The Microsoft Windows 7 Time Bomb

A while back, I received the Windows 7 pre-release version (Windows 7 RC apparently). I was excited to try it, but decided not to install it after seeing that it had an operational time limit.

Now the time is upon us, and Microsoft’s Windows 7 RC will start notifying users on February 15 that it will start shutting down on March 1. On that date, Windows 7 will start shutting down every two hours, and without warning, potentially causing data loss. The Windows Blog has an article that clarifies these points.

After the June 1, 2010, expiration date passes, Windows 7 RC will flag itself as “not genuine” and will have a black background specifying that fact for all the world to see. Not a pleasant thing to have happen, to be sure.

Even for those who decide to upgrade, an in-place upgrade is not possible; this points to another way for possible data loss during reinstallation. (Another reason to store your data on a separate drive, whether a network drive, USB drive, or separate partition.)

This entire thing is nothing less than a time bomb penalizing the Windows customer for using Windows 7 RC. I am relieved that I, for one, did not install it.

I can only imagine the problems faced by a small shop that installed Windows 7 RC on several clients, now being forced to reinstall Windows 7 from scratch. I can also just imagine what would happen if a UNIX release did this…

6 thoughts on “The Microsoft Windows 7 Time Bomb”

  1. You’re exactly right about the time bomb thing, except that Microsoft made it 100% clear from the beginning that the trial was a limited time offer only, and that it would begin to time out, and eventually fizzle into nothing. So I’m not sure that we should have any sympathy for Windows shops experiencing this, they were certainly warned prior to downloading the RC.

  2. The limitations (and eventual expiration) of Windows 7 RC were clearly stated when it was made available. While it would have been in Microsoft’s best interest to provide a re-activation or upgrade option, they didn’t do anything ethically wrong here.

    Anyone who installed this on production workstations without clearly and repeatedly reminding of the eventual doomsday event deserves whatever fall-out they experience from it.

    1. I’m not sure that there was any notification at all of the “doomsday event”; all I remember was a notice that it would stop working after a certain time.

      Even that I find distasteful – it fails the “smell test”. Better in my mind is the Ubuntu/Fedora model: after the specified time the operating system is no longer supported.

      The fact that the Windows 7 RC operating system will shutdown without warning (and with attendant data loss) is most egregious: this corresponds to the company saying that we will hold your data hostage if you don’t dump Windows 7 RC. I fully expect to see such data loss having serious effects and perhaps a lawsuit or two. I can’t imagine a lawyer would have accepted such a proposition.

      Add to that the fact that after the cutoff date, the user will be essentially using a pirated copy of Windows (“non-genuine”, Microsoft calls it) in violation of copyright and with corresponding criminal penalties. Did the lawyers even look at this?

      To me, this whole thing seems like a revolt by Microsoft against those who used Windows NT all those years even when Windows 2000 and Windows XP came out.

  3. Dave says: “Better in my mind is the Ubuntu/Fedora model: after the specified time the operating system is no longer supported.”

    I disagree… It is better for the OS become progressively less usable- encouraging the user to deal with it, rather than simply cease to receive important security updates and become another spam-bot or worse.

  4. With open source software one thanks users for beta testing.

    In contrast to propreitary software vendors who think that simply allowing them the “privilege” of having their beta “free” is good enough.

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