Before Microsoft finally released Windows 7, a Release Candidate (RC) version of the operating system was provided. If you are still running the RC version of Windows 7 then you must update it to the Final Release. The RC version was meant to provide Microsoft with feedback from their customers. Their feedback helped in fine-tuning Windows 7 and fixing any existing bugs before the final version was officially released.

Now that the Final Release version is available, the RC version will expire and become unusable. It is imperative that you either update your version or reinstall a previous version of Windows in order to minimize data loss. The Final Release version of Windows 7 will not expire.

Installing the Final Release version of Windows 7

The Final Release version of Windows 7, also known as Version 6.1 (Build 7600) can be purchased online from Microsoft’s official website. You can also buy it at a local retail store. It is important that you check your copy is genuine. Vendors may sell you a copied RC version or even a duplicate of the Final Release Version.

It is important to completely back up important files from your system before attempting to install your original Final Release version of Windows 7. This is because you are obliged to do a ‘clean’ install of the operating system during installation. This will be the second option labeled as a Custom Installation. This will completely format the disk partition that you decide to install your operating system in. You will have to reinstall all your programs as well.

Installing a previous version of Windows

If you have an original installation disc for a previous version of Windows, you can run it and reinstall it on your computer. This process will also require a clean install. You must back up all your work because the entire partition will be formatted and used for the version of Windows that you choose. You will also have to reinstall your programs after this procedure.

Implications of not replacing your RC versions of Windows

If you have not updated your version of Windows by June 1, 2010, then your copy has expired. Once Windows Genuine Advantage has identified your version of Windows as not genuine, these symptoms will begin to show:

  • A black desktop whenever you start Windows.
  • A Windows Activation notification telling you that your copy of Windows is not genuine.
  • Periodical restarting of your PC without the benefit of saving work that is open.

Not updating your RC version to the Final Release version will result in data loss. You can check which copy you are running by clicking the Start button and typing winver into the search box. If you are running Version 6.1 (Build 7600) then you have the Final Release copy. Anything other than these details will mean that you will eventually have to update your copy.

This guide was intended to help identify your copy of Windows and update it if necessary.