Who is your buddy? Thoughts about the ISV Buddy Program

Recently Mark and I were talking to some of the folks behind the ISV Buddy program about some concerns we had.  The concerns came from people on our teams that had experience in the program but, when put to the test, neither Mark nor I had actually signed up for the program.  Rather than just relaying a message we decided to sign up. 

Filing out the internal profile was a little too painless and in less than 24 hours I had been matched with a buddy who had already sent me mail.  My buddy is from DlhSoft.  I'm not exactly sure how the matching process goes since the information I was able to fill out about myself was rather limited.  I'm not sure they had much to go on when they selected me or even if they had a choice.

I had mixed feeling about this.  Not from my perspective, since, I'll do whatever I can to help out someone supporting the Microsoft platform.  What if I'm not really the person best suited to answer my buddies questions and all I can do is play message monkey from those in the know back to my buddy?  I hope this doesn't get in the way of forming a quality relationship between an ISV and Microsoft, which I believe, is part of the intent of the program.  At this point, however, it's too early to know.  If there was too much information and choosing going on I might never get picked as a buddy. :-)

My second concern is around the nature of 1-1 relationships to drain the overall community knowledge.  For example: I'll forward any bug about VS sent my way to the proper team, but then that bug won't be available for the community to see on the Product Feedback center.  If there are general questions and answers they will only benefit the individuals rather than the community if the Q/A had occurred in a public forum.  Am I crazy?  Would this concern anyone else?

I'm not all skeptical. Already I've sent mails back and forth with my buddy that have helped me understand, in a deeper way, how one company is taking advantage of our platform and uses our technologies.  This knowledge is something that could benefit every Microsoft employee who receives similar information about their customers.  To often; people developing products lose focus on exactly who and how real people use their technologies and these types of relationships allow you to gain that additional perspective.  I look forward to helping out my buddies by answering what I can and finding answers I don't have.

Are you signed up?  Is your company?  How much of an impact has this program had on you?  What could we(Microsoft) do to improve it? Would you want me as your buddy?