Alcohol was to blame for senior Microsoft developers setting a blog-born trap for a journalist, according to the company's most-prominent weblog evangelist, Robert Scoble.
The blokey bloggers (yes, they're all men) hoped that journalist Mary Jo Foley would fall for some fictional middleware acronyms they'd invented: BML, Boa and Indigo Marks, and that they'd be reported as a genuine project. Only it was the scamsters themselves who were left red-faced by the Sixth Form prank.
And as many parents know, it was the kids' first brush with alcohol that caused the embarrassment.
"Don and Clemens and a few others were at a party at TechED Europe and had a few too many," explained über-blogger Robert Scobie.
Doubtless there really are dedicated staff at Redmond working all hours to speed Longhorn to market, despite the impression that the blogging teenagers - several of whom are middle aged - convey to the waiting world.
One of the perps, Clemens Vasters, pleads mitigation in an email to El Reg. Disowning the forward-looking statements he made earlier, he explains -
"What was the point? There is way too much bullshit going around about new specs and new stuff and new, new, new, new," he writes.
Yes, Clemens. That's a dark-looking kettle.
"We didn't issue a press release, we just blogged some foggy stuff. If you really read my 'hoax' and read the *first* four to six (depends on how you look at it) seemingly unrelated sentences and then read the rest, it should be pretty embarassing [sic] to take that as a serious news material."
"No Longhorn dev time was lost here," he insists.
Then again, he can't help boasting that the prank almost worked.
"As it happens, some well-known industry journalist was about to break that as a serious story until someone intentionally tipped her off," he writes.
So, the bloggers insist, it was a parody of middleware jargon. (The chaps can be witty when they put their minds to it, as this version of Don McClean's American Pie, entitled Bye Bye Mr.CIO guy demonstrates).
But not with this mean-spirited jape, confirm Reg sources. Foley was the target, as the bloggers were seething that she broke stories about Visual Studio Express and Bill Gates' own weblog, and wanted to get even.
The noise-generation craze that's rampant at both Microsoft and Sun Microsystems - coincidentally, two companies with a terrible recent record for getting products out of the door - is usually justified on two grounds. Firstly, it's supposed to route around the technical press and gives more accurate information to the company's community of users. (Sort of an adjunct to the existing Usenet forums, only with cat pictures instead of the replication features). Secondly it's makes the job of traditional public relations defunct.
Alas, it may need a PR professional to clean up after these boys' Common Room capers. ®
Microsoft developer hoax backfires
Sun launches IGRTN program
Physics hoaxers discover Quantum Bogosity
Archive.org suffers Fahrenheit 911 memory loss
Microsoft's wireless toilet prank
Microsoft toilet troubles continue