Russian Windows leaker denies link to ex-Microsoft worker who stole trade secrets

But Wzor acknowledges that the case prompted move to go underground and break off communication with sources

Notorious Russian leaker Wzor recently denied any link between the frequent publication of internal Microsoft information and the former employee who was arrested in March for stealing trade secrets -- including early builds of Windows -- and sharing them with others.

"Personally, I do not know him, and I do not think he ever wants to meet me, especially in light of events that happened to him," Wzor wrote on a Russian-language discussion board last month, according to a machine translation.

Wzor, whose identity is unknown -- to the point whether it's unclear if the nickname is for one individual or a group -- has been assumed to be Russian.

That is also the nationality of Alex Kibkalo, the former Microsoft architect who was arrested in March and charged with stealing trade secrets from his employer.

According to U.S. authorities, who nabbed Kibkalo when he returned to the U.S. for a technology conference in Bellevue, Wash., Kibkalo leaked pre-release software updates for Windows RT, the tablet-specific operating system, to a French blogger in July and August 2012, months before its official release. Kibkalo also provided the same blogger with the Activation Server SDK (software development kit), internal-only code to create the activation systems that validate product keys, Microsoft's primary anti-piracy technology.

In a deal with prosecutors, Kibkalo pleaded guilty to one count of trade secret theft, served a three-month jail sentence and then was deported to Russia.

A possible link between Kibkalo and Wzor was mentioned by many -- including Computerworld -- because Wzor's website went dark a day after Kibkalo's March 19 arrest. Wzor's Twitter account also disappeared the same day.

Wzor did not resurface on the Russian discussion board until late April. The website is still offline.

But Wzor confirmed that Kibkalo's arrest and the accompanying publicity resulted in the leak site going dark.

"He has had a direct negative effect on the fate of the project," Wzor wrote of Kibkalo. "This story forced me to take a number of radical solutions. [] was suspended, all public work projects were also frozen, [as were] all contacts with internal information sources. All went underground ... this was done in order to protect all!"

Until late March, Wzor had regularly released code and published screenshots of leaked Windows builds, including Windows 8.1 Update several weeks before its April unveiling. The leaker has continued to make claims related to upcoming Windows releases, notably about what most believe will be called Windows 8.1 Update 2, a further refresh of Windows 8.1 due as soon as next month.

Wzor has also contended that the next iteration of Windows, called "Windows 9" by most for the moment, will be announced this fall.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at  @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is

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