Windows 7 For users of Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC), the end is nigh. From February 15, anyone running Windows 7 RC, the free pre-release version of Microsoft's latest PC operating system, will receive a notification that their trial software is about to expire.

A post by Microsoft blogger Brandon LeBlanc on The Windows Blog explains that the bi-hourly notifications will remind Win 7 RC users that their PCs will "begin experiencing bi-hourly shutdowns" from March 1. According to Microsoft Support, brave souls who ignore the reminders are in for some serious nagging.

Countdown to expiration

And then it gets worse. Here's the timeline:

Starting February 15:

  • An expiration notification appears in the task bar once per day.
  • The Notification Wizard pops up once every four hours, and then once per hour.

Starting March 1:

  • The task bar nagging continues.
  • Your PC restarts every two hours.
  • During shutdowns, your work won't be saved.

Starting June 1:

  • Windows boots to a black desktop. (Yikes!)
  • A Windows Activation screen reminds you that your Win 7 copy isn't genuine.
  • The two-hour reboots continue.

What's missing? How about a message that reads: "Hey, you cheapskate, isn't it time you bought Windows 7?

Of course, you could avoid the escalating misery by moving to a released version of Win 7. Keep in mind, however, that you'll need to perform a custom (clean) install to replace the Release Candidate code. Microsoft provides installation instructions here.

And what if you decide to keep running Win 7 RC, despite the notifications and shutdowns? Well, you're probably a bit of a masochist.

Another option: uninstall Win 7 RC and revert to your previous OS. Here's how to do it. Good luck!

See also:

Microsoft: 'Windows 7 RC users have one month left'

Microsoft Windows 7 review

PC World