Malaysian pirates have managed to successfully raid versions of a beta stage operating system code-named 'Longhorn' and are already marketing the software before Microsoft's intended release date in 2005.
To make matters worse, Longhorn is being sold on the streets of the Malaysian city Johor Baru for less than $2, more than a 99 percent markdown from its mainstream market value.
The piracy hit against Microsoft has stolen its thunder over what was intended to be one of the most innovative software releases in years. According to Microsoft, Longhorn is a huge improvement over XP. The software comes with next-generation security, storage, search, and multi-media functionality and is less likely to crash, a common complaint with XP.
The new operating system will include a highly touted data and file system called WinFS and a security technology called Next-Generation Secure Computing Base.
Microsoft has downplayed the act of piracy by stating that the operating system is still in the development stage and that installing the software could possibly compromise its functionality.
The software giant is no stranger to similar acts of piracy, according to the BBC. Nearly every version of its outgoing software products has been pirated in some form or another.
Versions of Longhorn were distributed to several thousand programmers at Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference in October. At the conference, Bill Gates was quoted as saying that Longhorn would be "the biggest release of this decade, the biggest since Windows 95."
According to the BBC, Malaysia is a notorious hub for intellectual property piracy. In May, the Malaysian authorities shut down dozens of shops selling pirated films.
The Business Software Alliance claims that 68 per cent of new software used in Malaysia last year was pirated.