A very early build of Windows 8, dubbed “Milestone 1”, has leaked onto the Internet, giving us our very first glimpse at Microsoft’s next operating system.

Since it’s such an early release, the OS still appears to be just a slightly tweaked version of Windows 7. But if you’re brave enough to install the leaked Windows 8, you may find some features that will eventually snowball into major upgrades over Windows 7.

We’ve already reported on a few new elements discovered in Windows 8 preview builds, including a Windows Phone-like login screen, and Office-like Ribbon toolbars. Developers already have access to a newer preview version of Windows 8, Milestone 2, and they expect to see Milestone 3 released around June. At this rate, Microsoft is expected to have a beta version of Windows 8 ready to roll this summer — and you can bet pirates will get their hands on that as well.

Windows 8 is at the heart of Microsoft’s tablet strategy, as the OS is expected to include a slew of new features aimed at multitouch tablet screens. It may also have deeper integration with cloud computing services, according to previous reports.

The final version of the operating system is expected to land in late 2012. For now, enjoy these illicit screenshots.

Via Electronista