Microsoft Halts Unauthorized Vista Downloads

The software giant issued a cease-and-desist to the operators of VistaTorrent, which had offered downloads of its latest beta test software release. The sites' founders say they were only trying to help.

Microsoft has forwarded a cease-and-desist order to, asking the sites operators to stop their distribution of the latest beta test version of the Windows Vista operating system.

Company spokesmen noted that it is Microsofts standard practice to stop third parties from unauthorized distribution of its products, as the software giant said it cannot guarantee the authenticity or security of any code that is not supplied via its own channels.

"We appreciate that people are excited about obtaining Windows Vista Beta 2, and we encourage anyone interested in experiencing the Beta to visit the official Web site," the company said in a statement.

VistaTorrent was launched by a pair of Microsoft enthusiasts who contend they only decided to create the download site when other developers began complaining of issues with the software makers official Vista Beta 2 distribution.

Chris Pirillo, who created the site along with Jake Ludington, said that he understands Microsofts need to protect its intellectual property, and holds no grudge for the VistaTorrent cease-and-desist, but he said he believes the company is making a mistake by stopping such legitimate efforts to help dispense its products.

While VistaTorrent made no attempt to hide its work and existed primarily to help people find the original, unaltered version of the beta release, others are covertly providing the same service without the same level of transparency, Pirillo said.

As he is well-known throughout the Windows community as the founder of Lockergnome, a popular software information site, Pirillo said he has a reputation to protect by ensuring VistaTorrents legitimacy and security.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more about early reactions to Vista Beta 2.

"People are still sharing the file anyways, we were simply trying to help people who couldnt use Microsofts download and willing to put our names on it," he said.

"The last thing we want to see is our reputation ruined for distributing some altered version of the beta, and there a lot of people in the software community who dont want to have to guess if they are getting something different from an anonymous source."

Microsoft has already stopped unrestricted access to the Vista Beta 2 software as demand for the program threatened to cripple the companys other online services.

Many people attempting to get their hands on the software have complained of issues with Microsofts download manager, reporting that the client either crashes or hangs up for long periods of time when they try to access the beta.

Pirillo, who says he remains upbeat about the situation and a devoted Microsoft enthusiast, contends that if Microsoft were to allow recognized sources of legitimate downloads to help parcel out its software, or somehow certify organizations that would like to do so, the company could rapidly gets its products to larger numbers of customers.

As an example of how the scenario can work effectively, Pirillo pointed to his recent work helping well-known parody musician Weird Al Yankovic get a copy of his latest song into the hands of waiting fans.

When demand for the tune repeatedly forced Yankovics official site downloads to fail or slow down, Pirillo, who formerly operated a fan site for the artist, moved the file to his own server, where it has been downloaded several hundred thousand times.

"Weve already helped tens of thousands of people get their hands on the legitimate Vista file, and it would seem like thats pretty advantageous for Microsoft," he said.

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