Today over at the Engineering Windows 7 blog there is a new post that discusses Delivering a quality upgrade experience.

Now like most posts at the e7 blog this one is quite lengthy but there are some real gems in it and some gouge that everyone who is testing/running Windows 7 Beta 1 (Build 7000) should be aware of.

I also can not help but think this post and its timing is for a reason.  There has been a lot of speculation on when the Release Candidate (RC) will be made public.  I have seen dates as early as 10 April floating around the blogosphere and later.

Bottom line though when the RC comes out Microsoft wants you to upgrade to the RC by way of Windows Vista. Yes, you read that right – Windows Vista.

Now I can already hear the rumblings around the net and the stream of comments on all the Windows 7 related websites about how this is wrong and all the time and investment you have made since the December release of Beta 1 to the masses.

However, as a beta tester this makes complete sense.  Out there in all those homes that did not download the Windows 7 Beta 1 sits computer systems running everything from Windows 95 to Window Vista and yes the Build 7000 Beta 1 release of Windows 7.  Now based on the post today at the e7 blog there is not going to be any upgrade path to Windows 7 via Windows XP – this is not new news.  They have said this all along that their will not be a supported upgrade between those two systems.  That also means no upgrades from anything earlier than Windows XP such as Windows ME, Windows 98, Windows 98 SE and Windows 95.

So what is it they are asking you do to if you are running the Beta 1 software.  They understanding and acknowledge the investment many have made to setup their Windows 7 systems and move to them fulltime.  However, an upgrade from Beta 1 to the final release of Windows 7 is not what will happen in the real world.  There will either be upgrades from Windows Vista or clean installs.

So we are being asked to do one of those two things – it is your call which you do but the data Microsoft gets from those experiences will help them make this a better OS in the long run.

However, those guys at the e7 blog are realists too and they know geeks because they are one too :-) so they are providing the instructions on how to skip the validation check and let you install the RC overtop of your current Beta 1 installation.  Now how cool is that for Microsoft to come out and help us be geeks.

Now doling this will be possible with the hack they mention but it will not help them in the data collection and identifying issues that may come up during upgrades.  It will also be a unsupported situation – in other words all bets are off if you upgrade this way.

What is my personal plan?  A clean install and an upgrade.  I want to be able to give Microsoft as much info as I can from my little corner of the world.  What will you provide?

P.S. I also gather from the timing of this post by the e7 team would indicate that the RC is not too far down the road! Now that is good stuff – time for a new build!