Microsoft has a long history of establishing newsgroups that channel users and issues into the newsgroup (NNTP) space where information is shared and problems can be addressed by the community. Currently, Microsoft hosts more than 2000 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.
Meanwhile, customers are turning online more and more for information and help. Microsoft is revamping its communities to make it easy for customers to find help and information when they need it. Using forums as the online support strategy will reduce the number of redundant resources and centralize content, making community contributions more broadly available and impactful.
Beginning in June 2010, Microsoft will begin closing newsgroups and migrating users to Microsoft forums that include Microsoft Answers, TechNet and MSDN. This move will centralize content, make it easier for contributors to retain their influence, reduce redundancies and make content easier to find. Overall, forums offer a better spam management platform that will improve customer satisfaction by encouraging a healthy discussion space.
The move to an online forums application for community support has many benefits. Perhaps most appealing is the notion that "we own the app". This means we can continue to invest in and extend the application to solve customer problems as they arise. We are not constrained or tied to any particular back-end limitation. It is a web application that we own and can extend as needed. Below are some of the current forums features:
Support for Questions and Answers: The forums application enables users to ask questions and get answers flagged as such by authoritative users in the community. This ability to easily filter and find actual answers coming from trusted individuals is what sets the application apart from other discussion-based applications.
Subscription and Notification Services: Users have the ability to subscribe to forum activity they are interested in by subscribing to either RSS or to Live Alerts on any thread they are interested in tracking. Users can also subscribe to RSS feeds for any forum, selecting cuts of data like answer state on incoming or new threads. The Live Alerts option can be configured to send updates to mobile applications, instant messenger or to the users Live Mail account.
Ability to Vote as Helpful: Users can vote on content as being more helpful, enabling users to filter on helpfulness
read more : source :http://www.microsoft.com/communities/newsgroups/default.mspx