Microsoft is killing off its newsgroups and encouraging users to move to forums instead. The software giant has over 2,000 public groups covering its various products, as well as 2,200 private groups for the likes of Microsoft resellers. But from June 2010 these will be moved to revamped forums on TechNet, MSDN and Microsoft …
but i think it's going to have a bit of a backlash from the crusty old, Usenet is the only real internet, crowd.
Oh, don't be a hater
Usenet is still far superior to any "web forum" I've seen so far, and that's a few, for the simple reason that accessing it requires a modicum more intelligence. That and for the superior flexibility, accessibility, and yes, retention. Whatever mister Oates may have understood, a good feed regularly has much longer retention times than 90 days, not counting binaries groups, and enough crusty old people run their own feeds with indefinite retention periods for those groups they're actually interested in. And then there's dejagoogle if you're desperate enough.
In that view, micros~1 moving away is more or less comparable to aol moving off usenet. Self-respecting crusty old usenet users should rejoice. Yes, it'll be quieter, but the signal to noise ratio can go up again, making it a true "geheimtipp" for hanging out. Without hordes of pimply youths and other people that cannot be arsed to or plain cannot spell and won't even notice if their caps lock key is stuck on again. Or that insist on posting in html or dumping all sorts of unrelated other crap in the message they're wanting the rest of the world to read, preferrably in the form of dancing rodent animations. On "web forums", that's considered a feature.
Now google, on the other hand, is doing very evil things indeed trying to "own" usenet. Not surprising micros~1 doesn't like google profiting via advertising next to "their" support forums, now that it is trying to play google's game.
And it means that news comes to me, I don't have to go and visit forums and cope with their poor UI and the lack of proper threading and, well, the ability to use the newsreader of my choice.
Not even old enough to be crusty and old...
But as someone who's watched the continuing transition from usenet to web forums with irritation, I find this depressing. I don't make much use of it anymore, but it's still a superior tool for the purpose.
We gave up client control, and all we got were pretty fonts and crackhead smilies.
Thank you AC!
I'll miss the Microsoft news server, make no doubt about that. Some of the newsgroups they hosted were very good, with experts and MS-MVPs alike*.
Crusty or not (on Usenet since late 1997, so I'm going to say "not"), I don't understand why everyone wants to move to these asinine, half-baked web forums. Those who think a web forum has better retention are kidding themselves--and have you noticed how many web forums leech from Usenet anyway?
* yes, that's the "dig" you might think it is. I've known a few MS-MVPs who are actually very good at what they do. If you're an MS-MVP and it makes you feel better, consider yourself one of them.
Deja Vu and Beyond
So, Microsoft have finally cottoned on to the fact that Google profit on all ad-clicks made during newsgroup archive accesses. Seems they think competing with Google Groups is a lost cause, so they're putting all their tech discussions in googlebot-blocking forums instead.
With Microsoft served adverts. (And later, maybe, subscription-only access?)
Good luck to them. And the users of Microsoft tools.
Back in the days when I was working as a support professional at Microsoft, when call volume was low, we were happy to be able to log some working time reading and answering the newsgroups and hence avoid a slap on the fingers at the end of the month.
I guess restricting support to the forums will also allow MS to have tighter control on how much time the support folks actually spend helping users in there.
To be fair
I find the forum response to be very fast and quite helpful, makes up for terrible MSDN documentation !
usenet becomes a cleaner, sweeter smelling sanctuary
The problem with forums is
that they don't always work well if topics digress and split. The tree structure of new groups means you could follow parts of conversations and not others.
When forum topics grow they become so unwieldy and since most are date ordered it can get very hard to follow conversations.
Very few forums offer a tree structure and I think it's a shame. In normal conversation people tend to split off into subgroups to discuss things and so should forums.
Even those few forums that do offer a tree structure don't seem to offer an 'Ignore subthread' function. That's very useful in reducing the noise.
Microsoft started killing the newsgroups years ago
Actually, Microsoft made their first attempt to kill the newsgroups years ago. The notion of free support has always been anathema to them. How dare ANYONE share ANY knowledge that Microsoft could even potentially at a PROFIT?
Unfortunately for Microsoft, the first attempt on the newsgroups was so clumsily handled that it created something of an uproar and Microsoft had to back down. The ruckus involved the MVPs that Microsoft was exploiting, so after that the long-range strategy was first to suck the life out of the MVP program, which was eventually in a sufficiently zombie-like status to make this 'transition' smooth.
Much of the demise of the newsgroups in general is not Microsoft's fault. I'd actually say that most of it was due to abuse of anonymity and the state of perpetual September in the Web. However, I do believe that it might have been possible to save the newsgroups--but only IF the big players like Microsoft had been interested in pitching in. Unfortunately, there was no RoI there, so now we have RiP.
(By the way, Google is also strangling the newsgroups from the other end. There motivations seem more ambiguous and hard to interpret. Perhaps just another example of the general creeping evil of Google?)
Hello, technology calling....
"Forums also last longer - newsgroup posts were typically deleted after 90 days."
Who deletes newsgroup posts? Nobody, that's who. It's all down to your usenet provider's retention. Mine has about 300 days. If MS can only afford 90 days, they need to make some more money...
While on the topic, I don't want forum posts to last a long time anyway. The amount of chaff in with the wheat these days is ridiculous. Recently trying to find out something about jailbreaking a 2G iPhone with a recent version of OS was a nightmare because of millions of posts from a couple of years ago explaining all the old methods to do it. All of which are now almost completely irrelevant because it's damn near impossible to revert to such an old firmware/OS.
If it's a valid explanatory web page, then fine, keep it up, but forum posts by idiots from 3 years ago asking stupid questions really need to be culled.
A Forum is a Novel Innovative Hoovering Point for Future Honey Pots/MetadataStars. And also Independent Civil CyberSpace Launch and AIMission Control Facility and Virtual Bridge.
MS have been trying to kill usenet as a channel for information about their products since the mid 90s. They want absolute editorial powers which brings us to crucial features of usenet that no forum can offer:
1. No single entity can single-handedly censor usenet content.
2. Decentralised storage. Anyone can keep their own archive of all or selected newsgroups if they wish, and there's always somewhere else to go if content is accidentally deleted on one server.
These facts are unfortunately not known to the average internet user, most of whom hardly knows that usenet exist. Usenet has been a powerful weapon against totalitarian regimes and cults in the past. Human rights and free speech activists should support usenet more.
Usenet with a good client beats any forum any day. Every decent ISP should at least provide a decent text-only server. Usenet without all the binary garbage is no resource-hog.
I say this is rather disgraceful, indeed.
Although on second thought these are only MS-operated groups, so I don't really give a damn. It's some serious weight loss, but most of interesting hierarchies are operated privately by diehard Usenet enthusiasts anyway, so Usenet doesn't really need MS.
Only MS-operated groups?
The microsoft.public newsgroups are propagated to newsservers worldwide. MS doesn't control the content on any newsservers except the one it operates itself, msnews.microsoft.com.
The microsoft.public newsgroups are great resources for a large number of MS products. If you don't use them, then you'd likely not know that they are so good. But they aren't good because of MS, but because of the volunteers who spend the time posting there (of whom I'm one).
Any coincidence that ...
Cox Communications is shutting down their usenet services in June, too?
I get the feeling that there have been some golf course discussions about getting rid of usenet.
As everyone mentioned, newsgroups could be spooled off and the spam claim is bogus.
Unfortunately I had a crashing bug to report in sql 2008 and they wanted me to sign in to their forums with this so I could report it. Sod that, the crashing bug will remain unfixed in their enterprise database product then. I hope it costs them lots.
Bandwidth? I just dumped off a web page of their forum shite - one questiion, two answers, probably 300 bytes of useful text; 590K it took.
I'm growing from MS indifferent to MS hating in an incredibly short time. Really odd how much I loath them compared to 3 months ago.
You don't need to use MS's site to post to their Usenet groups
I have never once even signed up for MS's discussion forums, but I post to them on a daily basis. You don't have to use MS's news server -- most news servers carry the MS groups (including older ones that MS has discontinued on its own server). After MS shuts down its own NNTP server, those microsoft.public newsgroups will continue to exist on other news servers and will likely get plenty of activity.
It seems they're don't care about people like you who do so much unpaid support.