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New post-beta Windows 7 build leaks to Web

With official downloads shut off, users turn to pirated copies on BitTorrent

February 12, 2009 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - A post-beta version of Windows 7 that has leaked to Internet file-sharing sites includes an updated version of Internet Explorer 8, according to searches at several BitTorrent trackers.

With Microsoft Corp. halting new Windows 7 beta downloads on Tuesday and blocking all downloads as of noon (EST) today, users are again turning to illegal sources to get the new operating system.

A search on the Pirate Bay tracking site, for example, found multiple versions of Windows 7 Build 7022, an .iso disk image date-stamped Jan. 15, making it the first leaked build that was completed after Microsoft launched the public beta.

People who downloaded and installed Build 7022 confirmed in comments on Pirate Bay that it is, in fact, a working version of Windows 7. Several also noted that among the changes from the beta was the inclusion of IE8 Release Candidate 1, which they demonstrated was part of the build by posting screenshots.

Because of the timing of its release, the Windows 7 beta included an interim edition of IE8, somewhere between the Beta 2 of August 2008 and the RC1 distributed in late January 2009 to users of Windows XP and Vista. At the time, James Pratt, a senior product manager on the IE development team, declined to talk about a schedule for bringing IE8 RC1 to Windows 7.

Download traffic for Build 7022 has been brisk. As of early Thursday, one torrent showed more than 1,300 "seeders" -- the term for a computer that has a complete copy of the torrent file -- and over 3,800 "leechers," or computers that have downloaded only part of the complete torrent. On Mininova.org, another tracking site, one of the Windows 7 Build 7022 torrents has been downloaded more than 26,000 times.

Leaks have become the norm for Windows 7. A pirated copy of Build 7000, which was officially released Jan. 10 as the public beta, leaked to file-sharing sites before the end of 2008. In October, the alpha of Windows 7 hit BitTorrent just hours after it was handed to attendees at the Professional Developers Conference.

However, not all leaked previews are what they seem. In comments on file-sharing sites, several users warned others that a disk image posing as an even-later version, Windows 7 Build 7025, was in fact simply the beta masquerading as something more up to date.

Although Microsoft released both 32- and 64-bit betas to the public, only the former of Build 7022 appears on BitTorrent tracking sites.

Microsoft has said that the next milestone for Windows 7 will be a release candidate, which will likely be offered to the general public. Company executives, including Steven Sinofsky, the senior vice president in charge of the Windows engineering group, however, have declined to set a schedule for delivering the release candidate.

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