Microsoft Employees Leak Windows 8 Details

In a Jan. 31 MSDN blog post, 'Sharad', who claims to be a member of Microsoft's Windows Update team, acknowledged fielding a growing number of outsider questions about Windows 8 but said it may not end up bearing that name. Instead, Sharad called the forthcoming version ""

"The minimum that folks can take for granted is that the next version will be something completly (sic) different from what folks usually expect of Windows," Sharad wrote in the blog post, which has since been deleted but is viewable through Google cache.

Sharad also praised Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft's Windows division, for instituting a process that's bringing together "dozens and dozens of teams" within Microsoft to develop the next version of Windows.

"The themes that have been floated truly reflect what people have been looking for years and it will change the way people think about PCs and the way they use them. It is the future of PCs," Sharad wrote in a portion of the blog post.

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Earlier this week, John Mangelaars, regional vice president of consumer and online for EMEA, was less measured in his prediction of the impact Windows 8 will have.

"For me, Windows 8 will be mind-blowing," Mangelaars said in an interview with CIO UK.

Microsoft told on Friday that it's still trying to figure out the identity of Sharad and can't confirm that the person is actually a Microsoft employee.

Otherwise, Microsoft isn't commenting on Windows 8, which is hardly surprising since Windows 7 is still getting its sea legs in the market and will likely be the main focus of Microsoft's marketing efforts for at least the next year.

"While innovation and planning for the future is an essential part of how we build our products, Microsoft has nothing to share about any future versions of Windows at this time," the spokesperson said in an e-mail.

Sharad's and Mangelaars' comments are nebulous enough -- would anyone expect Microsoft employees to say the next version of Windows isn't going to be game changing? Still, such public pronouncements are strange in light of the secrecy Microsoft has maintained around Windows ever since Sinofsky took over Windows 7 development.

In Sharad's case, it wouldn't be venturing too far into tinfoil hat territory to suggest this is a hoax, although not one that would appear to benefit Microsoft. Sharad started his/her MSDN blog on Jan. 5 of this year, and has penned just 4 entries to date, including the deleted one.

In one of the posts, Sharad says "I'm relatively new to the world of MS and I'm loving it!" In another, Sharad predicts that Apple's iPad will be "the next cool device to own".

It's certainly possible that Sharad is just a Microsoft employee who didn't get the memo during orientation about not speaking publicly about future product releases. It's also possible Sharad wasn't aware that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer loathes Apple products and frowns on their use by his employees.

However, it's very unlikely that a new employee would come on board, commit two major faux pas like these, and continue to have a job with Microsoft.