I’ve been getting numerous emails from people asking if it is possible to do an in-place upgrade from Windows 7 Release Candidate to the Final Release Code (when it becomes available).

Of course, my first response is “Why would you even want to do such a thing??!!?!?”.

Let’s take a step back and think about this scenario and why it is really not a good idea.

Beta products are likely to have lots of bugs in them (hence why it is still beta) that have not been found and fixed.  There is also a lot of extra debug code included so that the programmers can find these bugs and fix them.  Beta products are also not supported in production by the company that creates it since it is not a released product yet.  I don’t know of a company that is willing to bet their business by running their production systems with Beta code.

When we (Microsoft) made the first public beta of Windows 7 available to the general public, we did make it quite clear at that time that you could not go directly from Beta Code to Release (Final) Code.  The Beta was to be installed onto a test machine and NOT onto a production machine since it is beta code.  The intent at that time was to get feedback on bugs and issues with the product.  When we came out with the Release Candidate (Still Beta Code), we also stated at that time that you could not go from Beta directly to RC, but had to wipe and reload.  Yes, I know there were folks who figured out a way around that and did an in-place upgrade from Beta to RC, but then again, some of those same folks experienced issues that were a “side effect” of doing that.  Either way, RC is still Beta (as I mentioned before) and we did state that we do not support going from Beta to Final Code.  Even though I cannot find any “official” statement on our website that specifically states you cannot go directly from RC to Final Code, suffice it to say that this is not something you would want to do.

Before you point out that Microsoft uses Beta Code in Production, I want to clarify a few things.  First, we do use our beta products in “semi” production to do the best job we can in testing out products before they ship.  This is what we refer to as “Dogfooding”, but we do NOT deploy our entire production environment on beta code, only a small portion.  There are quite a few employees at Microsoft who are using Windows 7 Release Candidate on their production system (like me).  Please note that our IT Department can support this in production because they have direct access to the Product Group should a major issue arise.  This is once again somewhat of a “dogfood” environment so that we can test out our products as best as we can in a production environment prior to shipping.  This does not mean that other companies should go and do this as well.

I also happen to be “old school” and do NOT believe in in-place upgrades.  I ALWAYS wipe and reload from one OS to another and definitely from beta to release.  I have been at Microsoft for just under 10 years and have spent many a cycle rebuilding my production machine because I was testing different builds of Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 when it was in Beta.  Needless to say, I ALWAYS flattened my machine and started from scratch once the product released because I did not want any possibility of having “left over” code from beta on my machine by attempting to do an in-place upgrade from beta to release.

To conclude this long winded post, my answer to the initial question is: NO!!!!

Harold Wong