News that the retail version of Windows 7 has leaked to Bittorrent sites was all over the web in the last few days. Microsoft officially released this so called RTM-version to manufacturers on Wednesday, but torrent sites supposedly have been distributing the same version for about a week now. So how can downloaders be sure that they get a genuine Windows 7 copy, and not some rogue version full of malware?

Microsoft to the rescue! A member of the software giant's German subsidiary published a list of SHA1-hashes and CRC-values for various available image files on his blog yesterday. The blog entry describes a total of four versions, which are listed like this:

"Windows 7 Retail Ultimate E englisch (x86)
Name: 7600.16385.090713-1255_x86fre_cliente_en-us_Retail_UltimateE-GRMCEULFRER_EN_DVD.iso
SHA-1: 0xBC10F09B86DCBAF35B31B0E6FBA7D006ACAAD28D"

Torrent users - and anyone else who needs to make sure he got the right version - can use this list to verify the authenticity of their downloads, and pass on anything that doesn't seem to be kosher. Microsoft even provides its own checksum integrity verifyer utility for these kind of verifications.

The blog entry, which is in German, doesn't really mention piracy or torrent sites at all, and instead simply refers to "a lot of speculation" about the version number of Winodws 7 and similar issues. It does however close with the following words:

"Have fun!"

Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. So why would Microsoft do this? It's possible that the company has realized that problems caused by rogue copies could do far more harm than a few users that opt to torrrent their copy. Add to this the fact that you'd still need to activate this copy with a genuine key, and there's really not much to lose for Microsoft by lending pirates a helping hand.

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