A website mainly targeted at Microsoft enthusiasts is shutting down and it appears this has been partly caused by pressure from Microsoft. Due some information on the website it became confirmed that Microsoft is working on a Windows version that supports foldable devices. The website administrator has removed all content and replaced it with an explanation of what happened.
The website is called BuildFeed and mainly posts build strings of Windows versions. To be clear, website only lists versions and does not offer the actual Windows versions for download.
However, some of the build strings can reveal upcoming features coming to Windows 10. Over the weekend a list of builds was leaked with references to rs_shell_devices_foldable_dev1 and rs_shell_devices_foldable. Some media picked up that string and started to report that Microsoft is working on a Windows 10 version that supports foldable devices. According to the owner of BuildFeed, the strings were submitted/posted by a Microsoft employee.
It’s not entirely news that Microsoft works on support for foldable devices for Windows 10. It was already rumored several times that Microsoft is working on such devices and even the code name “Andromeda” already leaked. Besides Microsoft, also other companies, like Intel, work on foldable devices. The chip giant already showed a working dual screen foldable prototype. It’s obvious that such hardware needs support from software and therefore it was very likely Microsoft would be adding support for foldable devices to Windows 10.
Nevertheless, the build strings revealing Microsoft is currently working on adding support for foldable devices in Windows 10 apparently caused some stir, after which the owner of BuildFeed, Thomas Hounsell decided to shut down his site. Those who now visit the site are presented with a rather lengthy statement explaining the closure.
In short, Hounsell explains he wasn’t involved in day-to-day operation for two years anymore and that some of his friends were running the site. Apparently, there were parties unhappy with the site, and they put pressure on [the] BuildFeed [team], which pretty much ruined their hobby. Hounsell writes about that, “given extensive internal pressures and external pressures (and yes, Microsoft is one of those relentless and ever-present external pressures), I have found myself unable to commit to running BuildFeed on the principles it was founded upon.”
Later in the statement, Hounsell further explains the pressure, writing, “The truth is that were it not for my failings, this day would not have come; and were it not for the persistent activities by third parties to force us offline, this day would not have come either.”
While Microsoft would be the first that comes to mind, Hounsell is a bit mysterious about that. After some media reported that BuildFeed was reportedly closed down after pressure of Microsoft, Hounsell updated his statement with the more cryptic statement, “Microsoft has not and has never issued a Cease & Desist to BuildFeed. They have never explicitly asked that the website has been taken down. They have never (directly) asked me to disclose the sources for the site. They have played their hand far too well to stoop to such messy and clumsy tactics.”
While at first that might indicate that Microsoft has not been a reason for closing the site, it appears that Microsoft indeed did not put pressure on Hounsell directly, but that the company might have put pressure on any other person or company providing services to BuildFeed. One that first comes to mind would be e.g. their hosting provider.
Maybe someday Hounsell will provide more information on the external parties that were putting pressure on BuildFeed/ him and what they exactly did.
For users that regularly visited BuildFeed and will miss the site, there’s hope. The source code is on open-source hosting website GitLab and Hounsell has provided a database dump with all data for download. This allows anyone to use the code and data to start a new website with the same functionality, under a different name.