Microsoft Launches Community 'Hive'

Microsoft this week unveiled a new online resource designed to bring together leaders in the Windows community and open the lines of communication between the company and its evangelists. The Hive is Microsoft's latest community outreach effort, which is designed to help bring the back the buzz to Windows.

With no new Windows release since 2001 Microsoft has essentially gone underground as it prepares Longhorn for a debut in 2006, only opening its doors to select developers. Community leaders have largely been left in the dark, Microsoft admits, and says it needs to do a better job of listening to its constituents.

Unlike MSDN Channel 9, which centers around developers, and Microsoft's academic-oriented The Spoke, The Hive focuses on consumers and getting the word out about what's going on within the Windows Group. Members will receive insider news and information, and be able to share ideas with others.

"We all collaborate to share tips, tricks, and tools of the trade. The Hive is exclusively for online community leaders passionate about technology that works on Microsoft Windows and sharing it with others. The Hive is your way to stay in the know and get great content to take back to your community—plus it's free to join," reads The Hive Web site.

At the moment, The Hive only contains forums for community leaders to connect with each other, but Microsoft plans to add more features in the coming months. File sharing, blogs, an event calendar and chat are on the list of slated improvements.

The site is currently beta, Microsoft says, and members will have a large impact on how it evolves. Josh Levine, group product manager with Windows client communities, notes that The Hive is not a marketing effort and is more akin to Microsoft's MVP program.

The Hive isn't open to everyone; only active community leaders that run Web sites or mailing lists with 50 or more members may join, although Microsoft says some exceptions are possible. To encourage participation, the company will be awarding prizes until July 31, 2005.

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