Torrent leeches don't have to wait until next month to check out the Windows 7 beta.... it's already listed on Torrent trackers.
While you won't see any direct links here, the ISO does indeed appear listed on multiple trackers, weighing in roughly around 2.44GB in size and reporting to be build 7000. Consumers and developers alike are anxiously waiting for an official release of Microsoft's next version of Windows, and in a sense, the leaked beta is a good indication that end-users are ready for the new OS no more than ever. And while the leaked beta has hit torrent trackers, it's easy to forget -in the excitement of its appearance- that the coveted ISO might carry some unwanted baggage as well.
So is it a coincidence that a few websites are posting screenshots and reviews of the Windows 7 beta the same time the torrent appears online? Maybe, maybe not. While there's no finger pointing going on, this site posted a huge batch of installation screens on Christmas Eve (December 24). ZDNet's Adrian Kingsley-Hughes even posted a review of the OS beta, liking the new build but commenting that the new version (7000) is very similar to the last build, 6801, offering fewer new things than previous builds. Granted, the article did indicate that many of the updates are underlying improvements and don't have anything to do what apparent visuals. However, he indicated that the new Windows 7 beta is of release quality; very stable, very fast, and very telling that Microsoft may stick to a mid '09 release.
In general, Kingsley-Hughes claims that the installation procedure is faster than Windows vista and Windows XP, taking around 20 to 25 minutes (depending on the system). But once loaded, he instantly took notice of the taskbar and didn't seem too thrilled with its new design. "The new revamped taskbar is visually very interesting (and certainly a lot easier to use at higher screen resolutions that the Vista or XP taskbar), but it tries to do too much and as such comes across as kludgey and counter-intuitive," he writes. "One failure is that it’s hard to tell the difference between apps that are running and shortcuts that have been pinned to the taskbar." He also complains about the Jump Lists, saying that they are awkward to use "in the real world."
Other features he goes on to discuss include Aero Snap, a method of tiling applications to either side of the screen (ripped from Adobe no less), Aero Peek, a way to see all running applications without minimizing everything, and Personalizations, various ready-made themes that even include a desktop slideshow that will continuously change the background wallpaper. He also noted that Windows Messenger, Windows Mail, and even Movie Maker are no longer part of the Windows OS, and must be downloaded through the Windows Live Essentials. Paint and Wordpad have received a facelift (via the Ribbon UI), Internet Explorer 8 will be the default browser, Media Center received a few tweaks, and Windows Media Players has "vastly improved."
"I like Windows 7, a lot," he reports. "Microsoft seems to have put a lot of effort into developing a core operating system that is free from the pointless frills of the likes of XP and Vista. The OS is solid and fast and based on what I’ve seen so far I’d have no problems in rolling out beta 1 and using it daily."
According to Microsoft, Windows 7 Beta 1 will go public sometime in the second half of January 2009. While it seems sensible just to wait for the official, it's not stopping impatient consumers from downloading the shiny new beta anyway. Who knows... perhaps Microsoft intentionally leaked the beta in order to track down possible pirates. In any case, anyone pondering over whether or not to download the ISO can't say that they weren't warned.