A Chinese edition of Windows 8, reportedly the same build that Microsoft will launch in the next week as the Release Preview, has leaked to file-sharing sites.
On Tuesday, links to Build 8400 of Windows 8 appeared on multiple sites and discussion forums, many of them Chinese-language destinations.
According to multiple reports on the Web, Build 8400 is legitimate and has successfully been installed by some users. "Canouna", the nickname used by an administrator of the WinLeaked forum, vouched for the download.
"100% LEGIT," Canouna tweeted early Tuesday.
Others, however, called the leak "a wild goose chase" because one widely shared link pointed to a corrupted file.
The only edition available Tuesday was the 64-bit version for Chinese users.
Microsoft has not disclosed the debut date of Windows 8 Release Preview -- the name for what the company has called "release candidate" in the past -- but has promised it would make the final public milestone available the first week of June.
While most have assumed that meant the week starting Monday, June 4, more recent speculation has focused on this Friday, June 1.
Screenshots of Build 8400 posted on the Internet show it was compiled May 18, prompting many to conclude that Friday was likely.
Leaks of upcoming Windows releases are not uncommon. In the run-up to Windows 7's launch three years ago, pirated copies appeared regularly, from the October 2008 leak of an "alpha" version Microsoft meant only for developers to Windows 7 Release Candidate, which went public about two weeks before Microsoft officially launched the preview.
The company has avoided much of that with Windows 8, but whether the cause was more stringent controls on its part, lack of interest in the upgrade, the general suppression of file-sharing sites or other factors, is unknown.
Previously, Microsoft has warned users not to install leaked builds, claiming that they can be infected with malware.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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