Microsoft plans to close the more than 2,000 public newsgroups and 2,200 private newsgroups devoted to its various products and services. Discussions hosted on those newsgroups will be ported onto Microsoft Answers, TechNet, MSDN and presumably other company forums. Microsoft argues that the newsgroups were running on an outdated forum and that the additional features of its other forums will better support users. Microsoft has been aggressive about eliminating legacy programs and services over the past year.
Microsoft will start closing the more than 4,200 public and private
newsgroups related to its products and programs, beginning in June, and porting
those discussions to Microsoft forums such as Microsoft Answers, TechNet and
MSDN. Microsoft argued that the
newsgroups run on "an outdated and discontinued forum that is no
longer supported," and are thus vulnerable to spam and other problems.
"Currently, Microsoft hosts more than 2,000 public newsgroups that
cover virtually all of our products, along with more than 2,200 private
newsgroups that reach specific audiences including Certgen, SBSC, Partner
Programs, MVPs and Direct Access, among others," said the
announcement on Microsoft's Website.
The shutdown and move to Microsoft
forums, the company added, "will centralize content, make it easier for
contributors to retain their influence, reduce redundancies and make content
easier to find."
The company also said community participation in its newsgroups declined 48
percent over the last fiscal year, while visits to its Microsoft forums were
increasing at a monthly rate of 12 percent. In theory, the forums will also
allow Microsoft to add new features and connections between groups as the need
arises, and moderators will be able to bring threads to Microsoft's attention
if necessary. Microsoft Answers, TechNet and MSDN will host the new audiences.
"In order to communicate this transition to all of our newsgroup
members, we will begin a phased approach to this shutdown, focusing first on
newsgroups with minimal traffic," a Microsoft spokesperson wrote in a May
4 e-mail to eWEEK. "Reminders that newsgroups are closing will be posted
in each newsgroup well in advance of its closure with guidance for moving the
conversation to a Microsoft forum and sharing links to forums covering similar
discussions in newsgroups when possible."
More information about the process can be
newsgroups have traditionally been a place for customers to talk through
problems and voice their dissatisfaction
over issues, and doubled as a way
for the company to troubleshoot its various programs.
However, forums such as TechNet have increasingly come to the fore for such
uses. During the summer of 2009, for example, users began posting complaints
about the battery life of the Windows 7 beta running on laptops; that
eventually contributed to Microsoft's
investigation of the battery issue
following the operating system's Oct. 22
launch. Websites such as TechNet also present a channel through which Microsoft
can offer downloads and information on new products.
Since 2009, Microsoft
has aggressively culled a number of legacy products,
many of them aging
software programs such as Encarta, at least partially in response to a retooled
corporate strategy that focuses energy on flagship products such as Windows and
Office. However, it has also killed online services such as MSN
Groups, a section of the MSN network devoted
to community pages and message boards, which was shut down in February 2009 to make
way for Windows Live Groups.