Although even the best-connected users can't get their hands on Windows 7's final code until Aug. 6, people willing to pirate the new operating system can download it today from several file-sharing sites, searches show.
Build 7600.16385, which Microsoft declared as Windows 7 RTM, or "release to manufacturing," earlier Wednesday, leaked to the Internet almost a week ago. On the BitTorrent tracking site Mininova.org, for example, that build first appeared July 16.
According to the filename onMininova, the build was compiled July 13.
Not surprisingly, the first edition of the build to hit BitTorrent was a 64-bit Chinese edition. That same day, English-language versions of the 32- and 64-bit popped up on Mininova. Since then, other language editions have appeared, including German, Hungarian and Italian.
Microsoft has not been able to plug the leaks of Windows 7. Last October, just hours after the company unveiled the first public build to attendees at its Professional Developers Conference, the alpha hit BitTorrent. Since then, the OS has leaked repeatedly, including prior to the public beta of January 2009 and the release candidate of May.
But while pirates grab the final bits -- more than 5,000 copies of the English editions posted on Mininovalast week have been downloaded -- legitimate users must wait two weeks for the new operating system.
According to the roll-out schedule Microsoft announced yesterday, developers and IT professionals who subscribe to the MSDN or TechNet services will have first dibs on Windows 7 RTM only on Aug. 6.
Consumers, on the other hand, must be even more patient: They won't receive their pre-ordered copies of Windows 7, or be able to buy new PCs with it pre-installed, until Oct. 22.
Windows 7 retail prices run from $119.99 to $219.99 for upgrades, and from $199.99 to $319.99 for full-package editions.