Demystifying the MS Stance on BitTorrents

What’s the deal with the BitTorrent sites springing up to mirror the Beta 2 release of Windows Vista?  As you’re probably aware from reading this blog, we ran into some issues delivering the download of Windows Vista Beta 2 to everyone who wanted to test out the release.  Some of our fans (those with more resources at their disposal) very cleverly created a BitTorrent to mirror the files being offered in an attempt to alleviate the pressure our servers were under during the first weekend of release.  This was not something that we prompted them to do, but rather the guys at Lockergnome took it upon themselves to put up a site that offered a digitally verified copy of the same Beta 2 file we posted to  (For more on how BitTorrents work, check out the Wikipedia article.)


For those of you keeping score, the torrent has since been taken down per intervention by Microsoft’s Legal department, but not before serving thousands of community testers excited to get their hands on the latest public release of the OS.  Of course, being the responsible and stand-up guys that they are, Chris and Jake didn’t offer an altered version of the file, but instead were simply trying to make life easier for the more than 1,000,000 people who’ve been interested enough in Beta 2 release to take the time to download the >3GB file.


The long and the short of it is that while Microsoft cannot sanction another party to offer a mirrored version our software (what would you do if you downloaded what you thought was a valid copy of an OS from a non-Microsoft site, only to find out that you’d been duped into wiping your entire system and loading a spyware-laden OS onto your machine?  Yeah, I thought so.  Be careful what you ask for.), it is a testament to the ingenuity of our community that Jake & Chris took the initiative to meet the need before anyone even suggested going this route.  And for the record, my opinion on the matter is that despite our official corporate stance, it’s exemplary that a couple enthusiastic guys not only posted a link to the announcement that Beta 2 was available, but also made it easier for their fellow Windows aficionados to share in the excitement and get their own copies when the pipe got clogged.


So bravo, Chris and Jake!  It’s guys like you who make my job easier in the end J


(Just don‘t mess with the World Cup.)

Comments (19)
  1. Anonymous says:

    Our own Microsoft dudes Nick White and Aaron Coldiron present a framed cease-and-desist order of their

  2. Anonymous says:

    After the Windows Featured Communities Team presented Chris Pirillo and Jake Luddington with a framed…

  3. BlackTiger says:

    >>only to find out that you’d been duped into wiping your entire system and loading a spyware-laden OS onto your machine?


    Only in MS deeps such BS could be born! Are you heard about MD5 before?

  4. SonicChao says:

    BlackTiger, probably not. Only on Windows such non-sense can be born.

    >>(For more on how BitTorrents work, check out the Wikipedia article.)

    You’re advertising Wikipedia? I thought the MS Stance on GFDL was "Nooooooooooo. Everyone use Microsoft."

  5. BlackTiger says:

    Also MS hiring too much incompetent, but very "microsoft friendly", people, especially students (yes! why? bcos they know how to do something in "microsoft way", but not in "right way")…

    "integrated spyware" in Vista installation?!?!?!? 😀 🙂 Such a moronic nonsence!

    Are you joking? WHO CARES?!

    You are developing "most secure" OS ever, isn’t it?

    People installing Vista on their TEST(!!!) PCs aren’t "beginners", aren’t fools and even has MORE experience than many MS employees. We are already know HOW DANGEROUS IS YOUR SOFTWARE!

    This "excuse" about BitTorrent sounds too stupid and too "marketish"…

    MS Guys, sorry, but your are getting dumper and dumper (not all of you ofcos, but "bigger half")… What happend with you last 3-5 years? Vista sucked all of your smarteness? Too much people in "marketing department"? So fire them all!

    I’m (still) big Microsoft fan, but I just can’t see what you are doing! You definately need new rulers. Bill&Steve are just too old, their time is already gone.

  6. Peter says:

    ever heared of hashes?

    Whereas an http connection could get manipulated (e.g. transparent proxies) a torrent makes absolutely sure that ppl get the exact image.

    This argument is BS, sorry…

  7. ahahahahahahaha says:

    ahahah yeah right, altered msft software that would crash your boxen or cause dataloss…

    now we dont need altered msft software for that, those two features are already standard in msft software these days and come along for free.

    anyways, you people at microsoft do code-signing everyday at your oh-so-many servicepacks and hotfixes, and you guys also know about a bazillion safe hash algorithms and validity checks like fingerprints with md5, sha1, ripemd160 and so on.

    now nowbody could have guaranteed that vistatorrents are the unaltered stuff? so how come your claim in your blog posting that those two dudes from delivered unaltered stuff? man you guys are sure inconsistent in just one posting already.

    msft is just scared of community and open and free information stuff. opensource is just one enemy your company has, openeverything and open and a free world is the biggest thread to all these capitalistic companies around the globe.

    mankind will definitely evolve to some higher levels, unless it nukes itself out of existance ofcourse before.

    and thats more likely when ruled and suppressed by capitalistic and selfish people, than when pursuing community driven dreams and hopes and when sharing knowledge and power happily along for a better bigger and more open world.

    do i hear an amen? amen!

  8. Test Man says:

    >>>> Are you heard about MD5 before?

    Have you also heard that MD5’s isn’t a fool-proof method of verifying a file?  It’s well known that you can alter a file’s content without altering the MD5.  However unlikely or hard it is, it’s still possible.

  9. Nusi says:

    BlackTiger is right, MS isn’t.

    Other companies use Bittorrent for their products. Blizzard distributes via bittorrent. If there would be any usefull possiblity to be evil and hack blizzard’s downloads, ppl would have done it already.

    Customers either use bittorrent or keep on using the old http downloads.

    MS should have the balls to say they made a mistake. They shouldn’t have the need to send 2 developers to the frontline and let them blog-lie to their customers.

  10. Jagshemash says:

    If you think their sftwre is BS then don’t download it. Shut up and go elsewhere. Bleat bleat bleat …… go play with your Linux box’s instead.  They have every right to state everything they have posted. Get over it geeks

  11. David says:

    To Peter and others: MD5s don’t help a bit (pun intended) here, because a site hosting a malicious torrent will of course also have checksums of the malicious ISO for you to compare to. How many do you think cross checked with the SHA1 on MS’s site? It’s very understandable that MS don’t want people to get used to downloading their software from third parties.

    Now, the thing that I would like to ask MS is: Will you consider hosing .torrent files and run a tracker for them yourselves? That would be no less secure than an http download. Host the .torrent on https and you can sleep well at night knowing that customers get the right bits without hosing your lines.

  12. Oliver says:

    Hint to the Winblog / MS: host your own Bittorrent tracker, and publish that tracker URL. That should ensure that people get the correct Vista image.

    Of course, that will not necessarily help against the other problem mentioned:

    > […] only to find out that you’d been duped into wiping your entire system and loading a spyware-laden OS onto your machine?

    Yeah, that’s pretty much what I thought after installing Windows on my Dad’s PC 😀

    J/k; will go back playing with my Linux box now 😉

  13. NetWizard says:

    I can’t believe that you believe what you’ve written. I assume that you know something about computers and that should include some knowledge about checksums and hashs… (especially if you READ the Wikipedia article you’re linking to).

    So please don’t post such stupid things like "spyware-laden OS" (in fact Windows has a strong affinity to call home… some would judge that as spyware-like behaviour). The easiest way for you would have been to post the hash (e.g. MD5, CRC32, …) of the correct file and all would have been happy – ah no, not all, not the people at your company who want to know every step your customers take.

    But even that is solvable: You put your own tracker online. It’s not that hard. Than you could control all IPs (log them), save bandwith AND make some more customers/testers happy…




    guru@linux:~> who | grep -i blonde | talk;

    cd ~; wine; talk; touch; unzip; touch;

    strip; gasp; finger; mount; fsck; more;

    yes; gasp; umount; make clean; sleep;

  14. This of course assumes that the Torrent user would know how to use a hash – I know people who use torrents who don’t.

    Still a MS torrent would be a logical step. It’d be nice to have a simple client in Vista for people that aren’t in the know.

  15. David says:

    I’m have to support Lex here. I’ve been using the ‘net since before Mosaic, and I’m sorry to say I’ve never once done a hash check or even found out even how. I know I should! But I never have. The average user? Forget it.

    Still, an MS seed sounds sensible.

  16. David Sinclair says:

    Hi, I have lost my PID for Windows Vista beta 2. Is there any way to recover it, it was registered using Unfortunately I deleted all messages on my hotmail account before realizing that the image I saved was just a blank sticker label.

    Please help me out.


    David Sinclair

  17. bhum says:

    hey you developers. perhaps you didnt noticed that the webmaster haven’t done his job correctly.

    doesnt matter which browser you use, the microsoft webserver was telling the browser, that the filesize is eg. 300MB … for a DVD iso!

    Cause this some ppl and myself made a FTP/HTTP mirror for the files so all the ppl can download a valid iso image without testing and trying how to get a valid one.

    i provided the files only via FTP (proftpd, debian stable) cause apache2 can’t handle sizes above 2GB, proftpd can!

    since M$ closed the public beta i deleted the files,  what the others done i dont know.

    i know, you (M$) told us not to provide the files…ok, but then stop make working thinks buggy! Everyone except Microsoft was able to provide the files with the correct file sizes…

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