If you're still running Windows 7
Candidate, you've likely begun to experience bi-hourly shutdowns. Microsoft released
the RC in May as a final public test before the RTM build in July. While the RC
version has been free to use without restrictions since its release, Microsoft
has made it
clear that it planned to discontinue the free ride starting March 1.
Users who have ignored the regular pop-up warnings that let
you know of the RC's expiration will now experience a shutdown every two hours.
The shutdowns will continue through June 1, 2010. After June 1, your wallpaper
will be removed and a message will appear to tell you "This copy of
Windows is not genuine." In addition, you will no longer be able to get
optional updates and other downloads that require genuine Windows validation.
Because the bi-hourly shutdowns will not save your work
automatically, you risk losing data by continuing to use the pre-release
version of Windows 7. In order to avoid the shutdowns and data loss, you'll
need to reinstall the operating system that was on the machine before RC or
install a fully licensed and paid-for version of Windows 7. Should you need
instructions to help walk you through the installation process, Microsoft
provides them here.
If you're moving to a released version of Windows 7, you'll need to do a
custom, or clean, install to replace the RC version.