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Wanna upgrade from Windows 7 beta? Go back to Vista first

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Microsoft is asking Windows 7 beta testers to remove the program and return their computers to Vista, before upgrading to the forthcoming release candidate of the firm’s latest operating system.

The near-ready version of Windows 7 is expected to land next month. However, Microsoft has admitted the path to the RC isn’t going to be easy for anyone who has been testing out the beta of the OS.

In a long-winded blog post, the software giant confessed yesterday that it planned to block upgrades from the beta to the release candidate of Windows 7, although MS has offered a work-around for rebellious types who refuse to go by the rules.

“We’ve learned that many of you (millions) are running Windows 7 Beta full time. You’re anxious for a refresh. You’ve installed all your applications. You’ve configured and customised the system. You would love to get the RC and quickly upgrade to it from Beta,” wrote a Redmond wonk on the Engineering Windows 7 blog.

“The RC, however, is about getting breadth coverage to validate the product in real-world scenarios. As a result, we want to encourage you to revert to a Vista image and upgrade or to do a clean install, rather than upgrade the existing Beta. We know that means reinstalling, recustomising, reconfiguring, and so on. That is a real pain."

But there is a caveat for those people who ignore Microsoft’s requests to revert from the beta to Vista before installing the release candidate of Windows 7.

Testers will be required to edit an installation file to successfully update the OS without going back to clunky old Vista.

The company then banged on about “real world” scenarios and telemetry and urged the testing community to play ball by sticking to its painful downgrade-then-upgrade recommendations.

“The reality is that upgrading from one pre-release build to another is not a scenario we want to focus on because it is not something real-world customers will experience,” it said.

Microsoft also admitted that it tends to ignore glitches that occur when users upgrade from one pre-release build to another.

"We don't always track them down and fix them because they take time away from bugs that would only manifest themselves during this one-time pre-release operation," it said.

Meanwhile, those stick-in-the-muds who “really, really need to” bypass Microsoft’s request that they revert to Vista first will need to boot from a flash drive or another partition before modifying the build number in the “cversion.ini” file via text editor.

The firm also reiterated yesterday it had no plans to offer an upgrade from its eight-year-old OS Windows XP to Windows 7.

"We realised at the start of this project that the 'upgrade' from XP would not be an experience we think would yield the best results. There are simply too many changes in how PCs have been configured... that having all of that support carry forth to Windows 7 would not be nearly as high quality as a clean install," said Microsoft.

"We do provide support for moving files and settings and will prompt at setup time, but applications will need to be reinstalled. We know that for a set of customers this trade-off seems less than perfect, but we think the upfront time is well worth it."

Microsoft confirmed earlier this year that it will offer Vista-shy customers the opportunity to purchase an upgrade edition of Windows 7.

Additionally the firm told The Register yesterday that it also plans to build in a downgrade option from Windows 7 Pro and Ultimate to XP, which will be available for six months after the new OS lands.

However, Microsoft still isn't saying when Windows 7 will rock up.

In related news, another pre-release build has leaked onto the interwebs. Neowin has the full skinny here. ®

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