Important Windows 7 Beta-to-RC Upgrade (?!) Information

Windows 7 Now.. before you kill the messenger, you really need to read and understand this post from the “Engineering Windows 7” blog  in its entirety:

Delivering a quality upgrade experience

Don’t want to read it all?  Okay.. If you really want the summary instead, here are important bits:

  1. We are thrilled that so many people are running and loving the Windows 7 beta, and doing so full-time. 
  2. We’re getting ready to release the Release Candidate (RC).  We know you’re all anxious for it.  (and that’s putting it mildly)
  3. We learned and are learning so much from your fresh installs, your upgrades, etc.  And we will learn even more as you get and install the RC.  But…
  4. The path from Beta to RC can not be supported as an in-place upgrade.

“HUH?!  I wanna take my beta and just upgrade!  Are you saying I can’t?”

I want to do that, too.  And no, I’m not saying you can’t.  (Actually, you can’t, unless you do a tweak to an installation file – more about that below.)  But it’s not a scenario that Microsoft is building Windows 7 to support.  Think about it.. Do we really want to spend the extra effort (and days or weeks delay in releasing the product) to fully test a scenario, with all of the smallest details of every file and every setting and potential configuration, that once the product is released, nobody will need?  The real world isn’t full of people upgrading from Beta to RC.  The purpose of betas and RCs is to completely test the real-world kinds of upgrades and deployments.  It doesn’t help anyone to have to report, track down, and fix a bug relating to the Beta-to-RC path.

“So… what is Microsoft recommending?”

As the post says, the recommend paths – the ones that will help all of us best to improve the product – is to either restore your previous XP, Vista or Vista SP1 installation and then upgrade to RC, or to do a fresh installation of the RC. 

The good news is this: If you really really really need to keep your beta configuration and want to do an upgrade to RC, you’ll be able to do it with a documented tweak to the cversion.ini file on the source installation disk.  (See the blog post for the full details on what needs to be done.)

Believe me.  Many people at Microsoft have been debating this issue passionately.  This is what we wanted to hear, and know that you’d prefer a supported upgrade path.  We’re all in this together.  I did an upgrade of not only my day-to-day production machine that I’m on now, but also my family’s laptop and my family Media Center.  Am I happy about this?  Absolutely not.  But like I said.. if you think about it, it does make sense.  (And anyway, a fresh install on my Media Center may get rid of one particularly annoying issue I’ve got with my Zune software not seeing the new TV files they way it should.  I’ll just have to make sure DRM on my recorded TV files will not be lost.  Got any hints on how I’ll do that?)

“So what are you going to do, Kevin?”

For the RC, I’m going to be relying on backups (Windows Easy Transfer) and doing re-configuration on top of a fresh install for my family laptop.  And I’ll investigate the Media Center options I have and get back to you.

Okay.. let ‘er rip.  Tell me what you think.  Don’t hold back.  If your complaints are well-thought-out and constructive, I’ll share them with the product team.  But in any case, feel free to comment/rant/complain/yell/etc.

8 thoughts on “Important Windows 7 Beta-to-RC Upgrade (?!) Information

  1. When you work at MS in WinDiv, isn’t a new build available to you almost daily?  You’re encouraged to dogfood it, correct?
    Do you upgrade your system from one daily build to another, or blow it away and do a clean install each time?  I’ve got to assume a large number of ‘softies upgrade from daily build to daily build (perhaps not daily, but you get the idea) and expect their Visual Studio and Office and whatever installs to stay working.  So, the beta to RC upgrade scenario is getting alot of testing within MS, isn’t it?


  2. Anyone who thinks being able to upgrade from a beta to an RC release is practical, useful or helpful clearly doesn’t understand the concept of "beta".
    It’s a beta, it’s to test functionality and compatability.  The only upgrade path that matters is from one released product to another.  If you can easily add beta upgrade functionality, that’s great, but no one should expect it.


  3. I agree with Peter, it is a Beta and it is only testing. To run it in a live environment and hope that the RC (Which still isn’t a final release) should not be expected. I personally would like an upgrade, but such is life. They did some good updates during the Beta release. I am excited about a new RC release. Besides, it gives you another chance and experience to see the fresh install once again with Windows 7.


  4. While it’s a bummer, it’s not the worst thing I’ve heard.  I also suspect that while the Windows 7 beta is big in IT circles, there aren’t too many average consumers running it.  IT pros should be comfortable backing up data and installing fresh.
    I wonder though… Should we expect upgrade capability from the RC to the retail / final  version?


  5. Much of testing an operating system is in testing how various software runs on that system.  I have installed a new "test" beta system here, but the effort to get all the software installed in huge compared to installing the OS, not to mention backing up and restoring all the important user files, setting up mail accounts, and all the rest fo the little jobs.  Now, of coarse, we love the Windows 7 machine and more stuff got installed than I intented, and its used on a daily basis, so upgrading would sure be a boon, and save a huge amount of hassle re-installing software and digging up license keys.


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