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Microsoft's Whistler leaked onto Web again

It's happened again: A test copy of Whistler, the software giant's future operating system for consumers, has found its way onto the Internet.

    It's happened again: A test copy of Whistler, a future Microsoft operating system for consumers, has leaked onto the Internet.

    Last month, an earlier prototype of Whistler, the code name for a future version of Windows, was posted to the Web. Another newer prototype was leaked today, according to Bob Stein of Active Win, a Windows enthusiast site, which first reported the earlier breach.

    Whistler is expected to be the next major Microsoft operating system release after Windows Me, an update to Windows 98 due out later this year.

    For its part, Microsoft says it is investigating the incident and has not yet come to any conclusions about how the internal test builds are being released to the Internet. The software giant says it is uncertain who is responsible for the leaks, or whether this most recent posting is in fact a prototype of Whistler.

    Stein, however, states that the code posted today looks like another version of Whistler. After ActiveWin reported on the previous posting of Whistler to the Web, Microsoft subsequently confirmed that a copy of Whistler got posted, and started a search for those who leaked it. The company has not commented on the results of that search.

    Whistler is intended Windows 2000: The next generationas a consumer operating system based on Windows 2000, the company's recently released operating system for corporate buyers. Touted as more secure, reliable and stable than Windows 95 or Windows 98, Windows 2000 will serve as the cornerstone of Microsoft's operating system strategy for the foreseeable future for both the consumer and corporate markets.

    The code leaked today is a more recent version of Whistler than the previous version, according to Stein. Whistler will reportedly include tighter integration with the MSN Web client and more overall integration with the Internet.

    Microsoft generally keeps its software development projects under tight security, requiring non-disclosure agreements from beta testers and partners. Although details about specific features from upcoming software projects have leaked out in the past, these types of internal breaches are unusual.

    "Either a member of the development team working on this project or somebody who has access to the company's intranet" leaked the code, an email from Active Win's Bob Stein said. "It is probably the same person who released Build 2211.1 (the internal identification number of the first leaked version) back in mid-March. If that is the case, Microsoft failed to locate the leak and further builds and other confidential information may be released in the future."