Microsoft released their Windows 7 M3 build 6801 at PDC last week and within 24 hours copies began to appear on popular bit torrent sites worldwide.
In a recent press roundtable, Microsoft executive Gary Schare, director of hardware ecosystem product management for the Windows client, acknowledged that the problem of bit torrent distribution was inevitable.
"Certainly when we went into an event saying 'OK, you have to come to an event to get the bits', you kind of know that someone is going to find a way to put that out there," Schare told APC, though he declined to comment on any specific legal actions Microsoft might take against downloaders: "I can't speak to what our legal team or anyone else has done."
The M3 build, released at last weeks PDC and WinHEC this week, does not require a serial to install therefore you can download and test the build freely.
Distribution to those wishing to install Windows 7 is probably a blessing in disguise for Microsoft. The windows team pools together a lot of data from Windows update and the Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) so a broader range of feedback may assist with early issues. Many who install Windows 7 early are technical enough to deal with any early bugs and can provide essential feedback ready for the broad beta in early 2009.
On the other hand many in the 1000 strong Windows team may argue that this creates a lot of noise and too much broad feedback. The company may not require such broad feedback from non developers and hardware engineers for such an early build.
Microsoft has not provided a full schedule for the beta of Windows 7 but yesterday in a keynote at Microsoft's WinHEC conference, Steven Sinofsky hinted at there being 1 beta and 1 release candidate before RTM.