Astroturf is out, but blogging is in at Redmond. Microsoft is hoping that blog power can boost its much-delayed operating system Longhorn when it makes its first beta in July. The company has given the thumbs up to the formation of a group of 20 volunteers who Microsoft hopes will provide feedback on upcoming builds of Longhorn whilst also selectively filtering news of changes back to the community.
Microsoft evangelist and blogger Robert Scoble is leading the effort, called Team 99. Scoble wrote on his blog this weekend that one of the few requirements he has for the group is that volunteers are all bloggers. Rather than select members, Scoble is leaving the community to nominate individuals. He said individuals should have a good profile in the community, be trusted, and be capable of providing "good feedback on your behalf to Microsoft." Scoble added Microsoft wants Team 99's capabilities to span developers and "super users".
Last week Microsoft targeted bloggers for posting screen shots of Longhorn. Microsoft asked them to remove the pictures from their sites. Microsoft cited a desire to protect patents on certain technologies in the Longhorn Developer Preview.