The Blogger weblog "Winners of Life" has published 17 screenshots that are supposedly coming from the latest milestone build of Windows 7. The screenshots have this UFO quality to them - you know, we live in a world where even the cheapest of photo cameras (and videocameras too) can shoot high quality pictures, yet almost every UFO or alien photograph is blurry, dark, and ambiguous. Flickr is filled with 12 megapixel photographs of red-eyed pets, but a photograph of what could be the most profound discovery ever? Let's shoot those with a 1930s camera. That's the category these Windows 7 screenshots fall into.
There are more clues as to why these appear to be fake. Every image shows a completely different approach to user interface design, and while Microsoft may not exactly be the bastion of graphical consistency in user interfaces, these shots take it a few steps too far. There are 17 shots, and 16 of them show a completely different type of desktop. It is highly unlikely that Microsoft would release a milestone build of Windows 7 with 16 different user interfaces.
Another clue that these are decidedly fake is that one of them makes use of the nuoveXT 2 icon set - the 'home' and 'network' icons are clearly taken from this icon set. When it comes to icon design, Microsoft has a long-standing partnership with The Icon Factory, which designed the icons for both Windows XP as well as Windows Vista, so it is not likely they will resort to using LGPL icons for Windows 7.
The final nail in the coffin, though, is the shot of the
winver dialog. The Windows version reported in this dialog is the Windows 7 Milestone 1 build, released somewhere in January of 2008 - not some May 2008 build as PC World suggests - and there are screenshots out there to prove it.
The error here is over at PC World, and not at the actual source blog. The source blog does not claim the screenshots are somehow real (nor does it state that they are fake), so you can hardly blame them for it. Instead of assuming leaked screenshots are real, and then stating "...but they might be fake", they, and other websites, should do it the other way around: assume that leaked screenshots are fake, and then state, "...but they might be real".
Windows 7 is probably not all that distinguishable from Windows Vista at this point, but who knows - like I said, these shots might be real.