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Vista SP1 makes appearance on BitTorrent

Pirates ahoy.

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Paying customers may not get their hands on Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) for weeks, but pirates can download the brand-new code today, according to searches at several BitTorrent trackers.

The RTM, or release to manufacturing, versions of both operating systems can easily be found on BitTorrent tracker sites such as Pirate Bay, which has made them available since Tuesday.

One torrent of Microsoft's newest server operating system, Windows Server 2008, lists 42 "seeders," the term for a computer that has a complete copy of the torrent file, and nearly 190 "leechers," or computers that have downloaded only part of the complete torrent. The Windows Server 2008 torrent installs a 60-day trial edition, according to users on Pirate Bay who have downloaded the 2.5GB disk image.

Vista SP1, meanwhile, is even more popular. The most active torrent located using Pirate Bay listed 163 seeds and almost 500 leechers by mid-day Wednesday. Another tracker, Mininova.org, showed similar numbers: 159 seeders and 665 leechers.

Pirate Bay reported the file as 2.9GB in size, while users who successfully downloaded the image warned others that it was not an upgrade per se. "This torrent is a complete install of Windows Vista including SP1. So there will be no option to upgrade," said a commenter on Pirate Bay using the alias "Soulshot." "You'll have to backup [sic] your Documents/Music/Pictures/Favorites, install the .iso to a DVD, restart and run the DVD. Which will erease [sic] everthing [sic] on your primary hard disk."

Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista SP1 moved to RTM on Monday, when CEO Steve Ballmer touted both milestones during a conference call with financial analysts. Vista SP1, however, won't land on the company's download site until mid-March because of problems with device drivers, while the official launch for Windows Server 2008 has been set for 27 February. Neither operating system can currently be legally obtained by the public.

Microsoft is no stranger to leaks. Last summer, for example, several builds of Vista SP1 that had been given to an invite-only group of some 15,000 testers ended up on BitTorrent within days.

The company, of course, takes a dim view of counterfeiters - one analyst recently estimated that Microsoft made an extra $77 million last quarter by cracking down on piracy. But its response to questions about the latest leaks was muted. "Microsoft cautions consumers and businesses that downloading software from a non-genuine source can pose risks to their environment," a spokeswoman said in an email.



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