Updated Microsoft will soon put the screws on those still running last year's free preview of Windows 7 by incessantly shutting down their PC.
Starting on February 15, Windows 7 Release Candidate will begin displaying a friendly notice every few hours to either get paying or get bent. Come March 1, the PC will begin a regimen of automatic shut down every two hours.
"To avoid any data loss, I suggest making plans to move to a released version of Windows 7 before the automatic shutdowns start," Microsoft spokesman Brandon LeBlanc posted on The Windows Blog. "During these shutdowns, your work will not be saved."
The automatic shutdowns will continue through June 1, when Microsoft will instead spirit away the PC's wallpaper and stamp a "this copy of Windows is not genuine" notification on the lower right corner of the taskbar. This mark of shame means the computer can't receive optional updates or downloads that require Windows validation.
Escape from the harassment will only come after a clean install of a paid-for copy of Windows. The company has previously stated, however, that users can use an upgrade edition of Windows 7 to move from the RC to a release copy. ®
This article has been updated to clarify the planned Windows 7 RC automatic shut-down period.