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An image “leaked” onto the Internet claiming to be from the new Windows operating system. Its authenticity is widely disputed.

Microsoft a leaky boat

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Blogs and Internet forums were busy this week with rumours of a new Windows operating system codenamed Windows 7, following a report on news website TG Daily. The news site claimed "several industry sources" have confirmed shipment of the Milestone 1 code to key partners for validation.

TG Daily also reportedly received a roadmap confirming Microsoft's plan to release the new operating system for the latter half of 2009. This comes a year earlier than the current official projected release date of Windows 7.

Milestone 1--also known as M1--is said to be the first of three installments of Win7 code to be released, with M2 on its way in the next couple months and M3 by the end of the year. TG Daily reports that the current Milestone has the ability to support a graphics system consisting multiple video cards from different vendors.

Initially, rumours of the new operating system had been circulating on the Internet following several screenshots purported to be of the new version of Windows, but were widely considered to be cheap fakes mocked up by a nitpicky computer nerd after several obvious spelling errors were pointed out on the screenshots of the user interface.

A post on Neowin.net's forums incited further speculation earlier this week when a brief review of the new build was posted on the forum and then quickly deleted by the poster. A cached version of the post was shortly reposted by a forum moderator and has since received a great deal of analysis from the online community as to its validity. Although some consider the information contained within the post to be fake, user MSBob on blog site istartedsomething.com confirmed the validity of the post with a lengthy response yesterday.

Whether it is reasonable to accept an anonymous confirmation to a claim made by another anonymous person aside, many speculators are relatively certain the posts are indeed authentic leaks. Still, many are still unconvinced by a gross lack of evidence in the form of screen shots.

In the news and on forums, some people are speculating as to the consumer reaction to the replacement of Vista after only three years, given Windows XP's 5-year lifespan. Some are optimistic that the new operating system will be the awesomest thing ever, if only to make up for Vista's perceived failure.

What is known for certain at this point is that Microsoft has been preoccupied with the future of the Windows operating system for quite some time now. In Oct., Eric Traut unveiled what is being referred to internally as MinWin, a barebones kernel weighing in at 25 megabytes that can run smoothly with 40 megs of RAM. So far, this is the only verifiable information about the future of Windows 7. Everything else at this point has been little more than hearsay.

I can understand why everyone is crapping themselves over the possibility of a new operating system. Over the years, Windows has certainly had its share of problems, but there are several reasons it has continued to be the most popular operating system in the world-most of which probably have to do with application compatibility. Still, if Microsoft managed to use its billions of dollars to force its way into the console gaming industry by running at a loss, they can certainly come back from Vista in an industry which they're top-ranked in.

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