If you're running the Release Candidate (RC) version of Windows 7, you need to replace it as soon as possible with the final release version of Windows 7, before the RC version expires. For more information, go to the Genuine Windows webpage.
You can either install the final release version of Windows 7 or reinstall a prior version of Windows.
You'll get notices about the RC version expiration in three stages.
On February 15, 2010, the expiration notification process begins.
You'll receive an expiration notification in the notification area, at the far right of the taskbar, once daily.
You'll see the Notification wizard once every four hours, and then later once every hour.
On March 1, 2010, Windows 7 RC enters the next stage of expiration.
Expiration notifications will continue to appear in the notification area.
Your PC will begin restarting every two hours. Windows won't save your work during shutdown.
On June 1, 2010, Windows 7 RC expires.
Windows starts to a black desktop.
You'll see a Windows Activation dialog box that says the version of Windows you're running is not genuine.
Your PC will continue to restart every two hours. Windows won't save your work during shutdown.
If you're running the RC version of Windows 7, you'll see Windows 7 RC and Build Number 7100 displayed in the lower-right corner of your Windows desktop.
If you don't see any text in the lower-right corner of your desktop, you're probably running the final release version of Windows 7. But here's how to check:
This window displays the version and edition of Windows you're running. The final release version of Windows 7 is Version 6.1 (Build 7600).
If you install the final release version of Windows 7, you won't have to worry about your operating system expiring. For more information, visit the Shop webpage.
To upgrade from the RC version, you must do a custom (clean) installation of Windows 7. This doesn't save your files, settings, and programs, so you'll have to back up your files and then copy them back to your computer after you finish installing the final release version of Windows 7, as well as reinstall your programs. For more information, see Installing and reinstalling Windows 7.
You can reinstall your previous version of Windows if you have the original installation disc. This will replace the RC version of Windows 7 with the version of Windows you were running before you installed Windows 7. Reinstalling an earlier operating system deletes all of the programs, files, and settings on your computer, so you should back up your files before you do this, and then reinstall your programs after reinstallation is complete. For more information, see Can I uninstall Windows 7?
Article ID: MSW700070