Vista needed for next Windows 7 upgrade

Microsoft Corp. last week urged Windows 7 beta testers to return their machines to the Windows Vista operating system before upgrading to the impending release-candidate version of the new software.

Windows 7 Release Candidate, the next milestone for the operating system, is expected to be available sometime next month.

In a post on its Engineering Windows 7 blog, Microsoft asked users to revert to Vista to ensure that their upgrade process is "something real-world customers will experience."

Microsoft said that bugs or other problems reported while upgrading from one prerelease build to another aren't worth fixing. "We don't always track them down and fix them because they take time away from bugs that would only manifest themselves during this one-time prerelease operation," it said.

Microsoft acknowledged the difficulty that its request poses to users. "We know that means reinstalling, recustomizing, reconfiguring and so on. That is a real pain," it said in the blog.

For Windows 7 beta testers who decline to revert to Vista before upgrading, Microsoft provided instructions for circumventing a built-in check that bumps users out of the release candidate installation if the beta is still present. The process involves booting from an external drive or another partition, and then modifying an installation file with a text editor.

Meanwhile, a survey by ChangeWave Research found that the number of Windows 7 beta testers who were satisfied with the operating system was four times higher than that of early users of Vista.

In a poll of IT professionals, the market research firm found that 44% of 68 users testing Windows 7 were "very satisfied" with the beta. In a February 2007 ChangeWave survey conducted just weeks after Vista's launch, only 10% of the respondents expressed the same level of satisfaction with that operating system.