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With these pirated CDs, you get what you pay for

Dec 08, 20033 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsMicrosoft

* Pirated copies of Longhorn are missing a lot

In one of the stranger news stories of last week, Reuters was reporting that copies of Microsoft’s next operating system, codenamed Longhorn, were being sold on CDs in malls in Malaysia. Crooks were getting the equivalent of $1.58 – but what were the buyers getting?

Turns out this was a copy of the CD released at the recent Professional Developers’ Conference (PDC), officially known as “Build 4051” and was a special demo version built specifically for the programmers attending PDC so that they could get an early look at the new system. This was never considered a customer preview, still less a testable prototype. This is very early beta software, almost guaranteed not to work for very long before hopelessly trashing your system.

Many of the announced features of Longhorn aren’t even on the CD – some won’t even be in the official beta for six to 12 months – which was intended for developers to begin to test the APIs that will be available in the new system. Even the new user interface is missing, although the underlying technology (called “Avalon” and consisting of a number of abstraction layers) is there. For more about what’s in this particular build, see:

But don’t rush out to downtown Johor Bahru (the town in Malaysia where the pirated CDs were spotted) just yet. While $1.58 might be cheap for a preview of the new operating system, the taxi fare from wherever-you-are to Johor Bahru could make it the most expensive CD you ever bought.

The software itself is available to download from multiple fairly well-known pirate-CD Web sites (no, I won’t recommend one to you), but the downloader assumes all risks of spyware, Trojans, viruses, etc., when obtaining the release that way.

If you aren’t an official beta tester but feel you must have a copy of the software sooner than your neighbor, plan now to attend one of Microsoft’s major conferences (WinHEC, PDC, Tech Ed, etc.) where its almost certainly going to be handed out like popcorn. Just don’t expect to be able to do anything useful with these handouts for at least a year and a half or two when the official product preview should launch. This will be an almost complete version of the final release candidate and should give you all you need to plan your rollout – sometime in late 2006 or early 2007. You probably have more important things to pay attention to right now.