Microsoft said it plans to end support for more than 4,000 old-style newsgroups starting next month, pushing users instead to discussion forums such as those found on the Microsoft Answers, TechNet, and MSDN sites.
Microsoft said that so-called NNTP newsgroups are past their time in terms of being usable and secure. The Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP) is an Internet application protocol used for transporting Usenet news articles (netnews) between news servers and for reading and posting articles by end user client applications
"Newsgroups run on an outdated and discontinued platform that is no longer supported, making them vulnerable to spam and other usability issues," Microsoft said in a statement. The company said that its forums get 15 million visits a month and have been growing, on average, 12 percent each month. By contrast, it said that participation in newsgroups has dropped nearly in half over the past year.
On June 1, Microsoft will be progressively closing newsgroups and helping active newsgroups users migrate their discussions to the refreshed Microsoft forums that include Microsoft Answers, TechNet and MSDN. This decision was made in an effort to provide the best community and support resources and experience to our customers with social features and functionalities that address their feedback and needs.
"Moving to forums aligns the end user experience with current market trends, reduces the number of redundant support resources with centralized, searchable content, allows users to identify content contributors across forums, and makes contributions more broadly available and impactful," Microsoft said. "Forums are also moderated by Microsoft to ensure content is accurate and to encourage richer conversations. This will (ultimately) offer a better customer experience and is in step with the broader industry trend toward support forums that fully leverage search and social media functionality."
The newsgroups made their debut in April 1996, replacing the Microsoft-sponsored discussion forums on CompuServe. Usenet was originally designed based on the UUCP network, with most article transfers taking place over direct point-to-point telephone links between news servers, which were powerful time-sharing systems. Readers and posters logged into these computers reading the articles directly from the local disk.
There are some differences between the old newsgroups and the forums, Microsoft said, noting that newsgroups are unmoderated, while Microsoft moderates its forums. Also posts to the Web tend to live forever, whereas newsgroup postings were deleted after 90 days.