A second post-beta build of Windows 7 has leaked to file-sharing sites on the Web, according to searches at BitTorrent trackers.
A search on Mininova.org, for example, found several instances of Windows 7 Build 7048, a bootable .iso disk image of the operating system's 64-bit edition. The last leaked build was numbered 7022, which hit BitTorrent three weeks ago.
Build 7048 first appeared on Mininova on Monday.
Although several users who downloaded the new build reported that they were unable to get it to run, others confirmed that the pirated 7048 worked. "Using right now, works fine," said one Mininova user, identified as SoLoR.
Another user, alen666, claimed that 7048 is not a release candidate build. "7048 is a pre-RC1 compile of Windows 7 and is not likely to become the final RC1 build," the user said in a comment on Mininova.
Microsoft has not spelled out a ship date for Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC), but it has acknowledged that because it will issue just the one beta, the RC will be the next public release. Windows 7's fast development pace is in contrast to its predecessor, Windows Vista, which went through multiple betas and multiple release candidates.
Build 7048 downloading has been brisk. Wednesday, Mininova reported one BitTorrent had been downloaded more than 21,000 times, although that copy has since vanished from the tracking site. Thursday, the two available BitTorrents totaled about 10,000 downloads.
Windows 7 has regularly leaked to the Web since previews were first handed out last October to attendees at Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference. Since then, other versions have appeared on BitTorrent, including a pirated copy of what was later released Jan. 10 as the public beta.
Windows 7 Build 7048 has drawn attention for reasons other than leaking to the Web. According to reports from a pair of bloggers, the build is the first that lets users remove the executable file for Internet Explorer 8. Some have speculated that the new option may be an attempt by Microsoft to mollify European Union antitrust regulators, who have accused the company of stifling competition by bundling IE with Windows and may demand that it provide users the means to eliminate IE from their PCs.