Microsoft's Windows 8, the next form of the company's operating system, may take a radical turn in its user interface and features, at least according to an official blog post by a Microsoft employee that was quickly taken down.
In a Jan. 31 blog posting on the Microsoft Developer Network, titled "What's In Store for the Next Windows," a project manager with "the Windows update team" suggests that development of Windows 8 is well under way. That blog posting was subsequently taken down, but the cached version can be found here.
Although the poster never mentions his or her name in that posting, nor the two others linked to it, the URL for that particular MSDN blog features the name "Sharad." The social networking site LinkedIn lists one "Sharad Goel" as a program manager for "computer software" at Microsoft, based in the greater Seattle area.
When asked by eWEEK for confirmation of the blogger's identity, a Microsoft spokesperson responded with: "Going by LinkedIn isn't conclusive in this instance, as we also aren't quite sure who this blogger is because there are multiple people at Microsoft with that name." The spokesperson also declined comment about any future editions of Windows.
"Folks started asking me what's in Windows 8-and the first thing I have to say is that I resonate [with] Steven Sinofsky's interview on who said we're calling it Windows 8?" reads the Jan. 31 blog posting. "So how am I referring to the next version of Windows without saying that many words-well simple-Windows.next."
The next version of Windows, according to the blogger, "will be something completely different from what folks usually expect of Windows-I am simply impressed with the process that Steven has set up to listen to our customers' needs and wants and get a team together that can make it happen."
Further details are not forthcoming, at least not in the Jan. 31 post. "That's about it for the time being-I know I'm not sharing much at this point but right now I can't as we work towards finalizing that vision."
Rumors of Windows 8 development have been drifting around online even before the Oct. 22 launch of Windows 7. In mid-October, a European health care newsletter quoted Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer as telling the audience at the U.K. press launch of Windows 7, "We've got Windows 8 under development now."
When eWEEK sought to confirm that quote, a Microsoft spokesperson claimed that no transcript of Ballmer's remarks was available, along with: "We have nothing to share about Windows 8 at this point as we are super-focused on delivering Windows 7 and sharing the value it offers to our customers."
Around that time, the rumor mill surrounding Windows 8 also kicked into even higher gear over the LinkedIn page for one Robert Morgan, a senior member of Microsoft's Research & Development team, who listed his current projects as "128bit architecture compatibility with the Windows 8 kernel and Windows 9 project plan."
Microsoft refused to confirm or deny whether Robert Morgan actually exists, offering eWEEK a "no comment" reply on Nov. 24. That opened the door to the possibility that the LinkedIn page had been faked.
The increased prevalence of the cloud, and the rise of browser-based operating systems such as Google's Chrome OS, has the potential to affect the development of Windows 8. How Microsoft intends to integrate the cloud into future versions of its flagship product remains to be seen, but leaked PowerPoint slides purportedly shown by Microsoft during the last Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles suggest that Windows 8 could be released in 2012.