Windows leak site BuildFeed closes down

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After five years of leaking information about unreleased builds of Windows, BuildFeed has shut up shop.

Over the weekend, the site posted a slew of build numbers including references to onecore and shell_devices_foldable. But there will be no more leaks coming from the BuildFeed. Citing "extensive internal pressures and external pressures", site founder Thomas Hounsell says that he has terminated his project with immediate effect.

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There has been a great deal of speculation about the sudden disappearance of the site, but Hounsell is insists that Microsoft is not directly responsible. He stresses: "Microsoft has not and as never issued a Cease & Desist to BuildFeed. They have never explicitly asked that the website has been taken down. They have never (directly) asked me to disclose the sources for the site. They have played their hand far too well to stoop to such messy and clumsy tactics".

In a goodbye message entitled "Checking out", Hounsell explains a little about the closure:

When I started up BuildFeed over five years ago, I never expected it to grow as large and as widely used as it has been. I've not been involved in the day to day running of BuildFeed for over two years now. I left that in the hands of a few trustworthy friends, and I and the users of the site owe a debt of gratitude to these men. Without them, this day would have arrived some time ago.

You've probably noticed some funky build strings pop up on BuildFeed lately. That's because a Microsoft employee posted them on BuildFeed. For those interested parties, don't bother coming to me. I have no IP logs, I have no "inside" insight as to what our mutual friend has been up to. Could you find out who it is? Sure, just look on Twitter and see who was posting build tags ahead of BuildFeed. He's not been remotely discreet and he handed out the strings to plenty of others before BuildFeed accepted them.

The long term future of BuildFeed has been in doubt for some time, but events over the past few days have resolved things in my mind. Given extensive internal pressures and external pressures (and yes, Microsoft is one of those relentless and ever-present external pressures), I have found myself unable to commit to running BuildFeed on the principles it was founded upon. In light of this, I have made the decision to terminate BuildFeed with immediate effect. The truth is that were it not for my failings, this day would not have come; and were it not for the persistent activities by third parties to force us offline, this day would not have come either.

The good-ish news for you is that what Tom giveth, Tom cannot always take away. You have the source code, safe on GitLab. Additionally, since many people have contributed to the database of build strings over the years, I'd feel a bit ashamed to take that away, so here's that database dumped into a JSON file. I would encourage anyone to take up the challenge and continue the desire I had those many years ago, to establish a truly authoritive build list.

Following inaccurate reporting about the closure, Hounsell posted an addendum insisting that Microsoft had not tried to close the site down. He also says:

  • The timing of this closure has everything to do with the internal pressures I mentioned and nothing to do with the external pressures such as Microsoft. Were Microsoft not placing any pressure on BuildFeed, I doubt there'd be an issue, but it's also true that had I not made some mistakes in the past, there would be little to no internal pressures and we wouldn't be looking to close either.
  • Indeed, ultimately, the internal pressures are ultimately the deciding factor. Those of you that know me, know that I am not one to merely accept someone elses' orders, even if they are from a large multinational corporation. However, it has for a while been a question of "When" rather than "If" for BuildFeed's closure, and I'll admit that this incident merely brought things to a head. In the end, I felt it better to jump rather than be pushed, and get ahead of things before external factors started making decisions for me.

Image credit: Lazaros Papandreou / Shutterstock

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