Windows Entertainment and Connected Home MVP Barb Bowman’s contributions to community have been as rich and varied as her professional career. Over the years, Barb has taken a turn as a Philosophy 101 teacher, helped design an Aspen Colorado ski area and served as a production director for United States and United Kingdom wallpaper sample photography. Barb wrote user documentation and conducted testing for Prodigy's first Windows applications. She was part of the Internet product development team for MediaOne and later AT&T Broadband and Comcast High Speed Internet. For a number of years, she also was a Microsoft Expert Zone and Vista Community columnist.
In the community, Barb is a prolific blogger, has written Windows 8 forum readers apps (you can read more about them in this MVP Award blog post), and is among the most active contributors to the Microsoft Community.
“My involvement in community goes back almost to the beginning of time,” she explained. “Somebody pointed me to the old BBS system, which as a pre-curser to the Internet. I graduated to Prodigy and CompuServe and eventually became a bulletin board leader. I found tremendous value in peer-to-peer support and since then have been paying it forward.”
Today she says she’s found her niche in helping people whose skills fall somewhere “beyond novice”—those who want to troubleshoot and are not afraid to use more advanced systems. “I enjoy not only giving the answers, but also helping people gain the ability to solve problems,” she said. “Most won’t be looking for how to use Group Policy Editor. They come to Microsoft Community because they have issues like ‘I have a device and I want it to work with Play To—what’s the trick?’”
To help people get fast, reliable answers to their questions, Barb was part of the contingent of MVPs who took a leadership role in helping build the Microsoft Community Wiki Program. She surveyed her blog for her best answers to trending issues and created a number of trouble-shooting wikis, which were part of the hundreds of wiki articles that helped launch the program (more information about the Microsoft Community Wiki Program can be found in the Top Stories section of this site).
“Wikis can be a friendlier way to get answers for the casual user,” stated Barb. “Once people become comfortable with wikis on Microsoft Community, it will become a place they look first. And I think once the library builds, it will become a default destination.”
Barb has been an MVP for a dozen years and, like her professional and community work, her reach and interests in the MVP community are diverse. “I’m on a lot of distribution email lists,” she explained. “And my expanded MVP family includes experts who all have a little piece of the connected home scenario—IT Pro, Windows Server, networking MVPs and application authors for Windows 8 and Surface. These are people who I know are experts in the field and community driven. I can trust them and that’s valuable.”