NEW YORK -- Reports surfaced over the weekend that an early version of Windows 7 has appeared on the Web, but so far only a couple of users claim to have seen the OS, and Microsoft won't confirm such a version exists.
Several bloggers report that Windows 7 Milestone 1, which reportedly was sent out to OEM (original equipment manufacturer) partners earlier this month, has appeared online for download via the BitTorrent protocol. (Here's a video purporting to show an early alpha version of Windows 7. Microsoft won't comment.)
While most reports said the torrents that are supposed to be the milestone do not actually contain the OS software, a couple of Web users claim to have installed and used the software.
A member of the Neowin.net user community, who goes by the online handle "Kenipnet," claims in a post to the blog to have installed Windows 7 on his laptop, though the user claims he was "disappointed" by the OS because it didn't work very well. Neowin is an online community for technology enthusiasts.
"On my primary machine, it asked for my SATA driver (never happened when installing Vista, as my drives were set as IDE in BIOS)," "Kenipnet" wrote in the post. "After adding the driver from my USB thumb drive, it would finally install. It didn't boot after first restart, however. On my laptop it installed perfectly, but with no driver support for the video card. After numerous tries I gave up in the end, so Aero is now left in the dark."
A YouTube user called "zhouxiaohu" posted a video showing a computer that appears to be running Windows 7. The user, who is from China, insisted in English on his Web site that the screenshots of the OS are not fake.
"I'm not a person who makes himself complacent by faking something hot, neither will I be unhappy if someone denies the real information I posted," the post said. Most of the thinknext.net Web site, however, is not written in English. The site also has a blog entry whose headline is: "Windows 7 More Screenshots and Screencast."
Windows 7 is the follow-up to Windows Vista, and Microsoft has said it would likely be released in late 2009 or early 2010. Through its public relations firm Monday, Microsoft would not confirm that an early version went out to OEMs, despite reports in the blogosphere to the contrary. The company said it is not ready to discuss any specifics on the next version of Windows 7 and is instead focused on continued adoption of Vista.
It's still unclear if the Windows 7 reports are indeed valid, though it proved good fodder for Internet chatter. A post over the weekend on the Neowin Web site said most of the reports that Windows 7 was available online were false alarms, though users were still replying Monday.
"Anonymous pirates vying to snatch credit for the first Windows 7 torrent have only served to frustrate, with many of the downloaders later verifying the various submissions as fake zero byte ISO images," according to the post. "While we haven't been able to verify for ourselves if indeed a valid Win7 image has been leaked to the pirating community, it sure is stirring up a lot of interest in the past 24 hours!"