As I had expected, the Windows 7 Release Candidate build (build 7100) has been leaked ahead of an official release by Microsoft.
I received confirmation early on Wednesday that build 7100 had been finalized and noticed early this morning that both the 32-bit and 64-bit flavors had been leaked to various P2P networks. Fake downloads had appeared yesterday but these were quickly removed. The latest downloads appear to be genuine.
A quick FAQ based on my Hardware 2.0 mailbag this morning:
Q: Are these latest leaked builds genuine? A: They appear to be. I can only be 100% certain when I compare them to an official .ISO of the RC build from Microsoft.
Q: Is the leaked build 32-bit or 64-bit? A: Both have been leaked.
Q: What are the build strings? A: 7100.0.090421-1700
Q: Can you point me to the downloads? A: No.
Q: Can you give me a copy? A: No.
Q: Can you give me the hashes of the builds? A: No, not until I am 100% sure than these are genuine.
Q: How big are the .ISO files? A: 32-bit: 2.36GB | 64-bit: 3.05GB
Q: Should I download/trust these leaked builds? A: My advice is that if you have to ask that question, you should wait for the official release from Microsoft. Do as I say, not as I do!
Q: Do you have an official release date for the RC? A: Everyone seems to be saying May 5th.
Q: Is the RC build on TechNet or MSDN yet? A: No.
Q: Does this new build have the new user interface that some were claiming it would have? A: Nope. All talk of a new "last minute" UI was nothing but unsubstantiated nonsense.
Q: Will you be publishing details/screenshots/information on the RC build? A: That's a tricky question, but it's worth answering in a little detail. Working in this business is a balancing act. While my main loyalty is to you, Constant Reader, I do have to juggle a number of other factors. I received access to the RC build code late last night via a contact but I didn't make any announcement about it because I knew that many of my colleagues are under NDAs and couldn't talk about Windows 7 RC (I'm not under any NDA). While it's "cool" to be the first to break a bit of news, it's not cool to just trample over the efforts of others who can't say anything because of an NDA. I made the decision to sit on the info I had as there was still a slim chance that the RC code wouldn't be leaked to the public for a while. It was leaked (and quickly), which is why I'm talking to you now. So the short answer to the question is yes, I will be publishing details ... but I'll keep my coverage to specific areas (which suits me fine since I have a lot of work to do and there's only so much a person can do!).