In case you’re not keeping up with technology news, Microsoft sent out the latest beta of its new Windows 7 operating system last week, and it ‘somehow’ ended up on the torrents, for anyone to download and install on their machine. I have it installed on 2 of my laptops, my old Gateway MX6956 and my Fujitsu P1610 (dual-booting with XP). Simply put, it’s phenomenal. However, that’s not the reason for this post.
There’s been alot of speculation as to whether or not Microsoft itself put the Windows 7 Beta on the various torrent sites, which are normally a haven for media pirates and ‘cracked’ software. No one really knows for sure, and it’s not likely we will. However, it’s an interesting discussion, specifically due to the conversation about leaks happening in the mobile industry, where most of my writing occurs.
In 2008, Nokia battled product leaks with a vengeance. Despite its attempts, all but one of the 13 S60-powered smartphones that Nokia announced in 2008 were leaked. In the case of the E71, there were full video reviews on the internet MONTHS before the phone was actually announced. The 5800 XpressMusic, Nokia’s first S60-powered touchscreen smartphone, was technically leaked by the company, thanks to its cameo in The Dark Knight, this summer’s hottest film. Many bloggers have pondered whether Nokia seeded any of the unofficial leaks, such as the E71 (I would bet money that they didn’t).
Either way, the question isn’t really ‘are’ leaks good, but rather, *can* they be good? The answer to that, of course, is a resounding YES. In the public’s eye, leaks are exciting – they have the allure of the forbidden fruit, so to speak. With the Windows 7 situation, Microsoft is well positioned to gain from people loading up unauthorized copies – it’s a solid piece of code. On my Fujitsu P1610, which only has a Core Solo 1.2GHz processor and 1GB of RAM, it boots and runs several seconds faster than even Windows XP, which is regarded currently as the best Windows OS on the market.
They’ve also improved the install/setup process dramatically. On my Gateway laptop, it was roughly 45 minutes from when I clicked the big ‘Install Now’ button to when I had popped in a DVD to settle in with a movie with Mrs. Guru. That’s nearly unheard of for ANY operating system, much less Windows.
What do you think? Can companies use leaks like Windows 7 Beta Build 7000 to their advantage, or is all a lost cause? Even Nokia, I’ve noticed, is getting less flustered over leaks, and taking the proper stance of accepting the challenge of announcing an unleaked product. At Nokia World 2008 in December, the company proudly boasted that neither Engadget nor Gizmodo (two of the largest gadget blogs, known for running leaks) had leaked the N97, and even joked about it slightly.