-culturais? Eles conhecem os outros países? O que funciona em um pais talvez não funcione em outro" (lembra disso, Vicki?).

    Isto que está acontecendo com a Culminis já era previsto e eu já havia comentando com algumas pessoas.

    Infelizmente aconteceu um ano antes da minha previsão.

    Amigos (líderes), calma.

    Eu não sei o que vai acontecer, e acho que ninguém sabe 100% o que vai acontecer, mas tenho certeza que a intenção é boa.

    Como sempre, contem comigo.


    Like Dave Sanders, I'm MVP in the best category that exists, people: Customer Experience.

    It gave us the chance to be in contact with User Group Leaders in all world, and it helps me to understand some things.


    Latin America people (not only in Brazil) work a lot more with feelings;

    In Brazil, most part of User Group members are students or beginners;

    In Brazil, in proportion to the progressing of the ITPro, he leaves the User Group. It causes the impression that a User Group ia a "student thing", making hard the mission of getting sponsors.

    In Brazil, people who leaves the User Group still respects it, but have no time for it.

    Microsoft in Brazil:

    * Helps the community a lot, but of course, gives more attention to a small group, due to results.

    * Works in partnership with Culminis to try to help all groups, where Culminis responsability is to equalize the effort to all groups.

    * If I'm not wrong (MVPs and partners surveys can confirm) the relationship with community with the Brazilian subsidiary is the best of the world in integration/interaction.

    Culminis in Brazil:

    Finally an international organization comes to support big and small User Groups in a same way, giving them attention, financial support and guidance. And I believe that is the feeling for all LATAM.

    I tried to show these facts to justify the Brazilian reaction in this blog.

    Unfortunately there are places where the feeling and facts are different.

    When I was invited to be the representative in Brazil, the question I did to Vicki was: "Does the directors have multi-culture mind? Do they know other countries? What works in a country, sometimes can't work in another" (remember that, Vicki?).

    What is happening with Culminis was predicted and I already talked about it with some people.

    Unfortunately it's happening one year before my prediction.

    Friends (leaders), take it easy.

    I don't know what will happen, and I think nobody knows 100% what will happen, but I'm sure that the intention was good.

    As always, count me in!

  • I think that's important to notice one point : Here in comments there are user group leaders and user group members from Rio de Janeiro (RJ), Brasilia (DF), Fortaleza (CE) and Floriano (PI).

    Four Brazilian states separated by big, very big distances. That's just the beggining.

    Like Emilio said, the intention seems to be good, but the change is being done without a multi-culture mind.

    I can garantee to you, with my experience seen how microsoft supports user groups here : this will not work in our country and will destroy the best support we have.


  • É incrível... mas sempre que as coisas estão dando certo aparece alguém e diz o contrário. E pior ainda, consegue mudar tudo... E lá vamos nós ficar mendigando apoio mais uma vez. Isso pq temos uma série de eventos para organizar durante o próximo semestre, conforme a própria Microsoft diz.

    Botando lenha na fogueira..!!! Será que existe o incômodo com a competência em organizar eventos que nós temos, inclusive aliados ao Culminis?

    Luiz Pena

  • Hello, I am Marcel Luis Freitas, leader of the group of users request. First group of users of rondônia, north of Brazil.

    I would stress that our region to be "less evolved technologically suffers discrimination and a great difficulty in getting support for events of technology companies and organizations.

    The Culminis came to remedy this problem by creating a direct channel of communication and access to businesses, professionals and organization. Making a very import for connection to show the seriousness of work performed by the groups.

    We know that empty bag not for standing that is, several other organizations that had only volunteers in their directions without any kind of income just weakening.

    In my concern is also the same for several other colleagues for an unconscious way the resources end up being targeted to groups with greater influence, thus creating a fight and an even greater difficulty for groups that are starting and that has no influence dental organisations.

    The culminis in its current model is on meeting the needs of groups without discrimination and favorecimentos.

    I am sure that would be an irreparable loss if this happens and these changes are brought forward with the same opniao not favourable for leaders who promote the dissemination of technologies microsoft only by the pleasure of help ..

    Marcel Luis Freitas

    The head of the Group Request


  • Olá a todos!

    Há cerca de 2 anos fui convidado a participar do Road Show Culminis & MVP's, que estava acontecendo em diversas cidades do Brasil e aqui no Rio de Janeiro. Foi quando tive meu primeiro contato com pessoas da Comunidade, pois até o momento só participava de listas de discussão. Após assistir todas as palestras, inclusive do Emílio Mansur, que fez a abertura, fui até o próprio Emílio e conversando com ele, senti que era exatamente aquilo que ele estava fazendo que eu gostaria de fazer também.

    Hoje, após dois anos de atividade na Comunidade sendo lider de um dos maiores grupos do país, com ligação com outros grupos no estado e fora do Rio de Janeiro, fui nomeado em 1º. de abril de 2008, como MVP na categoria Windows Desktop Experience, e credito esse título ao trabalho que tenho realizado com o apoio da Culminis.

    Através da Culminis e mais precisamente do Mansur, posso afirmar que sem o apoio da Culminis e da iniciativa da mesma, a Comunidade de Profissionais e Usuários do Brasil não seria tão grande e tão proativa.

    Para completar temos seguido o conselho dado pelo próprio Emílio Mansur quando preparamos algum evento: Parcerias com empresas, CPLS e outras instituições, e óbvio como apoio da Culminis.

    Acredito que todo processo de mudança, seja complicado de compreender, mas acredito também que o trabalho desses grupos serão respeitados e mantidos.

    Abraços a todos,

    Alexandro Prado

    MVP Windows Desktop Experience

    Grupo MS-InfraRio & MSRio.NET

    Grupo Code4all

    Grupo WITS Brasil

  • Adding 2 more Brazilian states here, São Paulo and Rondonia, so now there are 6 Brazilian states complaining, 4 of the 5 Brazilian geographic regions.

    If you stop in a corner and start to watch a trafic sign changing from stop to go and back to stop after some months or years doing this you will be able to identify different light intensity, moments when the signal will fail, the difference in time of each state on diferent hours in a day and so on. You will also be able to predict when that signal needs to change lights and if one change in the duration of each state would work or not.

    In this case you may not understand all the trafic jam in the rest of the city, but in that corner you are the best person to be asked for about any change.

    The history repeats itself. It happens because young people without experience in one area repeats the same mistakes already done by others. Do you need to put your hand in the fire to discover that it burns ?

    When some kind of answer to our complains appear, I'm sure it would say "You didn't understant, the support will not stop, will be done directly by microsoft now".

    The point is that all of us know that giving this task to Microsoft Brazil or Microsoft Corp. is one thing that will never work. We watched the traffic sign long enough to garantee that this change will not work in our corner.

    This change is being done without any research about our corner. Another thing that you will say is "every group technology needs the same support, not only IT ones!" but you even noticed that in our corner every technology group : IT, Dev and SQL, are supported by Culminis.

    Do you really need to put your hand in fire and loose an entire country to discover things that all of us already know ?

    Maybe Brazil isn't a so important country for Microsoft...

    Dennes Torres


  • Hi all ,

    from the above comments it seems to me that Culminis only existed and supported to the Brazil or in other words Culminis was culminating the user groups in Brazil. This is not fair.

    Let me give you my example. I'm struggling to run the user group here. Culminis only supported by word to me that's it. And the latest example is that couple of months I asked Culminis RD for the support and he showed me the hope by saying this and that......supprt with cash money... which never ever happend and finally I had to speak to the Microsoft and they supported me.

    Where is Culminis ...? I just hear this word.. that's it. When I send them one email I get the reply in a week or so. No communication from the Culminis since they moved their operation from EMEA.

    I heard Culminis happend only in the USA. I heard Culminis RD moving around the world round the clock but never found any support from Culminis. ,,,, why?

    When we talk globally we should think globally. Maybe this change could impact the Brazil UG but it will help the other regions. So if the UG were happy with culminis then I'm sure they will be treated same with the Microsoft and Microsoft can help better UG around the world.

    What I feel is that the poeople in the Culminis who were looking after the LATAM or Brazil were dedicated and sincere to their job unlike our region and thus we have many complains.

  • Core Services, em fim foi um ótimo desenvolvimento para quem trabalha com a microsoft, pricipalmente palestrando em outros estados, espero que melhore cada vez mais para assim a Microsoft ver que o Brasil tbm está muito contribuindo com o lado deles... e disponibilizar todo valor possivel para algo que a invista!

  • Hi, Adnan !

    Sure your region needs better support !

    But the better support can't be achieved taking out the support for other regions and that's what is happening.

    Isn't Microsoft aware of difference in cultures of each region ? A glogal solution will not work.

    Look at this paragraphs in my last comment :

    "When some kind of answer to our complains appear, I'm sure it would say "You didn't understant, the support will not stop, will be done directly by microsoft now".

    The point is that all of us know that giving this task to Microsoft Brazil or Microsoft Corp. is one thing that will never work. We watched the traffic sign long enough to garantee that this change will not work in our corner. "

    You just did exactly this "You didn't understand, who will support you now will be Microsoft!". We understand, we understand very well to know that this means that we will have zero support, comparing with culminis support today.

    So, if your region needs better support - and as you say, it needs - change the way things works in your region, not globaly.

    Don't believe in the mistake that Microsoft will work the same and give the same support for all user groups in the world. Here we know that's not true.


  • Nesses últimos dias percebi que a Microsoft esteve fazendo uma grande besteira, cortar o Patrocinio da Microsoft com a culminis, até porque antes de fazer algo devemos analisar bem antes que façamos algo errado, vejamos que a Microsoft não esteja olhando o lado do Brasil e deu demissão ao Emilio Mansur, um ótimo Rapaz!!!

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