Can I do an In-Place upgrade from Windows 7 Release Candidate To Release Code??

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

Comments (30)

  1. Harold Wong says:


    From what I understand, the Upgrade check will require the OS Installation media – the Recovery Disk will not work.

    I’m sure if you are enterprising enough to do searches on the Internet, you can find some interesting workarounds to get Windows Vista Upgrade installed without the original media.  Who knows if this will work for Windows 7.

    Harold Wong

  2. Anonymous says:

    Harold –

    You stated "If you purchased the Windows 7 Upgrade, you only need the original media (CD / DVD) of Windows XP or Windows Vista.  The Upgrade media will ask you to insert the media from XP or Vista so it can perform a check of the physical media before proceeding."

    Is your statement factual? If it is, it is unlike installing a Windows Vista Upgrade license as Vista actually requires a qualifying Windows O/S to be installed, such as Windows XP, and begin the upgrade from the desktop. Has this changed with Windows 7 Upgrade?  Please clarify!  Thank you!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Harold –

    I have Build 7100 installed.  If I download the latest can I use my existing Product Key for the build 7100 or do I need need a new key?

    Are the latest downloads greater than 7100?


  4. Harold Wong says:

    Ok, I’ll do my best to address all the comments to date.

    1. Joel: I am very happy with the Windows Easy Transfer Tool.  This works great for the home or one off computer.  I used this tool to move stuff from Windows Vista to Windows 7 Beta as well as from Windows 7 Beta to Windows 7 RC.  I used my USB Hard Drive as the storage location.

    2. Todd: If you purchased the Windows 7 Upgrade, you only need the original media (CD / DVD) of Windows XP or Windows Vista.  The Upgrade media will ask you to insert the media from XP or Vista so it can perform a check of the physical media before proceeding.  Of course, if you already have Windows Vista installed on the machine, it will just allow you to perform an in-place upgrade.

    3. Jeff: I guess I should have been a bit more clear on my stance and situation.  For my personal computers at home, I NEVER do in-place upgrades.  I always transfer the data off and wipe and reload.  When testing beta Operating Systems, I absolutely NEVER attempt an in-place upgrade to final code.  This is true for home and business.  In a business environment, there are a lot more things that need to be considered.  If the user desktops are not well controlled and users can install whatever they want, then in-place upgrades are usually not a good option for me because there’s too great of a chance that the user has "messed up" enough items that it is probably time to do a clean up anyways.  If the environment is large enough, I would have created images to deploy to desktops.  In this case, I would still not do upgrades as I would create new images and deploy using those.

    4.  Chris: I agree with you in that I would never install beta software on mission critical systems.  I use beta to test functionality and capabilities.

    Harold Wong

  5. Joel Gillies says:

    Hi Harold,

    How do you feel about using Windows Easy Transfer to get your personal settings from RC to RTM after doing a from-scratch install?

    I did this between Beta and RC with good results.



  6. Todd Guerrero says:

    I purchased the upgrade ($49!) to Win7. Does this mean I will have to wipe Win7RC, install vista or XP and then upgrade to Win7?   Thanks.

  7. Jeff25 says:

    Wow, must be nice to have enough free time to ALWAYS wipe your drive and reinstall everything. Some of us work 15+ hour days and don’t have the luxury to "wipe and reinstall" tens or hundreds of gigs of installed applications ON TOP of the OS.

  8. ChrisFricke says:

    Wow Jeff, must be nice to have your sense of entitlement and self importance. Some of us work 15+ hour days and know better than to install beta software on such an obviously mission critical system. Sheesh.

  9. sue says:

    I am not an IT pro, but a very experienced home and business user.  I will not be upgrading my work computers, but replacing them instead as they are now about 4-5 years old.  My question is in regard to my son’s home computer- a hand-me-down that had XP on it originally, but I replaced that with W7 RC.  This machine did not come with a disk and had the "restore" on a hard drive that failed.  I did make a recovery disk of XP, but chose to try the new OS since I had to reinstall everything anyway.  Now I understand that I will have to start from scratch again- and that the upgrade version that I have already purchased will require the disk for the OS being upgraded.  Will the recovery disk that I created work for this purpose?

  10. sue says:

    OK- I understand what you are saying *g*.  I did install a Vista upgrade on a newly built machine- I guess I will try that method again when I receive the pre-ordered W7.


  11. Mark Thompson says:


     Thanks for the information.  My question is (and I’ve been searching but found no answer): When our Pre-Ordered Win 7 comes in, will it include both 32 and 64 bit versions because there was not an option to select the version we would like?

     When you buy a computer these days it seems like they are coming with 4 GB of RAM and Vista 64 is installed.  I’m hoping both versions are included on the DVD media.



  12. Jules Leeb says:

    I need some clarity.

    I have Vista on my C drive and 7RC on a separate partition and dual boot. I almost always use 7 and have all the same programs

    installed as in vista.

    When I install the Official 7 on to the partition where i have 7RC now, will I be able to ‘copy or transfer’ my programs to it [from Vista] without having to re-install them all?

    Have I misread your reply to others?

  13. Steve Henderson says:

    While I agree starting from a formatted drive is best, I hate to have to do it since W7RC is running so good on my computer.  I have installed and am using all of my software without any problems!  I am still using a single core processor on a four year  old machine.  All the drivers loaded on with the original installation, too.  This was the easiest OS intalllation I have ever done.  Can hardly wait for RTM.

  14. mjbnocrap says:

    I think the original question was "Can I just upgrade from the Windows rc7 to the "new" Windows 7 once it is released. I, like jeff, think it is great that you chose to reformat your drive, wipeout everything that you have and start all over again, just so everything will be as Microsoft intended. What about us that have been the testers for the "last" year? Do I lose everything I have and have to start all over again? Can I not save the files and folders and settings and programs that I have installed and Verified that they work for your new OS?

    I would like to think that even if I did Buy Windows 7, I could at least keep what I had and do an Upgrade, rather than wiping everything out and having to start all over AGAIN. (That’s what I hate about everytime Windows does an upgrade. Now it’s up to ME to find my drivers, reinstall my programs, redo my settings, etc….)

  15. Eubulides says:

    Like many others, I performed a clean install of the release candidate after I backed up my files from a Vista pc to an external hd. That was more than 30 days ago.

    If I was to attempt to reinstall Vista from the reinstallation disc from the OEM [Dell] how the heck am I supposed to have foreknowledge that I’ll be able to reactivate the Vista product key and have the system ready for 10.23.2009?

    If said Vista reinstall does not permit activation and myself and others in similar circumstances are unable to upgrade from the RC to the Final Release Code version by performing a clean ‘custom’ install, just what are our options, short of spending even more cash on a fresh copy of Windows 7???? Needless to say, that is something many of us will be loathe to do given the current OS market.

  16. Ray Garrett says:

    Most of the time, when you purchase a new PC, you do not get a Windows CD or DVD, you either get a set of recovery discs or the ability to make these recovery discs from within Windows.  What are these people supposed to do when they purchase a Windows 7 upgrade?  Maybe I’m mistaken, but won’t the majority of purchasers of the upgrade edition of Windows 7 fall into this group?  People who build their own PCs tend to purchase an OEM copy of Windows which is usually the same price or not much more than an upgrade edition.  

  17. ghforlife says:

    I also would like to know if windows 7 will come in 32bit and 64bit on the same DVD?

    I per-ordered my windows 7 Home pre.. and when i did it did’nt say so i called the store and asked if i could get the 64bit win7 and they said that it came in both 32/64bit on the same disk, is this true????

  18. Rick Ciufo says:

    What about upgrading to Windows 7 from RC 7100? I had an activated Vista SP2 running on my PC before installing W-7 Beta Release 7000 and then RC 7100. Any problems I should look for in the upgrade to the final release product? Thanks.

  19. "If you purchased the Windows 7 Upgrade, you only need the original media (CD / DVD) of Windows XP or Windows Vista.  The Upgrade media will ask you to insert the media from XP or Vista so it can perform a check of the physical media before proceeding."

    This directly contradicts what Windows bloggers all over the Internet have been saying.  Do you have specific experience with the Windows 7 upgrade installer?

  20. Wolfie2k6 says:

    Harold –

    You mentioned the issue with the beta code being mixed in with the RC code – but you missed another crucial issue with going from RC to RTM.

    Right now, the RC is installed as Ultimate. Most people I know of are only getting Home Premium or Professional. As far as I know, there’s NO way to downgrade from Ultimate to HP or Pro… It only works the other way around.

  21. Eric O'Malley says:

    You can go from a beta version to a full release version without any problems it all depends on updates,  hardware and third party software installed at the time.

    i have dun this with many version for windows from 95 to windows 7 some of the advice given is misleading any operating system can be upgraded from its beta version to a full pledged working operating system without any trouble,

    It was like everyone said you can not install windows XP professional on a Windows 95C version machine running 64 bit memory and intel pentium 2 but i did it and until the machine died just last year had it running like windows me without hassles.

    And like many beta software to say the company is not respondable for the operating system outcome is a misguided fact every software vendor is required under the laws to ensure their software is capable of support and is to ensure it comforms to the end user satifaction international laws also state the manufactor of software must ensure that their beta version can be supported after the final released version has be market for commerical use for a set period of time unless the company has advice the market otherwise in advanced that it will not support the beta product it still must allow the users a way to support new hardware and software upgrades to its marketing version or oem or retail version.

  22. Dave says:

    The only thing you tech people do is complain and complain.  You will find out when Windows 7 comes out.  Stop asking this question about doing an upgrade as nobody actually knows the legit answer yet.

  23. grdh20 says:

    If people feel like doing an upgrade in place install instead of a clean install, I sure wish so many people wouldn’t slam them.  They act like they have to deal with any issues that arise. They don’t.  They don’t have to do it and they don’t have to answer any questions about if if they don’t want to. That said, if an in place upgrade fails, there is always the option of redoing it from scratch at that point anyway.  Regardless, there is a way to trick the install to see the correct upgradable version which was on the win 7 blog at one point, but you may need upgrade the actual RC to a RTM line build first before trying to do the final in place install of final RTM.  I’m sure as soon as the d/l’s begin, hopefully on 8/6, the answer will be available.

  24. Texas Lone Star says:

    Wednesday, July 08, 2009 7:00 PM HaroldWong

    RE: Can I do an In-Place upgrade from Windows 7 Release Candidate To Release Code??



    Very Good advice.  I have been wiping drives and media since 1964.

    The first computer I worked on cost approximately $50 Million Dollars – that was in 1964.  That was thought to be a lot of money in those days.   The Computer Memory Banks – I used to walk around them every morning to ensure everything was OK.

    We had the original bugs – Insects that used to get fried in the gates.  Not Software bugs.  I spent several years writing machine language – I was only too pleased to stop that help develop higher level languages – I also got weary of that.  Today I just like to help some genuine people – and pose simple questions to stimulate the minds of the newcomers.

    Anyway back to the matter at hand –

    Hard Drives should be wiped (min. 2 times prefer 8 times) – not just formatted, as the information can still be reclaimed – Viruses can be hiding on the drive – ready to zap you later.

    All Old Drives (whether working or not) should  be Wiped at least 8 times followed by a series of zero’s  before sending to the rubbish pile.

    Myself being paranoid about foreign governments and villians I also drill holes into the drives afterwards, then incinerate or crush then in a motor vehicle crusher.  Unless of course you want to give out false information as we sometimes do.

    Sorry for rambling on but us oldies have a habit of doing that, and repeating ourselves.

    Sorry for rambling on but us oldies have a habit of doing that, and repeating ourselves.

    Yours ever,  TLS

    ps. If you are interested in computer history why not use the link below:

  25. Ananda says:

    You can.

    Modify the cversion.ini file under sources directory of the install path, and change minversion value to 7000.

    Extract the ISO to a directory, modify this value and recreate an ISO/MDS.

    I did it and am now upgraded to Windows 7.

  26. pat47 says:

    hi, can we at least use some tool like migwiz.exe to avoid re-install everything we (successfully) tested ?


  27. Keith Rosenfeld says:


    Just want to let you know that we ALL appreciate your hard work and good advice.  Yes, some of us DO like to complain but, hey, everyone needs a hobby.

    We should all remember the original DOS 4.00 and Windows ME days … then sit back, laugh, and follow the best practices that will yield a result we can each live with.

    Remember, though, an in-place upgrade is really just like adding gas to our cars … it gives us more fuel for future complaints.


  28. Greg Lambert says:

    OK, I wish I had read this before upgrading RTM over RC on several home machines.  My question is:  Could I not do a repair install (upgrade RTM over the exisiting RTM installation) and get all of the upgraded code overwritten by pure RTM code?  I have used this method of repair install (upgrade over installation) to repair boot configs with XP/Vista several times, in order to reassert the Win7 boot primacy and even repair Win7, and it works fine.  Would it overwrite the RC code completely?

    Meanwhile, the performance jump on all machines after RC to RTM upgrade is marked so I would probably avoid clean reinstall for now.  I have upgrade disks coming in Oct. to launch for my XP and Vista saved partitions. One other question:  will there be any way to clean install XP-to-Win7 Premium to another partition from the XP environment?  Just askin.  THanks.

  29. S. Edd says:

    I agree, you should always do a clean install unless it is absolutley unavoidable (some people may have programs they no longer have disks for, various other reasons). If you HAVE to do an upgrade then use imaging software to back up your old installation.

    HOWEVER, Microsoft representatives have been extolling the virtues of clean installs lately but last I remember MS has been making it more and more difficult to do clean installs from upgrade media. What happened to the old days of tossing in the qualifying media into the optical drive to allow installation from an upgrade media.

    With the vista upgrade disk MS forced an upgrade but now you are telling us that we should do a clean install, has MS suddenly reverted to the old method of proving qualification for upgrade media?

    One MS policy treats us like thieves (and forces upgrades and unnecessary installs)  and another tells us we are foolish for upgrading, make up your mind MS.

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