UPDATED: Microsoft issued Whistler build 2410 to technical beta testers Thursday evening, the first new build since the release of Beta 1 in late October. No word yet on the new features, but this version of Whistler, which is the next version of Windows, now features some intriguing anti-piracy mechanisms that create a personal product identification code that is attached to the machine on which the OS is installed. If I understand the purpose of this new scheme, Microsoft is finally following through on its long-time threat to enforce its licensing policies, as each Windows license is technically attached to the machine on which it is first installed, and is not attached to the person that installed the product. With the new scheme, it will no longer be possible to use the same Product ID to install Windows to more than one machine.

Microsoft temporarily pulled this build Friday to fix a small problem; it was made available to testers again after several hours.

Whistler 2410 includes a number of new features, most of which are eye candy, such as some nice new high-color icons, a renaming of the Professional Theme to "Watercolor," and more. IE 6.0 is included, and includes the new Media and IM Explorer bars as reported previously in WinInfo. Contrary to reports elsewhere, this build does not include new Visual Styles; instead, a demonstration Theme is included to show how the UI can be changed, but sources at Microsoft told me this week that the company has no plans to release any sort of Theme builder application so that users can make their own UIs. In a controversial move obviously intended as a poke at Apple Computer, the Recycle Bin has been moved to the lower right of the Desktop by default, where the Mac's Trashcan is located. Also, much of the text in Whistler 2410 has been changed to read "Beta 2," though this, of course, is not yet Beta 2. However, given the timetable for Whistler's release, it's likely that we'll see Beta 2 within the next 60 days. I've been evaluating the new build since it was released Thursday evening and I'll have a full report on the SuperSite for Windows next week. Stay tuned to WinInfo for the most accurate and timely information about the Whistler beta. --Paul