Windows 7 screen shot.
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A trial version of Microsoft's forthcoming Windows 7 operating system showed up on the Internet over the weekend, according to numerous blog reports.
The beta version of the OS, reportedly Windows 7, build 7000, can be downloaded from several infamous torrent sites often used to share pirated content.
Microsoft isn't planning to officially release beta copies of Windows 7 until its MSDN developers' conference in January. A final version of the OS isn't expected until late 2009 or early 2010.
Microsoft may not be overly displeased with the leak.
The company is urging partners to begin work on Windows 7 product development as soon as possible to avoid the sort of compatibility problems that plagued the launch of Windows Vista in January 2007.
Earlier this month, Intel released a pre-production version of Windows 7 drivers for graphics chipsets. The WDDM1.1 graphics driver is designed for "enabling the full Windows 7 experience," Intel said, noting that the driver is the result of ongoing collaboration with Microsoft.
Drivers allow hardware components to communicate with a computer operating system.
When Vista launched in January of last year, many hardware makers -- including Intel -- didn't have fully compatible drivers ready. The problems marked the beginning of a slew of bad press for Vista that ultimately led many businesses and consumers to reject the operating system.
To avoid a repeat of those problems, Microsoft earlier this year ordered computer and other hardware makers to begin testing their devices on Windows 7 as soon as the first beta version becomes available.
Microsoft for the first time unveiled Windows 7 features at its Los Angeles Professional Developers Conference in October and appears anxious to release the OS as soon as possible. The company has formally said that Windows 7 won't ship until early 2010, but the January release of a beta disk is the latest sign that Windows 7 could debut in late 2009.
Microsoft is hoping Windows 7, which includes native support for touch screens, will help erase memories of Vista, which has been a disappointment for the company.