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Just a few days after Microsoft released the latest external beta build of Windows XP, number 2446, what looks like an internal build seems to be breaking loose - and there are pictures. From Microsoft's point of view the leaking of build 2454 is surely a more serious matter for Microsoft than previous code escapes, which have tended to be of external builds.

Microsoft issues some builds to external testers. The company does however produce a lot more internal builds in between these. So, for example, when it released the external 2446 at the beginning of this week it would have been on somewhere in excess of 2450 internally, and 2454 code might be to all intents and purposes current internal code.

But according to those claiming to have it, the leak came via an unnamed Microsoft hardware partner, rather than an embittered Redmond coder. It was, they say "leaked onto a public anon ftp server of a major chipset manufacturer... It was simply a .zip file with the contents of the CD in it and was protected with a 4 digit numeric zip password."

The server itself swiftly descended into bandwidth hell, but they claim to have the zip, and say they intend to release an ISO version of the file once they've tested it. The zipped version has however started to spread in the past couple of hours. We at The Register would be interested to hear more about the errant chipset manufacturer, and how it managed to slip up.

The screenshots of 2454, which you can currently see here, look plausible, and if genuine indicate that the current custodian (one Dennis DaMenaCe, apparently) is indeed running live code. Visually it's pretty much the same as the two last external builds, but given the claimed source of the leak it may be a build tailored to allow chip partners to check specific features. Favoured, chip partners, probably, because that's one of the things the more widely distributed 2446 was supposed to do as well.

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