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Windows 7 RC Nears, and There Will Be Pain

Windows 7 beta testers will experience some pain when moving to the release candidate (RC) version of the operating system when it comes out, Microsoft officials explained on Tuesday.

Microsoft is still not telling the public when the RC version of Windows 7 will appear, but company officials did answer a nagging question from beta testers on whether there will be a direct upgrade path from the beta to the RC. The answer is no, but there's a makeshift workaround of sorts.

The workaround consists of seven steps to avoid version checking. It causes the operating system to read the beta as Build 7000. The steps are listed in Microsoft's blog here. However, Microsoft cautions that going this route might result in "some oddities" after the upgrade to the RC.

Instead of doing the workaround, the Microsoft team would prefer that beta testers do a clean install of the Windows 7 RC and use the Windows Easy Transfer feature to move accounts, files and settings. Alternatively, Microsoft would like beta testers to "revert to a Vista image and upgrade." Following those two options means that applications will have to be installed all over again on the test machine.

A Microsoft TechNet library document provides a full description of Windows 7 beta upgrade options here.

The team's point in causing such pain for beta testers -- many of whom have been running the beta "full time" -- is to get testing info from "real-world" operating system migration scenarios. For the sake of harvesting such user-experience data, Microsoft would like beta testers to feel a little pain, rather than upgrade.

Microsoft is discouraging people from using leaked builds of the Windows 7 beta, which have been popping up on BitTorrent sites, explaining that "you really never know what else has been done to the build."

Another disappointment for many is that the Windows 7 team has confirmed that there will be no upgrade path to the Windows 7 product from Windows XP. Those using XP will either have to upgrade to Vista first or do a clean install of Windows 7 when it's released as a product.

Rumors have suggested that Windows 7 RC might appear as early as this May. The RC is the testing stage before Microsoft distributes the OS to PC manufacturers for commercial release. Microsoft has estimated early 2010 for Windows 7's final product release.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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