The public flogging of The Pirate Bay achieved... not much. 'Law-abiding' folk still merrily download pirate media, copyright holders impotently wring their hands on the sidelines. Same same, match match.

It's tough to persuade web-suspicious vendors there's cash to be had online. To rake it in, they must let go of their wares. Film makers won't control the web cashflow until there's an iTunes for movies, with ad-supported flick-streaming websites for good measure.

But movie execs don't consume media on the web, so trusting the thrusting young marketers who point them that way is a leap of faith worthy of a movie.

Which makes more laudable Microsoft's decision to allow the world and its aunt to download and install a feature-complete version of Windows 7. Microsoft has a less-than-glorious internet history. To grab the browser industry, it had to abuse its OS ubiquity. And when Google's onslaught began, an unprepared Microsoft could only shuffle its feet and mumble about ‘software AND a service'. Deeply uninspiring stuff.

But the whelmed welcome the world gave to Windows Vista has had a purging effect. Microsoft cannot afford to fail again. It needs to win early hearts and minds with Windows 7, and must provide a path to Windows 7 for the Vista-phobics who stayed true to XP.

By making the Windows 7 release candidate available free to the public, Microsoft will build up good will, test the software, and create a hefty userbase of early adopters likely to buy licences when the full product launches. The added benefit is that at launch the Windows 7 piracy market will be tiny - why buy knock-off software when you can download it for free?

So hats off to Microsoft - clearly much more confident with Windows 7 than it ever was with Vista. And note to Messrs Warner and Fox: when the online trial-and-buy penny drops even with Microsoft, it may be time to look into this internet thing. The web works.