The leaked Windows 7 beta 1 was remarkably similar to the feature-enabled version of M3, but generated a lot of publicity for Microsoft. Some are suggesting the leak was intentional.  (Source: ZDNet)
Who leaked Windows 7? Was it Microsoft? Or hackers? Or the 1991 Denver Broncos?

Microsoft's Windows 7 beta 1 was not officially intended for release until January.  However, the release somehow hit torrent sites this week.  Many, including commenters here at DailyTech, suspected the "leak" was really a clever ruse by Microsoft to drum up tech community excitement for its upcoming release.

Now Microsoft Watch's Joe Wilcox, an observer on all things Microsoft, has thrown in his support for such theories.  Mr. Wilcox writes:

Was this a craftily timed Microsoft marketing leak?

I sure as hell think so. It's certainly what I would do if I worked at Microsoft on Windows evangelism. The timing is perfect, from a marketing perspective. The leaked build hit BitTorrent sometime on Saturday, right after Christmas when the Windows geeks had nothing better to do and bloggers and journalists had nothing better to write about. The leaked build is designated "7000," which strongly suggests that the code is the same as forthcoming Beta 1, or close to it.

With the big announcements of MacWorld (January 5-9) and CES (January 8-11), still a week away, there was a relative quiet that was perhaps the perfect time for a Microsoft leak.  Still some are skeptical.  Microsoft's Steven Sinofsky, senior vice president of the Windows and Windows Live Engineering Group has clamped down on beta leaks and during his tenure there have been almost none. 

Still, more signs point to an intentional leak.  For one, Microsoft is acting unconcerned about the leak.  Mr. Sinfosky himself, in a sedate response to questions about the leak stated, "It is part of our normal testing process for testers to receive regular builds; however, the Windows 7 public beta is still expected in early 2009."

Some are reading his comments as an accusation that a partner might have leaked the beta.  However, if Microsoft did receive such a "hassle", it might have really been a gift in disguise. 

With Apple purportedly gearing up to announce a "near complete" version of its much anticipated Snow Leopard OS at MacWorld, it was all set to steal the public's eye.  Now Windows 7 has beat it to the punch, filling up online tech news columns with a washout of reviews and news headlines.

And with the competition between Windows 7 and Snow Leopard expected to be particularly intense, thanks in part to Apple's brand popularity and Microsoft's image problems, Microsoft needs all the help it can get to get the public excited about Windows 7.  So whether the reports that Microsoft has returned to its old ways and is intentionally leaking its betas for attention holds true, or if a rogue partner is to blame, the result is the same -- good news for Microsoft.

"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher
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