Windows 7 SP1 leaks to pirate sites

March build of service pack hits BitTorrent, pirates download

Pirated copies of WINDOWS 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) leaked to the Internet last week, searches at several BitTorrent sites show.

The purported Windows 7 SP1 build was tagged as "6.1.7601.16537.100327-0053," indicating that it was compiled by Microsoft on March 27, 2010. According to tallies at several file-sharing sites, several thousand copies of the leak have been grabbed by downloaders since it went live last Wednesday.

In March, Microsoft confirmed that it was working on service packs for both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, but declined to set a ship date for the upgrades. At the time, the company said that the service packs would primarily be composed of "minor updates," including patches and hotfixes that will have been delivered already via the Windows Update service, and a limited number of new features. Among the latter: an updated Remote Desktop client designed to work with RemoteFX , the new remote-access platform set to debut in Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1.

BitTorrent sites listed the SP1 preliminary build as a 1.26GB download.

Users who downloaded and installed the pirated build reported that they had successfully updated their copies of Windows 7. "Installed and tested, works fine," said someone identified as "cj42057" on h33t.com . "Reports as Service Pack 1, v1.53 and it did not brick my activation, but I'm sure that all depends on the technique you've used for activation."

Microsoft's software regularly reaches file-sharing sites before release. Windows 7, in fact, hit BitTorrent sites just hours after Microsoft handed out a preview build to developers in October 2008, while the official RTM, for "release to manufacturing" build leaked two weeks before the best-connected customers had access to the new operating system.

"As a reminder, we strongly recommend that customers do not install unofficial software for their own protection," a Microsoft spokeswoman said today. The company has repeatedly cited data, including a Microsoft-sponsored 2006 report from research firm IDC ( download PDF ), that a significant percentage of pirated copies of its software contain malware.

The spokeswoman added that Microsoft is not ready to spell out a release date for SP1.

According to a January 2010 survey, Windows 7 SP1 may be less important than previous first service packs in tipping IT fence sitters to the OS. Of the more than 900 IT administrators polled by Dimensional Research three months ago, 46% said they wouldn't wait for SP1 before deploying Windows 7. By tradition -- if little else -- many businesses postpone their migrations to a new Windows until that version's SP1 shows up.

Analysts from research firms such as Gartner and Directions on Microsoft have recommended that enterprises not wait for SP1 to begin deploying Windows 7 in their organizations.

"This time, waiting for SP1 may be doing yourself a disservice," Michael Cherry, of Directions on Microsoft, said in an interview last month.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld . Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@ix.netcom.com .

Read more about operating systems in Computerworld's Operating Systems Knowledge Center.

This story, "Windows 7 SP1 leaks to pirate sites" was originally published by Computerworld.

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