Last week, a number of news outlets ran a story on a blog called Fixing Windows 8, a Tumblr site run by user interface designer and former Microsoft employee Michael Bibik.
One week later, and the HTML page for fixingwindows8.com is blank except for one character, a period. If you view the source, it's also just one character, a period. Bibik did not respond to an email request for comment. His Twitter account has also disappeared.
The fact that Bibik was an ex-Microsoftie was the main hook for writers who caught wind of the blog while it was active, since this was someone from the mothership issuing loud criticism of the upcoming operating system. The word "Ex-Microsoft Employee" was found in a whole bunch of stories on the blog.
Undoubtedly, this got the attention of his former employer. The question is, could Microsoft have done anything about it? According to his LinkedIn profile, he has not worked for Microsoft since 2007. Currently, he's with Amazon working on Android UI design, according to his profile.
Bibik wasn't shy in his Windows 8 criticism on the blog, which he set up on March 3, just days after the beta hit the Internet. He noted the start screen has no tutorial or help and the Windows Start button everyone knows is hidden, which would leave people lost. He also noted something that has been a particular annoyance in my experience with Windows 8:
"Metro apps do not have window controls. How does a user know how to exit a Metro app? They can’t minimize, they can’t maximize, they can’t exit. I’m pretty sure this is where 75% of first-time users will simply give up. This will be so frustrating, people won’t even try to fix it," he wrote.
Could Microsoft have silenced him? Sure, if he was a recent departure. People often have to sign non-disparagement agreements with a confidentiality clause when they leave an employer, and stock options can serve as golden handcuffs even after you've been gone for years.
Microsoft would not comment either way on the blog or what may have happened to it. Given how forceful Bibik was in his criticism and that there were quite a few updates (the site can be found in the Google cache), it seems unusual he would disappear so quickly and so thoroughly on his own accord.
But before you go off on an anti-Microsoft, there-they-go-again rant, just remember, Apple behaves like that, too. Remember ThinkSecret?