Crowelf alerted me to an article on Tales of an Addict about a purported leak on the design of hero classes for World of Warcraft. Well, it's just a rumor, could be fake, and even if it was true it might get changed beyond recognition before it is finally implemented. But the basic idea is so incredibly boring, that it sounds real: Every class splits into three hero classes, with each hero class being equivalent to one talent tree. So a shadow priest could develop into a Dark Cleric, and protection warrior into a Guardian.
Besides being blindingly obvious as an idea, it would also incredibly bad game design. The catch is in the phrase "specializing in a Hero Class is like specializing in a profession - you're stuck with it forever". Now who would want to be stuck on one talent tree forever, with no possibility to change? Imagine you specialize as frost mage, and the next raid dungeon that opens is full of frost resistant mobs, making you as useless as a fire mage in Molten Core. Or you specialize as feral druid and Blizzard decides to nerf feral druids and make them less viable as tank. Or you specialize as holy priest and your guild decides that from now on they will only have paladins healing, and priests only allowed to be shadow as mana batteries for the pallies. This is all things that happened in the past and can happen again, and if you'd be stuck on a talent branch based hero class you'd be screwed.
So I'm hoping that this is just a well-made fake. The more likely story is that Blizzard has a folder labeled "hero classes" somewhere collecting dust in the back of a drawer, and nobody is really planning to work on it, until the marketing department decides that hero classes will be the selling point for the next expansion. But as so many MMORPGs already have this "each class can specialize into subcategories" concept, I sure hope that Blizzard comes up with something a bit more original and playable. I'd rather have *less* hero classes than current classes, for example bundling all spellcasters or all melee fighters.