Microsoft, more now than ever, has been all about its fans. Ever since before the launch of Windows 10, the firm has started paying more attention to active users of Windows who read, follow news and comment on blogs just like this. The Lumia 950 and 950 XL were for the “fans”, the insider program is dedicated towards the “fans” and the firm has community champions active on Twitter and Reddit to engage with the “fans” and make them feel included in the decision-making process as regards to Windows.
Earlier in 2015, just before the launch of Windows,, Microsoft launched a Scoop Newsletter in the UK, in an earlier interview with MSN, the program manager for the fan program Ian Mouslter expressed the following sentiment “We know there are lots of people in the UK who like tech and gadgets and also like and use Microsoft products. We want to make it easy for them to stay up to date with all of the exciting technology and devices coming out of Microsoft, and have some fun while doing so. We’re focusing on Windows 10 of course given that it is central to so much Microsoft technology moving forward but we’re covering things like apps and devices too.”
In the months after the Windows 10 launch, Microsoft UK expanded that Scoop program from a simple email newsletter to the Microsoft Fan Scoop Program.
The Microsoft Scoop Program is a program which is “a way to get closer to the people who are most” passionate about Microsoft in the UK. This takes the form of a hidden Facebook group for dedicated Microsoft fans. Members of the group can post, sit down and have a chat with each other, discuss devices, apply for device loans and organize community events. In the past two months, users of the program have had the opportunity to have a discussion with Ryan Asdourian, head of Windows and Surface in the UK as well as a trip to Microsoft’s Reading HQ for E3. The fans have also had the chance to use devices like the Surface Pro 4, Surface Book and Lumia 950 series among others.
MSPU sat down with Ian Mouslter, afore-mentioned Program Manager of the Microsoft Scoop Fan Program at Microsoft’s London offices to learn about the thinking behind this program, its reception, and its future.
MSPU: Is it a successor to the Lumia Voices Programme canceled earlier this year. It bears a few similarities especially with regards to the device loans program.
Ian Moulster : I’m not too familiar with the Lumia Voices program, from what I know, it is mostly loaning out devices to users. The Microsoft Fan Scoop Program does do device loans with devices like the Surface, and the HoloLens when it comes out. However, the Fan Scoop Program is much more than just device lands, it is broader In intent [as will be detailed below] There are many more parts of it, I won’t comment too much on Lumia voices because don’t know it that well. But from what I know of it, there are certain parts of it there are the same.
MSPU: Why is the Microsoft Fan Scoop Program a UK exclusive, the entire program is something that would be beneficial to Microsoft fans worldwide, both in the UK, India and everywhere. We’ve had comments from readers
I.M :Some of the reason is that we [Microsoft UK] just decided to do it, it was originally set as a trial to the end of June. When it was first launched, it was made very clear that it was being run as a test drive which we’d observe till the end of June. I’m pleased with where its gone here, so we’re going to continue. What happens next elsewhere I don’t know, we just thought it would be a worthwhile to try, so from a UK point of view we’re going to continue to grow it.
MSPU: How are you pleased with the increased engagement by fans?
I.M: I’ll tell you when I set up the group I spent some time thinking about topics that I could seed the group with say let’s talk about this topic or that one, see what you think. As it turns out, I’ve never had to use any of those because the fans are so enthusiastic they post stuff without me having to do anything at all.
While I do post stuff the occasional things, their posts to me are more useful. They all talk to each other and I think they gain a lot from talking to each other in a way they otherwise wouldn’t. So when I say I’m pleased, I’m pleased because it’s working out so well for the fans because they are obviously seeing use in it as it’s something that they didn’t have before, and now they do have
MSPU: Was it hard to get other manufacturers involved in the program – in reference to the device loans aspect of it? I’ve seen devices, not only from Microsoft but from other manufacturers being used in the loans program.
I:M: On the loans side, we have Lenovo, Asus, and HP etc. already involved directly in it. There are other devices that we loan out as well, and we spoke to them about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it and they were quite happy to get involved with us to make sure the fans could get their hands on their kit. To me, it only ever works if everyone gains something from it. If only one part gains, it doesn’t work, and everyone wins if the device is being loaned out the fans. The fans get to use a device that they wouldn’t otherwise have got to use and spend some quality time with it rather than just looking at it in a store.
MSPU: Speaking of stores and all that, does Microsoft UK take input from the Scoop program to feedback into other aspects of its operation in the UK with regards to fans?
I.M: Some of the comments people make definitely get fed back to the team and some of the things people suggest or don’t like and other things that make sense in feeding back t the teams the things that make sense. The Windows Insider program is the global way to give feedback about Windows 10, so if people have got comments about Windows 10 I would suggest they use the feedback tool to do it , using us to do that wouldn’t make sense. It’s always good to hear what people like and don’t like, but when it’s a Windows 10 thing I think it makes more sense for them to use the built-in tools .
MSPU: So what sort of events do you have planned for the Scoop program in the future? If I recall correctly, there was a conference call earlier, and a trip to Microsoft HQ in Reading for the E3 announcements.
I.M: I have an ambition for there to be some events. When I say events, it’s really a way for us to meet up and see each other, the E3 one was suggested by some of the fans, they thought it would make sense for us if we came in and spent some time with you, which made sense because we could provide the event venue and so on. I’d love to do more of that throughout the UK because not everyone is in the southeast and would find it very hard to get there. The vision have here is for us to meet up,the chance to talk to each other, to talk to us. We’d probably take some devices along that people wouldn’t be able to use otherwise, but it’s not an event in the traditional sense, we aren’ t going to do powerpoint slide shows – it leans more towards get-togethers.
MSPU: How do you feel about the demographics of the program?
I.M: There’s a really good mix of people there which is what I like. I don’t exactly know how old they are, but some of them have volunteered it and there’s a good mix ranging from young students to people who have retired and a whole bunch of people who have retired. The mix of male of female? There are many more males than female, but that’s just the way it goes. It would be great to get that balance there a little bit if possible. I’m also pleased that its a good mix of people who are techy and people who are not, you can be a fan without being one who wants to take things part and know how things work. People who just like using our products while not necessarily wanting to get In there and write code. Once more, it’s a good mix of people who are techy and people who are nontechie.
I think having that mix is a good thing for a group.
MSPU : So are you going to expand the group in the future? As it stands now, the group is restricted to people who were signed into the scoop newsletter and it is currently hidden from those without a link.
I.M: I would like to, I’m pretty sure there are fans out there that we don’t know about yet and I would like to find a way to find them, and to get them involved. I would like to do more with the group as a whole, I would like to think about more things we can do, more useful things we can put it place.So both of those. I think just the fact that I’m talking to you, hints at our plans going forward.
To preemptively answer the question about how many users we may have in a group like this, there is no right answer. I think the number we have now is a good size, roughly 500 members [M – 534 exactly!] , of those, there’s a portion of people who talk and post a lot, and there’s a portion of people who just listen and read. I think the numbers we have right now means it’s a very active group and there’s a lot of chatter. A lot of talk, but not too much. The balance is about right.
The question is if you scale it up, would that be too much. So, I need to think about that and whether if Facebook is the right medium. Right now it makes sense, with a bigger group, it may need to be moved elsewhere. I don’t have any hard and fast thoughts about that on exactly how that would work out, so we’re just taking it one step at a time.
MSPU: Have you ever had to kick anyone out of the group?
I.M: Thankfully not. Its one of the reasons that when I first started the group, I had a charter that we set out. We tried to give the fans an insight into what we were trying to do and why. It’s also something that helps guide is around thinking what we can do for the fans and sets those principles out. In the long run, that;s been useful.
The code of conduct is useful as well because it just gives the fans some guidelines as to how we want to work with each other. We want it to be a fin place to be and we want it to be safe place to be. So putting those parameters in place has been quite useful
What really surprised me is how much the fans have taken to it and how much they’ve engaged and how much they seem to enjoy it.
MSPU: What products do you think excite the fans the most?
I.M: Different people, like different things, some of them are into gaming and some of them definitely aren’t. Some of them talk about phones a lot, some of them talk about desktops. It’s back to the questions about the mix and different interests. HoloLens is one that makes everyone light up, which makes sense. There’s nothing specific I can say.
MSPU: What’s your favorite Microsoft device?
I.M: I’m spoiled by working here I’ve been given a lovely Microsoft Surface Book which is fantastic and I love that, I use my Lumia 950 XL and I love my phone as well. It’s a good mix of things I bought and I’ve been given like the band 2 which I bought , I bought the Xbox. If I had to pick one thing, it’s going to be my Surface book, that’s my favorite product.