Microsoft mellows, embraces Windows leaks

Microsoft didn't seem bothered about another leak of Windows 10.

"How could we be upset about lots of people wanting to try our new stuff" tweeted Gabe Aul, the engineering general manager for Microsoft's operating system group in a reply to a comment applauding his company's "refreshing" attitude about leaks. "We'd prefer you stick to official builds though."

Aul was referring to a new version of Windows 10, designated "Build 9901," that leaked to file-sharing websites over the weekend.

His commentary was in contrast to positions Microsoft has taken previously, when it has, if not hampered the distribution of leaks, then at least been more forceful in urging users not to run unofficial builds, claiming that they were often infected with malware.

Although Microsoft has released several updates to its Windows 10 Technical Preview since that sneak peak first shipped Oct. 1, last month the company said it would not publicly issue any additional builds before the end of the year. Several Twitter users responding to Aul cited that as the reason why they were installing Build 9901.

Aul took the newest leak in stride: His only caution to those installing the build was that they would not be able to use Windows Update to retrieve the official 9901 when it launches, presumably alongside Microsoft's planned event on Jan. 21, or very shortly after.

"If you install 9901, the next build will not come to you automatically. You'll have to install it via ISO," Aul said, again on Twitter, about an installation process that relied on a disk image file.

Even that was not deliberate, Aul said, but simply a bug in Build 9901.

While Aul's stance on leaks could be seen as evidence of a kinder, gentler Microsoft -- one more open in its dealings with customers than the secretive approach it took with Windows 8 three years ago -- it could also be interpreted as making lemonade out of lemons.

Leaks are inevitable for major companies with large supplier or partner ecosystems, as rival Apple can attest. Like leaks about upcoming Apple products, those of Microsoft's operating system can spur enthusiasts to, well, enthuse in blogs and comments appended to those blogs, driving conversation about the upcoming OS and keeping it in the news.

The reports of Build 9901's contents have said the update includes some functionality of Cortana, Microsoft's voice-driven personal assistant, and numerous user interface tweaks.

Windows 10's final release date has not been set by Microsoft, but the latest timetable has it pegged for the early fall of 2015, according to the company's chief operating officer, Kevin Turner.


Gregg Keizer

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