Microsoft veteran Raymond Chen has reminded us of the time when Twitter misdetected the overexcited developer emissions from the 2011 Build conference as a denial-of-service attack and hit the mute button.
Chen is curiously quiet on what caused the volume of messages to spike so during the keynote. The Register is happy to remind him that Build 2011 was when Steven Sinofsky showed off Windows 8 to a horrified/delighted world.
As the keynote rolled on, and the majesty of Sinofsky’s ambition was revealed, delegates took to Twitter – then not yet five years old – to express their feelings on the matter. And Twitter went down.
Or rather, it went down for those at the convention centre in Anaheim, California.
Many of us have experienced the unalloyed delight of conference Wi-Fi (and any speakers brave enough to use it for demonstrations get an automatic bonus point for sheer courage) but the specific nature of the problem left those responsible for the network scratching their heads.
“Eventually,” said Chen, “somebody called Twitter technical support to get some help with the problem, and they learned that Twitter blocked all traffic from the convention center because it looked like a denial-of-service attack.”
“Nope,” was the response from Microsofties, “we just have a lot of excited developers.”
Excited was not perhaps the word we’d use as the overhaul was revealed, along with an upcoming Windows Store and Metro apps that would run on Intel and Arm hardware alike. Then again, free Samsung fondleslabs were also given to attendees so perhaps all the “Free Stuff!” tweets were what tipped the scales at Twitter HQ.
In the end, developers stayed away from the Store in their droves and Microsoft spent the next decade backing away from Sinofsky’s vision following Windows 8’s 2012 release (Sinofsky himself would leave shortly after).
The good news was that a call to support (“I had no idea that Twitter even had a technical support phone number,” said Chen) got the ban lifted, permitting users to share in the thrill of Windows 8’s introduction.
“I recall that some attendees complained that the wireless access during the keynote was terrible,” said Chen, “though they didn’t name Twitter specifically.”
“Well, now you know why. And it was partly your fault.”
But who was to blame for Windows 8? ®