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Windows 7 RC is now available. What is the expiration and upgrade path for it?

  • Upgrade to official Windows release -- will it be painless, or would it require a reformat / reinstall of all apps.
  • Time limit -- will Win 7 RC stop working entirely and refuse to boot on June 1, 2010, or will it retain some limited functionality (e.g. allowing users to copy their data).

Should I install Win 7 RC to some friends who are eager to try it on their laptop, but are not incredibly computer-savvy (and would certainly not appreciate a complete toast-and-reinstall)?

Edit: Sorry if this is a duplicate, but I'm primarily interested on your opinion on whether to recommend it to a non-technical user.

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up vote 12 down vote accepted

Upgrading windows 7 from Beta to RC and RC to RTM is not supported and if you try it you will get an error. It is possible to do, the instructions are here, but its not a great idea.

Upgrading is something I rarely do if I can help it, even with release software, it has som many opportunitys for errors and compatability problems, and doing so from pre-release software just increases the possibility of these.

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The expiration date is June 2010 but be aware that on March 2010 you'll start getting by-hourly shutdowns.

I'm sure that Windows 7 RC is stable enough to use it in your primary computer, but I wouldn't do it. I installed it on my laptop, but my main computer still has VISTA.

I wouldn't install Windows 7 to my friends either if that implies that I'll have to take care of their upgrades to the RTM version, which will probably require a fresh install.

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Microsoft did announce that people running the RC1 candidate will receive a notice a month prior to the beginning of the bi-hourly shutdowns allowing the user to purchase or enter a legitimate key. I'm going to look for my source and if I'm able to find it I'll add it as a comment in a few minutes.

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Since Vista the fresh install instead of upgrade is even more of a best practice method than before since it's rather easy. You export your data with the built-in migration tool and then reinstall, rounding it all off with reimporting all your data and settings...

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