Windows 7 FAQ: Frequently asked questions answered
Microsoft offers the Windows 7 Release Candidate for download. PC Games Hardware compiles the most important FAQ.
Everybody talks about Windows 7: At the beginning of this week Microsoft has provided the official download for the Release Candidate of the new operating system. PC Games Hardware has picked out the most important FAQ.
Basics about Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC)
What is Windows 7:
Windows 7 is the next version of the Windows client operating system. This version incorporates hundreds of improvements based on your feedback. It works the way you want: it's responsive, reliable, and runs smoothly. It starts and shuts down faster, and is designed to make your battery last longer. Plus, it's really easy to connect to things you care about—from people to printers. You'll also be able to do everyday things faster, from getting around the desktop and managing open windows, to finding files and programs, and using the web. We hope you love it, because it's got your fingerprints all over it.
What is Windows 7 Release Candidate?
Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) is a pre-release version of Windows 7, our next client operating system. When you use the RC, your PC sends information to our engineers to help them check the fixes and changes they made based on Beta tests. It takes hundreds of Microsoft engineers around the world to create each new release of Windows - but only you can help us perfect it.
What's in Windows 7 RC?
The RC is a full-featured edition, similar to Windows Vista Ultimate. This is important to keep in mind, because the Windows 7 you eventually buy or use at work may be a different edition with different features than what you find in the RC.
Who can download the RC?
The RC is free and will be available at least through July 2009. However, because Microsoft isn't providing technical support for the the RC, we strongly recommend that only experienced computer users sign up. How experienced? At minimum, you should be comfortable backing up a computer, formatting a hard drive, burning an ISO file to DVD, and installing an operating system from scratch. You should also be comfortable troubleshooting problems on your own.
Are there risks to installing the RC?
Yes. While the RC is stable and has been thoroughly tested, it's not the finished product. Your computer could crash and you could lose important files. So please back up your data and please don't test the RC on your primary home or business PC.
Other problems you might encounter include:
• Software that doesn't install or work correctly, including anti-virus or security programs
• Printers, video cards, or other hardware that doesn't work
• Problems accessing corporate or home networks
• Files may become corrupted
Bottom line: Please carefully balance the risks and rewards for you of trying out the RC before you install. To see the kinds of risks we're talking about, review the known issues in the Release Notes before you install the Windows 7 RC.
How long can I test Windows 7?
This is a very important question, because Windows 7 Beta and Windows 7 RC each have an expiration date. To avoid interruption, you'll need to rebuild your test machine using a valid version of Windows before the software expires. Windows will notify you that the expiration process is beginning and two weeks later your PC will begin shutting down every two hours. The Beta expires on August 1, 2009, and bi-hourly shutdowns will begin July 1, 2009. The RC will expire June 1, 2010, and the bi-hourly shutdowns will begin on March 1, 2010. In both cases, you'll need to rebuild your test PC to replace the OS and reinstall all your programs and data.
Can I upgrade directly from the Windows 7 Beta to the RC?
If you are running the Windows 7 Beta, you'll need to back up your data (preferably on an external device) and then do a clean installation of the Windows 7 Release Candidate. After installing Windows 7, you will need to reinstall applications and restore your files. If you need help with the installation process, please see the Installation Instructions.
Can I upgrade from the RC to the final version of Windows 7?
When you install the final version of Windows 7, you'll need to do a clean installation. So plan on backing up your data then reinstalling your applications and restoring your data.
How does testing the RC help improve the operating system?
You help just by using it. That's because the Windows 7 RC automatically reports crashes and bugs to Microsoft over the Internet. The information sent in automatic reporting is called "telemetry." Our engineers updated Windows 7 based on Beta test results. During the Release Candidate phase, they use the telemetry data to verify that the fixes and changes they made are working correctly.
Will you collect any other information from testers?
When you run Windows 7 RC we'll collect information in case we need to contact you about Windows 7 RC. We will also collect automated reporting feedback from PCs running the OS to help collectively analyze issues and file bug reports where appropriate. For a complete explanation of what we'll collect and how we'll use it, please read the Windows 7 RC privacy statement.
Downloading and installating
What kind of computer do I need to run the RC?
These are the Microsoft minimum hardware recommendations for systems that will be running the RC. These recommendations are specific to this release and are subject to change.
Windows 7 RC system requirements:
• 1 GHz or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
• 1 GB RAM (32-bit) / 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
• 16 GB available disk space (32-bit) / 20 GB (64-bit)
• DirectX 9 graphics processor with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
• DVD R/W drive
• Internet access
Note: Some product features of Windows 7, such as the ability to watch and record live TV or navigation through the use of "touch," may require advanced or additional hardware.
What web browsers support the Windows 7 RC download experience?
Internet Explorer 7, Internet Explorer 8, and Firefox support the Windows 7 RC download experience. Please note that Internet Explorer 8 users behind a proxy server should use the automatic configuration for their proxy server for the best download experience.
What can I do with a system with the minimum hardware recommendations?
The hardware setup we're recommending for the RC is meant for average computing tasks, such as web browsing and word processing. If you plan to play games or run other hardware-intensive programs, you might need to test the RC on a more powerful computer.
It might also be possible to run the RC on a less powerful system than the one we recommend, although we can't guarantee the results.
What happens if the download doesn't finish?
If the download is interrupted, you'll find an icon on your desktop that you can click on to restart the download. It'll pick up where it left off.
What happens if I lose my product key?
If you lose your product key, just go back to the Download page and begin the installation process again. You'll be asked to enter your Windows Live ID, and then you'll see your product key you were originally issued. You can then use this product key to activate your software—you don't need to download the operating system again.
Testing the Windows 7 RC
Is there technical support available for the RC?
No. Microsoft doesn't offer technical support for pre-release software, including the Windows 7 RC. But we've created an online forum where you can ask questions and get answers from other testers.
Will I get a free copy of Windows 7 once it's released for volunteering to test the Windows 7 RC?
What is Device Stage, and what products work with it?
Device Stage is a new technology. When you connect your PC to a device that's compatible with Device Stage, you can see a picture of the device which makes it easy to see what you're trying to do with the device—whether it's sharing files between your PC and the device, or just checking the battery level.
You are just one click away from our article Windows 7 Release Candidate: Test with games and applications. We certainly offer the download of the Windows 7 Release Candidate. All Windows 7 wallpapers can be found here.