If it was a practical joke, Microsoft officials aren't laughing.
A man who claimed to have worked for Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) until mid-January posted on his blog in early December a list of upcoming, unannounced products and his guesses on when they will ship.
On that list is Windows 8, which the former employee -- Chris Green -- pegs as being "released to manufacturing" (RTM) on or around July 1, 2011. Green's list also predicts Office 2012 is targeted to RTM in July 2012, and Windows Server 2012 as going to RTM in July 2012.
Earlier this week, that December post, and the chart that the former employee compiled, were spotted by Stephen Chapman, a blogger who already has a bit of a track record for finding sensitive Microsoft product timing documents.
Chapman publicized Green's chart in a post on the Microsoft Kitchen blog (formerly known as the UX Evangelist blog) Wednesday.
Green, whose name and former company e-mail address appears on at least one apparent Microsoft document online, did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
Microsoft Kitchen's Chapman said he does not know Green and can't vouch for the accuracy of the future product names and dates, although he noted on his blog that Green's chart includes caveats regarding the accuracy of the information.
"I do not know Chris Green but I do know that he is no longer employed with Microsoft," Chapman said in an e-mail to InternetNews.com.
"I've no idea where he gathered the inspiration for the dates he mentioned, but considering he was an employee who seemed to provide ... product support cycles ... it's difficult to determine if his rough estimates were personal or if they were provoked by some kind of internal preliminary time line," Chapman added.
Microsoft was officially non-committal regarding Green's chart, or even whether he was ever a company employee.
"We have nothing to share about future versions of Windows, Windows Server or Office at this time," a Microsoft spokesperson told InternetNews.com in an e-mail.