Free Ride Ends for Windows 7 RC Testers

If you're still running Windows 7 release candidate (RC), today is the day of reckoning.

March 1 is the day that users face periodic shutdowns of the RC, as Microsoft previously stated. Windows 7 RC testers must either reinstall the operating system that was on their machines or install a paid-for licensed copy of Windows 7.

Machines running Window 7 RC will shut down automatically every two hours starting today. Knowing this day was coming, I decided not to go down to the wire on upgrading my machine. After all, I've had a copy of Windows 7 sitting on my desk since October.

I had every intention of installing the new Windows 7 software right away but kept putting it off. I dragged my heels over backing up my Outlook .PST file, browser settings and other data. Not that that's rocket science but it's still tedious, like prepping a room before painting it.

Because the RC worked so well, many users like me probably also put off doing the upgrade. Paying the upgrade fee may have given pause to some as well. While analysts believe the true rush to install Windows 7 will come later this year, some enterprises have already become early adopters.

Today's RC deadline made the use of third-party tools that much more interesting. So, when I received an offer to try LapLink's PCmover software, I decided to take the company up on its offer.

PCmover is one of a handful of low-cost software utilities that facilitate system migrations. The software is offered in a number of configurations, from the Windows Upgrade Assistant to PCmover Professional and enterprise editions. Some other migration solutions are Detto Technologies' IntelliMover 4.6 and Microsoft's user state migration tool.

PCmover has been around for a long time and has fared well by reviewers, including the current release. Nevertheless, I decided to have a fallback plan just in case it proved problematic. So I performed a traditional backup of everything on my PC. I had taken this same precaution last year when I migrated from the RC to Windows XP.

I installed PCmover Professional on the machine running Windows 7 RC. The program asks the user to check off whether you are on the new machine or the target machine. Since I was upgrading an existing machine, I checked off that I was looking to migrate settings and programs from the old computer. The software is also suited for organizations moving programs from aging PCs to new machines. PCmover captured my machine's image and then I transferred it to an external drive.

Next, I performed a clean install of Windows 7. Only Vista users have the option of skipping a clean install and upgrading directly. I reinstalled PCmover and allowed it to move the image from the external disk back to my PC.

The whole process was quick, and all of my applications were installed -- Microsoft Office (including Outlook), Intuit QuickBooks, various IM tools and browsers. All of my software and settings were intact, and the histories, folders and preferences remained the same. The only software I had to reinstall were the printer drivers.

Whether or not you use one of these third-party tools or merely perform a backup of your machine, the time has come. You really don't want your system to reboot every two hours. And by June 1, it's fade to black.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.