Microsoft Details Transition to Windows 7 RC: No Easy Upgrade Option
Article by George Norman
On 08 Apr 2009
The next big event in the Windows 7 calendar, event that most Windows 7 Beta testers are anxiously awaiting, is the release of Windows 7 RC (Release Candidate), which comes with quite a few enhancements. While we wait for the Redmond-based company to put out Windows 7 RC, the development team behind the operating system is keeping us busy by providing a few details about the transition from Windows Vista or Windows 7 Beta Build 7000 to Windows 7 Release Candidate.

The first thing you need to know is that if you are running Windows 7 Beta on your machine, upgrading to the Release Candidate will not be an easy task. No matter what pre-RC build you have installed, upgrading to Windows 7 RC is not possible, unless you are willing put in a bit of elbow grease – reality which you will be faced with when the setup will inform you that your only option is to “exit gracefully”. The easy way out is perform a fresh install and then use Microsoft’s Easy Transfer feature to migrate data regarding your settings, files, accounts, and so on.


There is one other option at your disposal, but if you are running your machine on Windows 7 Beta full-time, you are probably not going to like it; nor are you going to like the extra work: you can install Windows Vista and upgrade from Vista to Windows 7 Release Candidate. The option to upgrade from Vista to Windows 7 RC has been made possible by Microsoft for one simple reason: the company wants to replicate a real-world situation in which a day-to-day user upgrades from Vista (the main OS Microsoft currently markets, although you could never tell from the recent Laptop Hunters ad campaign) to Windows 7. The company also wants to ensure that when Windows 7 reaches GA (General Availability), upgrading from the previous OS to the upcoming Windows 7 will go without a hitch.

“Many of you (millions) are running Windows 7 Beta full time. You’re anxious for a refresh. You’ve installed all your applications. You’ve configured and customized the system. You would love to get the RC and quickly upgrade to it from Beta. The RC, however, is about getting breadth coverage to validate the product in real-world scenarios. As a result, we want to encourage you to revert to a Vista image and upgrade or to do a clean install, rather than upgrade the existing Beta. We know that means reinstalling, recustomizing, reconfiguring, and so on. That is a real pain. The reality is that upgrading from one pre-release build to another is not a scenario we want to focus on because it is not something real-world customers will experience. During development we introduce changes in the product (under the hood) that aren’t always compatible with what we call “build-to-build” upgrade. The supported upgrade scenario is from Windows Vista to Windows 7,” explains Engineering Windows 7.

The reason why you will not be able to seamlessly upgrade from Windows 7 Beta, or other pre-RC Builds, to Windows 7 Release Candidate is because during the setup process the software will check for the version of the OS you have installed on your machine. The Windows 7 team has posted a workaround here, but you are advised not to use it unless you really have to.

“As an extended member of the development team and a participant in the Beta program that has helped us so much, we want to ask that you experience real-world setup and provide us real-world telemetry,” said the Windows 7 Team.

Tags: Microsoft, Windows 7, Windows 7 Release Candidate
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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