On April 24, Microsoft sent out a reminder to testers still running pre-release versions of Windows Vista that they need to update to final versions of the product (or regress to a legal copy of XP) or run afoul of Microsoft's licensing restrictions.
A note sent to press by Microsoft's Vista PR team noted that May 31 is the last day users can legally run beta versions of Vista. The full text of the note:
"On May 31, 2007, the pre-release versions of Windows Vista will expire. Participants in the Customer Preview Program who are still using a pre-release version of Windows Vista Ultimate will be affected by this expiration; however, we expect most beta users will have moved to a full version of Windows by this time. In the case of customers who are still using the pre-release version, Microsoft will send notifications about the expiration. These notifications will start today, April 24th, so that customers will have ample time to back up data and migrate their PCs to the final version of Windows Vista.
"For more information about the upcoming beta expiration, visit the CPP website: http://www.windowsvista.com/preview.mspx."
What happens to those who fail to upgrade (or downgrade)? Looks like your PC will go into reboot hell. Vista beta copies will begin automatically rebooting PCs every two hours until users move to legal copies.
The fine print (from Microsoft's Web site):
"After May 31, 2007, users that continue to use pre-release versions of Windows Vista will be able to log in for 2-hour sessions to retrieve data. After 2 hours of use, the PC will automatically reboot without providing the opportunity to save data. The opportunity to log in normally for these 2 hour sessions will only be available for a limited time."