WOW!  I was receiving quite a few emails asking about the ability to perform an in-place upgrade from Windows 7 RC to Windows 7 RTM so on July 8, 2009, I put up a nice post on my blog on that.  OMG!  I did not realize I had stirred up an angry ant hill.  I received a few comments on my blog and a boat load of emails in my inbox referencing that post and asking me even more questions.

Rather than post another set of comments to the original post, I thought I would put up a new post with some clarification points.

I’ll start with the easy items first and then work down the list to the “tough” ones.

  1. When you purchase a copy of Windows 7 retail (Full, Upgrade), you will receive both 32 bit and 64 bit media in the package.
  2. Build 7100 is the Release Candidate Build.  There isn’t a “newer” build that was made public.
  3. Unless you perform an in-place upgrade of your existing OS, you will need to reinstall applications that were previously installed under your old OS.  Example: If I am running Windows XP and I install Windows 7 onto a second partition, I will be able to transfer settings from the Windows XP instance to the Windows 7 instance, but I will still need to install all the applications in the new installation of Windows 7.
  4. If you do have the installation media (OEM) that came with your PC and you need to reinstall, most OEMs have pre-activated that installation.  If not, you should have the handy dandy sticker on the back of the computer with the OEM key for that machine.  From my personal experience of using the OEM media from Dell, HP, Lenovo and Toshiba to reinstall the OS, I have never had any problem with activation.  In fact, I don’t even remember having to re-activate.  I have done this numerous times since I never accept the OEM provided image that comes with my computer.  I ALWAYS flatten it and reinstall (this is on my home machines or when I help a friend setup a new home computer).
  5. Windows 7 RC was NOT supposed to be installed onto your production machine.  It was supposed to be installed onto a test machine so that you can test the features and applications and help you get prepared for when the product releases.  Below is the snapshot from the download site for Windows 7 RC.  Especially note the third bullet.
  6. Now to address the original question of can I perform and in-place upgrade from RC to RTM?  Based on the fact that RC is a Pre-Release and not the final release coupled with the third bullet above (plus all my past experience with previous OS cycles), I’m still going to stick to my original statement that this will not be supported.  I’m sure someone will figure out a way to do this from a technical perspective, but just because it can technically be done, does not mean it will be supported by Microsoft.  If my answer is correct and you still choose to do this, then you are doing it at your own risk.  I guess if this is your home computer, that only impacts you.  If you are doing this in a business environment, that could mean you may not have support from Microsoft should you end up having issues with your OS later.  I’m sure I’m sticking my neck out again by making this statement, but I feel strongly about doing things in an unsupported fashion and making sure people understand the ramifications of doing that.  I admit that I configure things myself that fall under this category.  Before doing that, I weigh the pros and cons and assess my risk before moving forward so I understand when something “breaks”, it is up to me to fix.
  7. The requirements for using the Windows 7 Upgrade Media seems to not be fully documented and publicized.  I received emails from folks who have said a Microsoft representative had told them that an activated copy of Windows must already be installed onto the computer.  I had stated that the original media would be required.  Since I cannot get a solid answer internally at this point, I’m going to take the egg on my face and say that I may be wrong in my previous statement.  I am not sure yet.  Since I don’t have access to the Upgrade Media myself, I cannot test it to know for sure so I am waiting for the Windows 7 Team to post an update to their blog that states all the requirements.  Just like the rest of you, I will have to wait for further “official” news.  I am very sorry for jumping the gun on this one and stating what I heard were the requirements for using the Upgrade Media.

That pretty much addresses all the questions I’ve received regarding this topic.  Not all were stated exactly as I asked them, but when I break it down, they fell into one or more of the seven items I just addressed above.  Item 7 is kinda the “catch all” for the ones related to folks who don’t have the original installation media but have already wiped out their systems and installed Windows 7 RC onto it.  Until I know the actual requirements for using the Upgrade Media, I don’t know what to tell you in terms of what you’ll have to do to get to RTM.

I hope this helps to clarify things other than item seven.  I am keeping an eye out on the Windows team blog so as soon as I see an update, I will also post an update on my blog.  Thanks for your patience. 

Harold Wong