The Windows 8 publicity plan: Intentional accidents

Microsoft's 'accidental' post about Windows 8 Release Preview has bloggers buzzing -- and may hide a bigger problem for the OS

Polish those pocket protectors, get your propeller hats spun good and tight, and clear off plenty of room on your hard drive because today is Windows 8 Release Preview day.

So says the blogosphere, which caught a tantalizing glimpse of Microsoft's new Windows Hardware and Driver Developer blog yesterday. According to that initial post, Windows 8 Release Preview would be available for download today, a few days earlier than originally promised, along with a Windows 8 Driver kit and Visual Studio 2012 Professional. It even offered links, though the post said they wouldn't be active until today.

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That blog post went live for a few hours (minutes?), then disappeared, but not before several die-hard Microsoft fanboys snapped screencaps and copied the full text of the post by Chuck Chan, corporate veep for the WinDev team.

Apparently that post was published by accident. Visit that page now and you'll find nothing but crickets. Almost all of the links captured and reposted by the Windows junkies now lead to Bing, the search engine. (It has to get traffic somehow.) The one that does work as I write this leads to a download page for Microsoft Visual Studio 11 Professional beta, not a new version for 2012.

Call me a cranky old cynic, but I smell a rat here. I don't think that blog post was an accident. I think Microsoft is playing a PR game, trying to drum up a little Applesque excitement for Windows 8, which garnered middling to poor reviews for the Consumer Preview version released in February.

InfoWorld's own J. Peter Bruzzese called Windows 8's mix of the mobile Metro interface and Win7-like desktop as "Windows Frankenstein." (Gee, tell us what you really think.) Woody Leonhard described Win8 as "something old, something awkward." He also says Win8's two-dimensional anti-Aero interface harkens back to the days of Windows 3.1. Ouch.

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