For the past 2 years, I have been a Windows Insider MVP. And for the past 4 years, in fact the entire lifetime of the Insider Program, I have been taking part – being an Insider in some way, shape or form.

After much consideration last year, and my general feelings towards the way things were going in both my personal life and at Microsoft, I have decided to retire from the MVP program. I did not put myself up for renewal, and rejected the nomination. As of Janurary 1st 2019 – I am no longer a Windows Insider MVP.

Now this choice was not easy to make. In fact, I spent a couple of months going back and forth. Debating with myself, my wife and even a close friend or two. The benefits of the MVP Program make it really hard to leave, and had I accepted the nomination and gone through with the process, I am pretty certain I would have been re-awarded.

So why did I make this choice? What lead me to this decision?

1. This year is going to be super busy for me.

This year I get my New Zealand citizenship. It’s been a long process since 2011, but this year is the culmination of everything I have worked towards for the past 8 years. I get to call myself a Kiwi, with all the benefits and responsibilities that entails. I am excited about it, and when it’s done, will have a huge weight off my shoulders.

In addition, this year we’re going to have two big international trips. First up is 3 weeks in Thailand in June/July and then later, some undecided time in Australia. These will need planning and coordination to get myself and people from 2 other continents to the same place at the same time, with an itinerary we can all agree on. I don’t know how much travelling you may have done, but planning trips is time consuming in the best way.

I would also like to spend more time focusing on my podcast, and maybe even starting another one. Or seven. This past year was a great year for it, getting over three thousand five hundred listens. (I typed the numbers out so they look more impressive). We’ve had really great fun on it, and 2019 is the year I want to really try turn it into something that earns each of us a little pocket money.

AND there will be concerts! This year is Slayer and Anthrax, and Judas Priest and Ozzy. All four bands helped shaped this genre of music I hold dear to me in one form of another, and to see them is really a dream come true.

Add to all of this, a snowboarding trip, working on my house, volunteering with SeniorNet – teaching the oldies about computers and the Insider Program – and tons of other personal goals, clich├ęd and all. You know – eat healthy, less time distracted, et cetera.

2. Microsoft’s direction

It started with Windows Phone, then Groove, and now watching Microsoft shift its focus away from consumers, focusing on business and cloud, along with a bunch of really stupid (in my opinion) decisions they have made, including de-prioritizing Cortana, killing Kinect and pretty much throwing their support behind Google with focusing on Android and Chromium.

Yes, Microsoft has moved from strength to strength with these moves but I can’t help but look at a bigger picture. With no Windows Phone and moving Edge to Chromium, Microsoft has shown it no longer cares about UWP. So why should the rest of the world? With no music services, how much longer will Microsoft see the value in other entertainment areas?

I remember watching //build/ a few years ago. Seeing Microsoft’s services tied together, seeing the bright future of UWP, seeing them build up an ecosystem to offer an alternative to Apple, that felt like the future. A future I wanted to be a part of. Windows Everywhere. A system I trusted to run my desktop, my laptop, my business, my clients businesses, my phone, my Xbox – what’s more forward thinking than that?

And now? No phone. UWP has been shoved aside for Win32 and even the really terrible PWA apps. Google has even more power, as it will now control over 80% of the browser and phone market.

I really feel that as a consumer/prosumer, Microsoft had a lot going for it, but dropped the ball in areas that mattered to me. This is all my opinion, so it doesn’t reflect on the great work going on with Azure, or the wonderful stuff the Office team is doing, or even the stellar work the Xbox team has been putting out. This is purely from the point of view of Windows and Windows Services.

3. The Insider Program Itself

Ah, the beloved Insider Program. When it started, it had such great potential. Watching the community grow out of it in the early days was amazing and something I will always treasure being a part of. It was fun. It was wild. It was exciting. Will this build break my computer? Who knows, let’s install it anyways! This feature is really great, and I have gotten so used to it, let’s go insider on my work laptop!

With the botched rollout of Windows 1809, and the botched rollout of 1803 and the bugs in 1709… Windows 10 confidence has plummeted. Both in business and even the little old ladies I help out on Saturdays. This has lead to many questioning what the Insider program is for, if not for finding these bugs. Are two updates a year too much for Microsoft – the biggest software company in the world?

Add to this features that are half done getting rolled out, only to be killed a few months later – hello People Bar – and you get the feeling that Windows 10 itself is not in a great place. Just look at the Dark Mode – not finished and yet Windows is now working on a Light Theme. It comes across as if there is no clear direction for this software. And all the feedback and ideas and concepts about how it should go, how it should look and how it should operate, almost seem to fall on deaf ears.

There are other reasons, such as the way Insider MVP’s are seen as not real MVPs, the super cliquey nature of the Insider Program and just a general feeling of my feedback not being heard.

I am more than happy to leave the New Zealand branch of insidering to Paul and Adam. I know they will do a fantastic job of it, and I couldn’t think of anyone better suited to continue Insidering the hell out of things. Seriously, these guys are awesome and deserve a follow.

So I have decided to stop. My heart is no longer in it. I accept the company that I have followed and enjoyed helping is changing. Personally, I do not like or agree with those changes, so I will step back. I thank everyone who was on this journey with me for the past two years – it’s been a ride and a half!

The end?

Well no. I still love tech. I still love where things are going. And as long as Windows remains the place that I can game, listen to music, write my nonsence thoughts, work efficiently, have the best OneNote experience (on my Surface), the best Office experience, and customize to my life-flow, it will always have a place in my heart. And on my machines. Who could ever go Linux? Yuck!

This year I also want to focus more on Azure. The product and community are growing in a lot of exciting ways, and I would love to be given half the chance to help out there.

Special thanks to Joe Camp and Tyler Ann – without you two, the Insider MVP Program wouldn’t exist. You guys are the best.

Happy New Year!
A year full of changes, experiences, opportunities and possibilities.