Microsoft has been taking some heat lately for not listening to testers' feedback on Windows 7 as it insists that the operating system is essentially complete.
Now it seems pirates and bootleggers in South East Asia are starting to cash-in on Windows 7's status as almost done.
Bootleg copies of 32-bit editions of Windows 7 Ultimate have reportedly already gone on sale in the Philippines for between 50 and 70 pesos ($1.02 and $1.44).
This isn't the first time new versions of Windows have appeared in the black market ahead of that particular version's official release. It happened to Windows Vista and Windows XP.
What's notable this time is the bootlegs surfaced during a Windows development cycle that's seen Microsoft criticized for cutting corners on feedback and testing to ship product.
Those complaints have come from technical beta testers uneasy with the pace of the Windows 7 test program. No second beta is due with Microsoft planning on going straight to the release candidate phase.
So stable is the Windows 7 beta that individuals at some partners are beginning to feel confident enough to run this instead of Windows Vista on their PCs.
The company has gone on to get flack for releasing a washing list of changes it's making to Windows 7, to demonstrate it really is taking feedback seriously.
Whether the majority of work on Windows 7 is done or not, anyone getting hold of a bootleg copy is likely in for a disappointment. Illegal copies will lack the official product activation key, which - once activated - would let you get updates to the software from Microsoft's update servers. A knock-off copy of Windows 7, therefore, will be a snap shot of the planned operating system that's frozen in time. ®