Microsoft is warning users of early versions of Windows Vista that the operating system will be crippled starting Friday.
In pop-up messages, Microsoft has told users to: "Back up important data from Windows now. The Windows licence will expire in X days. Back up your files, and then install any edition of Windows Vista."
Unless Vista Ultimate Beta 2, Release Candidate 1 (RC1) and RC2 are upgraded to a legal copy by Friday, machines running those editions will automatically reboot every two hours. This crippled state will continue until Aug. 28, at which point the operating system will refuse to boot.
Microsoft began urging prerelease users to update last month, when the company announced that only Vista RC1 could be upgraded without requiring a clean install that would delete all data from the PC's hard drive, and that only the US$259 Ultimate Upgrade edition could be used for an in-place upgrade of RC1. Vista Beta 2 and RC2, meanwhile, can be upgraded in a clean install using any Vista Upgrade edition.
Alternately, users can revert back to their previous version of Windows, assuming that they have the original installation CD or OEM-provided restore disc. These people must also resort to a clean install.
Users can migrate from a Vista preview by downloading an upgrade from the online Windows Marketplace.