back to article Windows 7 RC 'buy a copy' shut downs start next month

Microsoft will soon put the screws on those still running last year's free preview of Windows 7 by incessantly shutting down their PC. Starting on February 15, Windows 7 Release Candidate will begin displaying a friendly notice every few hours to either get paying or get bent. Come March 1, the PC will begin a regimen of …


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  1. Jacqui

    ICL again

    ICL removed a mainframe with council data when the council did not pay for the machine.

    the council sued ICL because under UK law while the machine belonged to ICL the data

    belonged to the council and ICL had no right to deny the council access to their data.

    ICL lost big time.

    MS may be much bigger than ICL (now) but this case means MS are taking a risk

    in denying access to data or possibly corrupting data with this new behaviour.

    1. The Original Ash

      New behaviour?

      This "new behaviour" is only on *Testing Only*, *Non Production* *Release Candidate* *Unlicensed from June 2010* software, *specifically designated as such prior to even downloading an installation image*.

      The data is there. Install a new OS. Troll better next time.

    2. Nigel 11

      Denying access?

      I know nothing about the (ancient?) ICL case, but unless Microsoft have done something very nasty to NTFS in the RC, there are plenty of third-party tools (including some freeware) that are capable of mounting a disk containing the RC and user data, and copying the latter onto your choice of another drive or a network server.

      I'd be surprised, even dismayed, if the courts took the view that Microsoft was denying the user access to his data, in light of this, and the numerous disclaimers the customer agreed to at install time, and the numerous advance warnings that the customer will have ignored before the system finally won't boot.

      Does "removed" in the ICL case mean physically removed? I can see why the courts came down hard on a company that was effectively "kidnapping" the user's data and holding it to ransom! I think this must be my first post when I'm unreservedly on Microsoft's side.

    3. IceMage
      Gates Horns

      Breach of Contract

      By putting production data on a testing machine, the individual would be breaching the contract between themselves and Microsoft, and as such, they would be forced to release any form of liability on Microsoft.

      Furthermore, Microsoft does not claim to own the data, or the equipment, and leaves it alone as such, but will not allow you to run a demo of it's operating system forever. On top of this, Microsoft is practicing fair judgement in that it is allowing the user two hours to use their machine before it shuts down, after many many warnings. All of these combined gives the end user plenty of methods, and opportunities to retrieve their data. Even further, Microsoft is not taking possession of any data whatsoever, and as such, even though the data may become inaccessible, Microsoft is not explicitly denying access to said data, as it is not encrypted. If the data is encrypted, then such an effort is made by the acting party, and not Microsoft. As such, Microsoft could not be held liable due to the encryption of the data, since the end user, not Microsoft, completed the act of encrypting the data.

  2. Anonymous Coward


    Unless MS have now started creating their own proprietary version of the English language (which lets be honest, wouldn't come as a huge surprise), bi-hourly means every two hours.

    1. Primar


      I always thought it meant twice an hour - bi-weekly would be twice a week, for example.

      1. Reverend Brown
        Thumb Down


        My paychecks are bi-weekly, and I assure you they do not arrive as frequently as you suggest.

  3. Roger Greenwood
    Thumb Up

    In other news

    Most kids will be using a cracked version already (they don't pay for anything anymore, well mine don't anywway). Some will have avoided this nonsense by switching to a free O/S.

  4. MarkOne

    Digital Copies.

    If you were smart enough to download the RC, burn it to DVD (or extract the contents to a flash drive and make it bootable), then you are clearly the type of person that does not want boxed retail DVD of the OS.

    Why not offer anyone running the RC (or anyone full stop), the ability to download the final ISO and buy a licence online for a reduced fee? It would certainly tempt me.

    1. Colin Barfoot

      you could try...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Shutdown every 2 hours?

    "Come March 1, the PC will begin a regimen of automatic shut down every two hours."

    Just like Vista then?

    This probably isn't intentional either.

    <-- Evil Bill because they don't have one for "MS are completely incompetent"

  6. Jacob Lipman


    I wonder if Microsoft had the foresight to prevent users from circumventing this annoyance by simply changing their system date.

    If you just wanted a stand-alone box with no net connection, I can't think how they could prevent that trick from working.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      For a standalone box Chew-WGA (and probably Remove-WAT too) would do the job and if you want to know what year it is you can still look in the tray!

      I don't run anything post-XP these days (and that above board), but I tested Chew-WGA last year - with the RTM - just to see if it worked and it didn't present any problems the few days I ran it (with 'net connection and running WU, including long enough since Chew-WGA came out that M$ could presumably have detected it had been used).

    2. HobbleAlong

      No Internet?

      Is there a person who would want, or even accept a stand alone box these days? If you don't want to support the suppliers of the BSOD try Linux. The mind you save will be your own.

      1. jake Silver badge


        My one remaining Microsoft box is airgapped. Has been for years.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good stuff

    "Starting on February 15, Windows 7 Release Candidate will begin displaying a friendly notice every few hours to either get paying or get bent."

    Heh heh - I did a lol.

    +5 points.

  8. Anonymous Coward


    Isn't windows already annoying enough, popping up all these stupid question boxes and warnings? Shutting down every two hours, without saving anything or (presumably) even warning is just going to piss people off even more. Does M$ really think that their potential customers will be happy to pay money to a company who treats them like this? Especially when there is a better alternative (see icon)??

    1. rcdicky

      Are you kidding or what?

      M$ clearly stated last year when the RC was released that this would happen.

      Anyone surprised by this should seriously not download RC's in the future...

      The more than generous testing period has ended. Backup your data and but Win7 or naff off to your free OS.

      Stop whinging seriously...

      1. HobbleAlong

        No kidding

        Yup! You is a fool. I naffed off to a free OS (Ubuntu) 3 years ago and my total cost for software on 14 computers in that time has been $0.00 (same amount in pounds)! You want to support Microshaft? Feel free, but realize your stupidity is showing.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It was always my assumption

      that the considerable extended access they allowed to the betas/RCs was to get enough people to use it for long enough as to get used to it and so more likely to buy it eventually than just walk away i). to, obviously, sell more but perhaps more importantly ii). generate a lot of sales when it was released and so make the Vista debacle look ancient history (although the effect would really be getting most who would have bought it in the first few months to instead buy it in the first few weeks, so not actually increasing sales so much as the hype - which would probably inflate sales a little but probably more importantly give the shareholders [the illusion of] a sensual massage they'd been waiting for from Ballmer for the last several years).

      I stopped running 7 months ago, but could still be running it gratis of course. It would already have been for more than a year. I can't really imagine anyone who has been running 7 that long - or even who's only just started running it - not being aware that it will stop working in the Spring, or feeling short changed when it does. The only part I don't see them getting is that this extended test period was entirely for M$ benefit, i.e. I expect most of them to feel somehow indebted for the extended use rather than manipulated.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To avoid data loss...

    ...and improve battery life on your laptop, I suggest moving to a license free OS. I would recommend Ubuntu (any flavour), Mandriva, Fedora, OpenSUSE, MacPup, DSL... (you get the idea).

    You should still be able to run your favourite apps under WINE (or paid-for equivalent) or via virtualisation of a Windows PC (but then you still need a license...)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Pedant alert!

      I didn't think Linux was licence free? Free as in no-cost, but it most definitely has a licence in the form of the GPL, no?

      Or is that simply the source code?

      1. HobbleAlong

        Yes Linux has a license

        Yes Linux has a license; but it is real interesting when compared to the Microshaft offering. What the GPL says is you are free to look at, use or modify the source code, but you can't charge others to use the modified code. (except if you're Microshaft, who have been found guilty of and fined for doing exactly that!) However you can give away the modified code in keeping with the fact that you didn't pay for the efforts of whoever supplied you with the code *you* modified. Let's see M$ match that one.

  10. Witty username


    best install the full version at some point!

  11. Si 1
    Gates Halo

    Upgrade paths

    So if I buy a full version of Windows 7 I have to go to the trouble of re-installing my system. But if I buy the upgrade version I pay less and get a fully working OS just because I used the free RC? Sounds like a bargain to me. Is this actually correct as I need to sort out my RC install soon.

    1. madferret

      Upgrade bargain?

      Offering RC users the upgrade path isn't so unreasonable - I'm sure one of the original intentions of M$ was to give people the chance to try-then-buy through their pre-release program. That's what I did, so I now have a full retail copy of W7, bought for less than the current upgrade price.

      So, no, paying for an 'upgrade' from 7RC isn't quite the bargain it appears.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @upgrade paths

      the upgrade disk works perfectly fine on a blank hdd as well. just skip the entry of serial key and let it finishing the load then reinstall it, this time putting in the key. long way around but it does indeed work.

      * this last step may not even be needed as you may be able to run the oobe and put in the key.

      I installed win7pro 64 upgrade using the the former method on a brand new WD.

  12. frank ly

    Why should I bother? (and @Jacqui)

    "Escape from the harassment will only come after a clean install of a paid-for copy of Windows."

    So I lose all my tweaks and configuration and the entire look/feel that I spent ages setting up since last July when I installed Win7 RC on my laptop??

    It's a good job I used a new hard drive for Win7-RC, because all I have to do is put the old XP-Pro hard drive back in and I'm good to go with an installation that I'm used to and that works fine. (Actually, I do put the old XP-Pro drive back in every month or so to update the anti-virus etc).

    @Jacqui - The RC download 'terms and condition' explicitly stated that WIn7-RC would go through this 'shut down and deny' process. Also, since it was free, no contract exists between Microsoft and a Win7-RC user. In this situation, they have no obligations towards any WIn7-RC user.

    1. Nigel 11

      User migration tools

      Presumably you'd use the same user-migration tools that you'd use when you upgraded your PC and wanted your old systems files and settings applied to the new one. I can't vouch for how well they work (in the RC, or for that matter in full W7), but they're there.

    2. rcdicky


      "So I lose all my tweaks and configuration and the entire look/feel that I spent ages setting up since last July when I installed Win7 RC on my laptop??"

      In a word YES - Knowing about this well in advance, I can't believe you're now complaining that it's actually coming into effect...

      Don't install an RC in the future and invest so heavily in 'tweaking' it if you can't handle the end result.

      I bet you complain about bugs when Beta testing games...

      1. frank ly
        Thumb Down

        And Jeez to you

        I knew I'd have to buy a license at some point but I reasonably (in my opinion) believed that would be to enter and flag my RC installation as legitimate and let me keep getting updates etc. As far as I know, it was not made clear that a fresh install would be needed.

    3. Steven Knox

      Not So.

      "Also, since it was free, no contract exists between Microsoft and a Win7-RC user. In this situation, they have no obligations towards any WIn7-RC user."

      That's completely false. A contract does not have to include financial remuneration. A contract exists whenever two individuals promise to provide each other with any form of benefit.

      In this case, the details of the contract between RC users and Microsoft are pretty much spelled out in the terms and conditions the RC users had to accept before downloading/installing the RC.

    4. Anonymous Coward


      "Also, since it was free, no contract exists between Microsoft and a Win7-RC user."

      Wrong. There's a contract regardless of payment or other consideration. The terms of the contract is the EULA. Which coincidentally neatly describes the whole fuss and bother. Try again.

      1. frank ly

        Re. Contracts

        In all my reading on the subject of 'contracts', it has been stated that for a contract to exist in law, there must be payment (or 'consideration' as it is called). So, unless I pay MS some money (and get a receipt for it) or perform some agreed work for them (and be able to prove that I did), then there is no legally binding contract between us.

        As far as I know, this is the situation for UK law. It may be different in other jurisdictions.

  13. Martin 75
    Thumb Up

    @ Jaqui

    Are you mentaly retarded, or just like trolling Microsoft posts with completely irrelevant trash?

    I for one look forward to the swathe of Spurious class action lawsuits this creates, as it's another excuse to laugh at people with no crip on reality what so ever.

    Care to explain why it is Illegal to Shut down a free version of software that says "Not for Production Use - I shut down on Day X" ?

    Please stop using the internet. Forever.

    1. Nigel 11

      Illegal to destroy user's data.

      It would almost certainly be grounds for damages, to perform a destructive shut-down that destroyed the user's data. It might even be illegal in criminal law. However, merely refusing to boot while leaving the user's data accessible to third-party tools (or a paid-for licensed Windows) is probably OK (IANAL)

      Maybe compare shredding someone's tyres when they park where they shouldn't, to applying a wheel clamp and demanding a license, sorry parking, fee? Incidentally the key to whether wheel clamping is legal, is whether you entered into a contract with the owner of the parked-on land permitting the enforcement. The presence or absense of clear notices stating the rules determines whether you did. So it's quite a good comparison. You certainly couldn't have missed Microsoft's notices.

  14. OFI

    Shutdowns eh...

    As has been posted already with it being so easy to circumvent this built in shutdown wotsit I doubt many will be shutting down at all...

    Which reminds me I really should install my retail version!

  15. Tim Brown 1

    XP is fine for me

    I installed the RC under VirtualBox just to take a look at it, and really couldn't see a compelling reason to upgrade any of my XP machines. One small change that I particularly dislike is that the network taskbar icons no longer show network activity.

    As an experiment I didn't bother going through the activation process and after a while it started putting 'The copy of WIndows is not Genuine' on the desktop. That always struck me a slightly amusing since it had been downloaded direct from MS. The fact that no one could be bothered to make a more appropriate message ('This copy of Windows requires activation' for instance) I think speaks volumes about Microsoft's whole approach to development.

    I will periodially boot up Virtualbox to take a look at this whole shutdown malarky.

  16. Inachu


    I really do not like the fact I had to replace my motherboard and now WIndows 7 is tellign me the key that is legit says it is now---- 'This copy of Windows is not Genuine'

    Oh please I just recoered from a hardware crash and I get treated like this?!?!?!?!

    1. No, I will not fix your computer
      Gates Halo

      It's not you......

      What would stop somebody cloing a hard drive and bunging it into another machine? MS would lose a licence, so they "devalidate" a suspect system, sounds reasonable to me, given W7 & Vista licences are not transferrable to a new machine (when does it start to be a new machine?).

      Don't take it personally, just speak to MS and they'll sort it out (or not!);EN-US;CNTACTMS

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Then I understand it doesn't bother you

        if OnStar would shutdown your car's engine after you change tires just to make sure you don't drive a stolen car. Or if you prefer the police to come and arrest you whenever you cut your hair and shave your mustache just to make sure you're not one of the criminals they're looking for. We all know an ounce of prevention.... Come on, think of the children!

    2. HobbleAlong

      It's Legit

      You can, or at least you could a couple of years ago, get on the phone for a couple of hours, stick your nose up someone's butt and get a code that allows you to reactivate windoze. Of course you'll have to go through this BS anytime you need to reinstall; probably once or twice a year.

  17. Steven Raith

    Lots of stupid people

    Right, lets clear this up.

    The RC/Betas were *always* time limited - anyone who has an IQ greater than that of a cup of tea knew this before installing. It's not an issue

    Data loss can be caused by *any* unscheduled shutdown, not just dirty shutdowns where you rip the power cable out. Unsaved documents etc will be lost. As those of us with a greater than double-figure IQ know this, it's not an issue.

    Also, those of us who have been going through the beta/RC process with more than a tiny sliver of wit have known how to modify the version control so that upgrades from betas to RCs work without a hitch. And as it's an RC version an OS, we haven't been keeping our data in the system default folders - instead keeping them on network drives or seperate partitions. Not an issue.

    Anyone who actually gets caught out by this deservers it, frankly. I'm no MS apologist, but they have gone by the book on this one as far as I am concerned.

    That's not going to stop me dragging my machine downstairs so that I can wang Ubuntu, or more likely, Debian, on my Big Box [wireless requires drivers which require internet to get - d'oh - and I'm too lazy to compile the driver offline] on it, and possibly dual boot it with my [valid] XP install for things where I *need* a physical Windows box - firmware upgrades on the phone, stable MSN videoconverencing, etc. Which is less and less these days as I find more and more FLOSS alternatives, it must be said.

    Hell, I might even look into an OEM install of Win7 Ultimate, once I find a job - it's a vast improvement over XP/Vista on my hardware [which is fairly decent spec] so probably worth the bother in terms of security over older versions.

    There isn't any controversy here, at all. This idea of people class-actioning MS for data loss is just utter shite, and the sooner those spouting that idea pull their head out of their arse and realise, the better - it's tiring to read such utter, utter tripe.

    Steven R

  18. Waderider

    Windows 7? No thanks!

    I like to be a raving linux fanboi on occasion, but being aware this makes me unbalanced, I tried RC Build 7100 for a few months.

    What a steaming pile. I find the idea people are still using it to be repulsive. XP is the future, of the past, still.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Scheduled actions...

    Schedule for execution every 30 mins:

    - execution of shell script, with administrative permissions:

    "shutdown -a"

    (-a as in abort shutdown)

    - Save and close

    - Profit

    1. James Butler

      Nice Illustration..

      ..of why all of the uproar over Google is bullsh*t. How is it that Microsoft can be applauded for this amazingly intrusive demonstration of how much of you they pwn, but when it comes to Google, it's all "they're stealing my soul!"? Thanks for showing us your true colors, El Reg. Keep jamming the "Google is evil" mantra down our throats while Microsoft happily runs admin scripts on your box at will.

      1. jake Silver badge

        @James Butler

        "Keep jamming the "Google is evil" mantra down our throats while Microsoft happily runs admin scripts on your box at will."

        Microsoft doesn't run anything on my box(es). And I don't touch google.

        Why? I'm glad you asked ...

        MS, because I don't buy into "you must upgrade everything every year or so, and we own your entire disk operating system including your data", and google because I don't buy into "we're keeping a massive database of everything you do, so you don't lose it! It's for your own good! Trust us, we're not evil! This is to make your life easier! Really! (sutto voice "you fucking ignorant sheeple")."

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Gates Halo

        Stop whining and pay for it!

        If you don't like it, use a free OS! It is *that* simple!

  20. William Wallace

    3 Licence Upgrade still available

    Just in case anyone missed out on the 3 Licence introductory offer pack, it is still available from I ordered mine last Wednesday and it arrived the following Friday afternoon.

  21. Anonymous Coward


    has the answer :-)

    A quick BIOS update and OEM cert and bobs yer uncle...

  22. Inachu

    MS is already messing me up telling me my copy is not valid.

    My motherboard went bad and now WIndows 7 pro is telling me it is not legit.

    COMMON!!!!!!! BRAND NEW PC and weather knocked out most everything and now

    it is forcing me to communicate with microsoft to pay $5,$10,$25

    To reactivate my OS when it is a retail purchase?!?!

    Microsoft you are killing me!

    I may just keep the black wallpaper as is and refuse to reactivate it out of spite.

    You treat honest customers like me like crap then tell us to pay to get another key?

    Go take a hike down a cliff!

    1. MadonnaC

      Come On!

      It's foring you to pick up the phone to a number microsoft foot the bill for and type in a 42 digit code, just because you changed a major part of the hardware?

      to use another persons car analogy:

      It's like onstar speed limiting your vehicle [not diableing it] just because you ripped the engine and electrics out and put in a JATO rocket.

      "but it's still the same car' - not with network/usb/video/cpu/bois changed, it isn't.

      boo-hoo - on your 4th reinstall you have to call someone.

  23. Robin Szemeti

    How is this news?

    You are saying that its going to go off every two hours or so, losing all my work? This is Windows ... its been doing that for years!

  24. John F***ing Stepp

    Heroin ware?

    A really painful and unsatisfactorily experience with a computer and you have to pay to continue.

    Wow, you can make money pushing drugs or crappy software.

  25. Craig 12

    media center

    I'm still running the RC with xmbc and a bunch of emulators etc. So as long as I watch/play stuff under 2 hours, I'm OK? :)

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