Microsoft roots out Windows Home Server leak

Leak to thehotfix.net didn't come from an MVP, says company

Microsoft said Tuesday it had identified the person who had leaked the still-in-beta Windows Home Server to the Web. According to both the company and messages from the site where the beta was once posted, however, earlier reports that the leaker was a Microsoft MVP were incorrect.

Last week, several news outlets ran stories about a Microsoft investigation into a leak of the Windows Home Server (WHS) code to thehotfix.net Web site. The stories cited an e-mail sent by Kevin Beares, the Windows Home Server community lead at Microsoft, to all MVPs (Most Valuable Professionals) named "Richard." MVP is the Microsoft designation for a group of developers and others who the company believes make significant contributions to users; many MVPs are active in various beta tests that Microsoft runs.

According to the news reports, Beares' e-mail told all the Richards that their access to the WHS preview would be terminated until the source of the leak was determined.

"We take public distribution of pre-release software very seriously," wrote Charlie Kindel, a WHS product manager, on the team's blog. "The leak was unfortunate, and we took action to find the parties responsible." Kindel also said that the culprit was not named Richard, and wasn't an MVP. "We're happy to clarify that no MVPs were involved in this breach," he added.

On thehotfix.net, meanwhile, two users owned up to posting the beta code. "I gave richard access to my account to access the private Beta to leak onto the web," wrote Jordan M., whose profile pegs him as hailing from Australia, on a message forum at thehotfix.net. "I have already contacted Microsoft appologised [sic] and they have termminated [sic] my access to the beta."

Meanwhile, a user from the U.K. identified as Richard wrote, "Look, we have sorted this out with MSFT!!!" and begged others to stop pestering him with anonymous e-mail.

Ethan Allen, owner of thehotfix.net, said he had complied with Microsoft's demand that he remove the WHS beta from his site.

This is the second time this month that Microsoft and thehotfix.net have butted heads. Two weeks ago, the Redmond, Wash., developer told Allen to stop posting Windows Vista hotfixes. Allen yielded to Microsoft then as well. "I'm not trying to get into trouble with them," he said.

Windows Home Server, which shifted into public beta in mid-February, is a heavily modified version of Windows Server 2003 SP2 designed to back up home PCs and allow group storage and file sharing on a home network. Unlike other editions of Windows, it won't ship separately, but only as the OS of new storage appliances from the likes of Hewlett-Packard Co. Earlier schedules indicated its release this summer, but lately Microsoft has been keeping quiet about the product's rollout schedule.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
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