Did Vienna ever exist or was it just misinformation?
This question comes with a hidden assumption: Any product which never existed must have been intentional misinformation.
But we’ve seen that that’s not true. For example, there was never any product code named Blackcomb, but at the time, there was every intention of having one. It just never turned into reality.
Say you come up with an idea for a project and start sketching it out. Naturally, the first thing you do is come up with a cool code name, so you decide to call it Project Nosebleed. You set up a bunch of meetings to figure out what features would go into it, what the timeline would be for developing and shipping it, maybe even create some high-level scenarios and deliverables and ask people to break them down into more concrete items so they could estimate how long it would take and how much it would cost.
After a few months of planning, you eventually come to the conclusion that the project won’t work. Maybe because there are some technical problems that you can’t seem to overcome. Or the preliminary engineering estimates suggest that there’s no way it could finish in time at a reasonable cost. Or maybe your market research shows that there is no significant audience for your project. Or maybe upper management decided not to proceed with your project in favor of another project that is very similar. Or because it overlaps the scope of another team and got cookie-licked away.
So you cancel your Project Nosebleed.
Was Project Nosebleed just misinformation?
No, it wasn’t. You had every intention of making Project Nosebleed a reality, or at least you had every intention of exploring whether Project Nosebleed could become a reality. It so happens that the answer was “No”, but it was an honest effort.
You didn’t create the Nosebleed project as a form of misinformation. The only person you were fooling was yourself.
I have no personal knowledge of Project Vienna, but I’m confident that it was a genuine, well-intentioned effort to be the vision for the next version of Windows. But it didn’t pan out. Not misinformation. Just another failure, like Blackcomb.