FAQ: How to get Windows 7 RC

Everyone gets a shot at Windows 7 this week

Speaking of the beta download debacle, what's the chance that the RC download process will go smoothly?

Good question. Too bad we don't have an answer.

Last week's debut of Windows 7 RC on MSDN and TechNet, however, may be a clue. And it's not comforting. Microsoft had all kinds of trouble serving up Windows 7 RC to MSDN and TechNet subscribers last Thursday, with the download sites for both services eventually going dark. After several hours, Microsoft got the snafu untangled and put both sites' download sections back online.

What do I need to install the release candidate?

Microsoft has set the minimum requirements for the RC as a 1-GHz or faster processor; 1GB of memory; 16GB of free hard drive space for 32-bit, 20GB for 64-bit; and graphics that supports DirectX 9 with a Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) 1.0 or higher driver.

WDDM, which debuted in Vista, was a marked change from the driver standard for the older Windows XP. The new driver model may be best known for the part it played in the still-alive "Vista Capable" lawsuit, in which consumers have accused Microsoft of duping them into purchasing XP machines that the company knew would not be able to run WDDM drivers.

If you're planning on also trying out the new "XP Mode" virtualization add-on, which will be released May 5 in beta, you'll need 2GB of system memory and an additional 15GB of disk space.

What else?

You'll also need a recordable DVD drive to burn the file you download, which comes as a disk image, or .iso file, to a DVD, which you'll then use as the installation disc.

That means you'll also need DVD-burning software, such as the free ImgBurn, or Nero 9, an $80 download from Nero AG.

If you're installing Windows 7 RC to a virtual machine, using, say, VMware's Fusion on a Mac, you can skip the DVD burning step and install directly from the .iso file. VMware posted step-by-step instructions in January for the beta; they're valid for the RC, too.

How big is the download?

The 32-bit version weighs in at 2.47GB, while the 64-bit tips the scales at 3.2GB. Both numbers are slightly higher than the corresponding beta. The XP Mode add-on is another 450MB or so.

Do I need a product activation key? How about if I already have one from the beta.

Yes, and according to Microsoft, yes again.

Microsoft will make keys for the RC available through the same mechanism it used for the beta, in other words, before you start the download, you'll be asked to sign in using a Microsoft Live ID and given a key.

But while Microsoft said that keys obtained for the beta won't work with the RC, others have countered that, in their experience, they do. Noted Windows blogger Ed Bott, for instance, has said that product keys obtained for the earlier beta "work just fine" with the RC.

Can I upgrade from the Windows 7 beta?

You can, although Microsoft doesn't want you to. As is, the RC blocks installation when it recognizes that the PC is running Windows 7 beta. Microsoft did this, it said back in early April, because it wants users to "experience real-world setup and provide us real-world telemetry."

Instead, Microsoft told users to either do a clean install -- wiping out their copy of Windows 7 beta, all the applications they'd added and all the files those applications had generated -- or revert back to Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1), which they had presumably been running before they upgraded to the beta, then install RC.

Yikes.

To get around the block, copy the contents of the Windows 7 RC DVD to a local folder -- a bootable USB drive works, as does any root-level folder on the machine running the beta -- then on that drive or in that folder, open the "Sources" folder. Open the "cversion.ini" file with Notepad, and change the value of "MinClient" to "7000." Save the file and run Setup.

Microsoft walks you through the steps here.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Windows 7

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?