Upgrade from Win7 RC to RTM without Formatting

Anyone with Windows 7 RC needs to start worrying about the expiration date. According to Microsoft, from:
  • Feb 15th, 2010 - you'll start getting tray notification notices to upgrade.
  • March 1st, 2010 - your computer will automatically restart every two hours!
  • June 1st, 2010 - computer restarts every two hours, plus black desktop, plus Windows Activation popup.
This effectively means that you need to get rid of RC by March 1st, which is less than two weeks from now. There is no officially supported way to upgrade from RC to final RTM without doing a clean format and clean install. This is obviously a pain as you loose all installed applications and settings.

There is however an unofficial workaround to doing the upgrade such that you loose nothing. It can be done as follows:
  1. Get your hands on an official Win7 RTM DVD or iso image (and an official key). Note down the version type, i.e. 'Basic', 'Professional', 'Ultimate' or 'Enterprise'
  2. Boot into your Win7 RC machine that you want to upgrade.
  3. Click start, type 'regedit' and press enter.
  4. Navigate to Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\Current Version.
  5. Notice the two keys on the right labeled 'ProductName' and 'EditionId'. These will most likely have the values 'Windows 7 Ultimate' and 'Ultimate' respectively.
  6. You need to replace the 'Ultimate' word in both these keys with your RTM version type, e.g. 'Professional'.
  7. Copy the content of the Win7 RTM DVD to a folder on your hard-drive, e.g. C:\Win7RTM. If you have an ISO, extract the ISO using 7-Zip or a mounting program.
  8. Navigate to C:\Win7RTM\sources\ and open the file cversion.ini.
  9. Change the value of MinClient to 7100.00. Save the file and exit.
  10. Execute C:\Win7RTM\setup.exe and select Install. If asked to download Updates, you can select Yes, it shouldn't affect the workaround.
  11. Select Upgrade when prompted, then accept the License and wait for the Compatibility Check to complete. This will list what programs are likely to break after the Upgrade. (In my case, it detected iTunes, the ATI drivers, and the ATI Control Center. They still worked fine after the upgrade though).
Once the upgrade is complete you can delete the C:\Win7RTM folder. I've tried this on two machines so far, going from Win7 RC Ultimate to Win7 RTM Professional and I haven't experienced any problems yet. Try it at your own risk though. I'd suggest you still backup your important files first just in case something goes horribly wrong.

NOTE: I take no credit for this solution. I simply compiled the information from here and here into a simple step-by-step process.


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