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Upgrade the Windows 7 RC to any retail version

Upgrade the Windows 7 RC to any retail version

Updated 6 October, 2009: After investigation, we are the first to discover that it is possible to upgrade the Windows 7 release candidate to any retail (RTM) version of Windows 7. This procedure is now reflected in step 3

Windows 7 launches on October 22, and that means it will soon be time to jump ship on the release candidate. If you thought it would be as easy as popping in the retail disc and upgrading to the final version, think again: Microsoft put the kibosh on that idea by blocking upgrades from the RC. Luckily for you, there’s a workaround, and Icrontic will show you exactly how it’s done.

No upgrades for the Windows 7 RC? Lies and slander!

No upgrades for the Windows 7 RC? Lies and slander!

Fair warnings: Microsoft hit RC-to-Retail upgrades with the big, red denied stamp to avoid undesirable conflicts between files, settings and registry entries from differing versions of Windows 7. We think the risk is exaggerated, but this is the last stop for those who are squeamish about a clean OS. Ready to gamble? Read on!

Step 1

Insert the Windows 7 DVD in your PC and copy its contents to a folder on your hard drive. In the image below, we’re moving the DVD from Z: to some empty space we’ve created on our X: drive.

copy_dvd_to_usb

Step 2

Next, open the sources folder that was copied from the Windows 7 DVD. Locate and open a file named cversion.ini; it should appear as in the image below. Change the highlighted portion to read 7077.0, and then save the file.

cversion_ini_change

This change tells the retail Windows 7 installer that any build of Windows 7 down to 7077 is eligible for upgrade, and that happens to include build 7100, better known as the Windows 7 release candidate.

Step 3

NOTE: If you are upgrading to the retail edition of Windows 7 Ultimate, this step should be skipped.

By default, it is not possible to “downgrade” the installed version of Windows 7 to a lesser edition. This is problematic, as the release candidate is the Ultimate version of Windows, while most users will be purchasing Home or Professional. Thankfully, this too can be overcome.

To start, crack open the registry on the release candidate box and navigate to the HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\Current Version folder. In the right-hand pane, there are two registry entries named EditionID and ProductName, as can be seen in the following image.

win7_alter_registry

Edit these registry entries to report the retail edition of Windows you intend to upgrade to. For example, users looking to upgrade the release candidate to the RTM of Home Premium would use HOMEPREMIUM for the EditionID, and Windows 7 HOMEPREMIUM for the ProductName.

Step 4

Now that you’ve slapped the involved parties into accepting one another, the last thing to do is to start the upgrade. Simply run setup.exe from the retail Windows 7 folder on your hard drive, and select upgrade when prompted.

Sit back, relax, and for it all to finish.

Sit back, relax, and wait for it all to finish.

Final thoughts

Remember that Microsoft doesn’t officially support upgrades from the Windows 7 Release Candidate to the RTM. The firm has gently implied that, on rare occasion, it is possible for a system’s stability to be compromised as a result of an upgrade, so be sure to back up any important data before proceeding.

The entire process usually takes about an hour, but it could be much longer if you frequently use the My Documents or Program Files folders. When in doubt, let the installer run a little longer, and be sure to leave non-essential USB devices disconnected. When all is said and done, all you’ll need to do is activate to be on your merry.

Once upon a time, this install of Windows was the Windows 7 Ultimate RC.

It may be the retail edition Windows 7 Professional now, but an hour ago it was the Windows 7 Ultimate RC!

Questions, comments, concerns? Make sure to sound off in the comments below!

Note: It is not necessary to keep the files you copied from the Windows 7 DVD. You can delete them after the upgrade is completed.

Comments

  1. djmeph
    djmeph Thank You! Now my boss will spare my life.
  2. Cliff_Forster
    Cliff_Forster This article is going to make many RC users very happy.
  3. Todd Great tip! Now I know why I left a big empty partition when I first loaded 7RC.
  4. chizow
    chizow This definitely works for RC to RTM, but only for Ultimate as the article disclaimer indicates:
    Lastly, be aware that the RC-to-Retail upgrade process only works with the retail edition of Windows 7 Ultimate. A technique which opens the upgrade process to Windows 7 Professional or Home Premium hasn’t been developed yet. We are, however, exploring possibilities; should one bear out, we will update this article with the necessary steps.

    That should be displayed more prominently imo, as the price of Ultimate jumps drastically for all versions and the pre-order deals in June were only for HP and Pro.
  5. Butters
    Butters Did this when Win 7 was available to Technet. It works great!
  6. BuddyJ
    BuddyJ Hey Chizow, I know something you don't!

    /me sings.
  7. Thrax
    Thrax <b>UPDATE:</b>

    This guide now includes the steps necessary to upgrade from the Windows 7 release candidate to any retail version of Windows 7.

    We have certified the steps by successfully converting an RC install to the retail version of Windows 7 Professional.

    Enjoy!
  8. chrisWhite
    chrisWhite This. Is. Awesome. Great work Thrax!
  9. mas0n
    mas0n Robert, you're my hero.
  10. Geek_Tech_Edge Thanks this will save me the hassel of having to install from sratch along with all my program files!
  11. Allan I concur - this is great info just in time for the release. I will be installing the European version of W7 which I think does not allow an upgrade at all. Does anyone have any experience with this release relative to W7RC. Given that an upgrade may not be possible, what's the next best (least worst) route?
    Thanx in advance for your help - Al
  12. CyberBob This is great! I'm assuming that this will work for Upgrade retail disks as well as Full (not-upgrade) disks? There's a big difference in price between the two.
  13. Thrax
    Thrax @Allan: For Euro users, a clean install is unfortunately the only way. I do advise making a backup of your current user profile using Windows Easy Transfer... This will save all of your desktop settings, favorites (for both Firefox and IE), documents, SOME program settings, and more. You'll have to reinstall drivers and any programs that were lost in the reformat, but the WET file will save you a lot of time.

    @CyberBob: As far as I am aware, it will work for upgrade and FPP discs just the same. :)
  14. User 1 Ive done this 2 times now and some applications will work that came with windows... but other things like firefox or even installers for programs will not launch.

    Any suggestions?
  15. Thrax
    Thrax There are SO MANY variables that could lead to the problem you are experiencing. Some users on another forum were experiencing the same symptom (with a clean install)... Bad memory for one person, overheating processor for a second, a virus scanner for a third person was gumming up the works.

    What I can tell you is that I had no troubles on my end. The PC happily browsed on firefox, etc. I wish I could be more help, but there are simply too many variables to consider to give you a concrete answer.
  16. Nic Hi to all. my rc win7(watermark says win 7 evaluation copy build 7100) but the minclient reads=7077.0 and minserver=7000.0. Can i still do the upgrade. IF not what do i do? and on a final note where do get the serial and product key to activate(surly the rc keys wont do job). And if some one could provide them or a link or even a crack would be much appreciated. Thanks for your time.
  17. Nic Sorry previous post is meant to read; my release candidate copy of windows 7. Thanks for the great post and help again:)
  18. Thrax
    Thrax
    Nic wrote:
    Hi to all. my rc win7(watermark says win 7 evaluation copy build 7100) but the minclient reads=7077.0 and minserver=7000.0. Can i still do the upgrade. IF not what do i do? and on a final note where do get the serial and product key to activate(surly the rc keys wont do job). And if some one could provide them or a link or even a crack would be much appreciated. Thanks for your time.

    1. Yes, it will still work.
    2. You buy Windows. We're not here to help you steal.
  19. Nic Hi i am sorry, i dont want to steal or do anything illigle but i am concerned that with the rc i could not even get into the trail with out the activation key, which i got from microsoft but will it be the same with the rtm where i dont know where to get a key from? PLEASE dont think i want to do anything illigle but i was and i still concerned. Thank you so much for your reply.
  20. Thrax
    Thrax The RTM is the final retail copy purchased from a store. The key comes with the product, and it'll be available on October 22.
  21. chizow
    chizow The registry tweak to enable upgrade to any RTM version is brilliant! Doesn't really help me as a TN subscriber but will be a great solution for all those pre-order upgraders.
  22. Nic Hi i'v followed your instructions perfectly and have attemted 3 times but i still have build 7100 but in my cversion.ini the minclient is 7077 and the minserver 7000. PLEASE PLEASE help! am i doing something wrong. what should i do?
  23. chizow
    chizow
    Nic wrote:
    Hi i'v followed your instructions perfectly and have attemted 3 times but i still have build 7100 but in my cversion.ini the minclient is 7077 and the minserver 7000. PLEASE PLEASE help! am i doing something wrong. what should i do?
    Do you have a valid RTM key and installation disc/image? This isn't a magical hack to transform a RC install into an RTM install, it simply tricks the RTM installer into thinking the installed RC version is compatible for upgrade to RTM.
  24. Chuck Curious whether you've tried this on the 90 day Enterprise trial. I've just spent many hours loading up a 64 bit Win 7 trial with all my office software to confirm compatibility before deploying to a production environment. Very impressive, positive result. All the software works magnificently, some of which is very poorly coded and crash prone. All my printers, scanners, etc perform using Vista 64 drivers. No issues with SBS 2003 or MS Exchange.

    I set up the trial build knowing that it would be good only for a short time, so have used trial versions of all the applications. Now you've got me wondering whether this RC-to-RTM conversion might work on a RTM Enterprise trial to Professional Retail conversion.
  25. Thrax
    Thrax I'm afraid I have no data on Enterprise. It seems to me, though, that you could make a VHD of Enterprise, boot it into a VM and try the upgrade. :)
  26. Nic Thanks but I have done some research and have found out my 'rc' version is actualy a pre-rc version and that it says it is build 7100 and is not elegable for this upgrade
  27. Snarkasm
    Snarkasm Negative, ghost rider. The RC for everybody is build 7100. This will work if you're on build 7100 and want to go to retail.
  28. Nic Will it work if i try do a clean instal instead of an upgrade? my minserver reads 7000 what should i make the minclient? Thanks for all the help so far:)
  29. pigpenz
    pigpenz i have used this three times on machines that I had done minimal testing on an seemed to work great. Am TN subscriber also and dont really want to do a clean install machine that is just used for testing
  30. Thrax
    Thrax
    pigpenz wrote:
    i have used this three times on machines that I had done minimal testing on an seemed to work great. Am TN subscriber also and dont really want to do a clean install machine that is just used for testing

    I'm really pleased this worked for you, Pigpenz! Thanks for posting. :)
  31. Snarkasm
    Snarkasm Nic, if you're doing a clean install, you don't need to reset the minclient or minserver at all. In fact, you don't even need to dump the disc contents. Just pop the disc in the optical drive and go to town on your hard drive.
  32. Nic Thanks for ALL the help(i really apprecate it:)) but i have followed the instructions and have even tried a clean install instead of an upgrade (thanks Snarkasim) but i think i will have to be destined with the rc. Thanks ALL:) If any one has any ideas pls post, there is still a twinkle of hope.... ....
  33. Snarkasm
    Snarkasm Why are you "destined" to stick with the RC (that will expire in June 2010)? Are you trying to do this with a non-retail version of Windows 7?

    If so, yes, you're stuck with it. Piracy doesn't swing it around here.
  34. Jonathan when you upgrade from RC to Professional, are you able to active the upgraded Windows 7 Professional with the windows 7 professional key ?
  35. Snarkasm
    Snarkasm With a true retail Win 7 Professional key, yes.
  36. Jack B. Nimble I love you Mr. Hallock (In a tech/geeky way)...this worked seamlessly. What an ease, and peace of mind not having to restore all those programs. **Sigh** Thank you!
  37. Thrax
    Thrax You're very welcome!
  38. Nic Hi to all once again. I think i might be the biggest idiot in the world. At the start of the tutorial it says insert you windows 7 dvd, is this meant to be the rc or rtm dvd?
  39. Snarkasm
    Snarkasm It's supposed to be your retail DVD, the final code version that you hope to end up with.
  40. mtrox
    mtrox Nice guide. I've got a couple of Win 7 upgrade disks coming from Sony and from Lenovo. Any idea if these are these going to be retail disks with an OEM logo on them or will they have some code that prevents me from using them on another machine?
  41. Thrax
  42. Mark I have a netbook that I installed Windows 7 RC on using a USB flash drive. I'm assuming that I can use the above process to upgrade RC using my flash drive?
  43. Thrax
    Thrax Yes, if you copy the retail DVD to the flash drive, then edit the minclient file on the USB stick, and perform the registry changes on the host OS, it will work fine. :)
  44. Nick Why Would We Pay For Windows 7 I Feel Personally That Microsoft Owe Us A Free Version Of Windows After The Abomination That Is Vista Infact microsoft Should Be Knocking on Doors Handing Out Free Copy's To Anyone Who Brought A Computer With Vista On It
  45. ardichoke
    ardichoke You capitalized every word you typed, your argument is invalid.

    Furthermore, if you didn't like Vista then you should have found a manufacturer that offers XP or no OS and bought from them instead. Or you could have built your own and installed XP. Microsoft doesn't owe you anything, you're not entitled to anything, be a more active consumer next time and don't buy the product if it's bad. Oh, and before you accuse me of being a fanboy, this is coming from someone who is probably more critical of Microsoft than most of the people on these forums.
  46. Nic Who is this nick from the second previous post? I really and sincerly hope you are not trying to use my name. Which is nic, not nick.
  47. Thrax
    Thrax Why would he be trying to use your name?
  48. _k
    _k Wait wait.....there are TWO NICKS?!!:honoes:
  49. Kenny C. Ok, I can be classified as a complete idiot when it comes to Windows OS but here goes. I had a computer that had Windows XP that I loaded the Windows 7 RC. (BTW...I love it!!!)

    I purchased the download copy of Windows 7 Upgrade on 10/22. They will also send me a backup disk sometime later on. will I have problems using the upgrade disk because I had XP on the machine before? Will the upgrade copy be just fine to get Windows 7 operational on my computer. Any insight would be appreciated.
  50. Thrax
    Thrax If the Windows 7 RC replaced Windows XP completely, you'll have no problems.
  51. Kenny C. How do I verify that was done? When I installed the RC, I wiped out all the pgrms that I had on XP. Will I need to follow the steps above or will I follow the normal upgrade steps. Thanks for your help Robert!!!
  52. Thrax
    Thrax Let me rephrase: If you can no longer load/start/run Windows XP on your machine, just follow the guide as presented, and everything will be okay. :)
  53. Nic Yip there seems to be two Nicks, this Nic aka me and the other Nick.
  54. Snarkasm
    Snarkasm Glad we've cleared that up. Now how about we keep on topic?

    Are OEM full installs available yet anywhere? I keep forgetting to look around.
  55. Thrax
  56. Snarkasm
    Snarkasm I read that article and everything. Damn my forgetfulness...
  57. gneff Will this work with the OEM versions as well or only the full retail?
  58. Thrax
    Thrax OEM versions will work just as well.
  59. Bob Tennent I want to go from RC 32 to Win7 Home Premium 64 using an upgrade DVD. Do I have to go back to Vista and then clean install, or will the trick mentioned here work?
  60. Thrax
    Thrax You will have to perform a clean install to migrate to 64-bit (good choice!). Combing x86 and x64 files is not supported.
  61. ceph Will this procedure work with an oem (system builder's) disk of Win 7 or must it be an upgrade disk?
  62. Thrax
    Thrax If the system builder's disk is a standard OEM copy, which has not been modified by the OEM, then yes it will work fine.
  63. MBT Can we be certain that upgrading this way will remove the RC expiration date of June,2010?
  64. Thrax
    Thrax It is certain. The expiration date is determined by the activation server's analysis of your product's key; RTM keys have no expiration date, while the limited list of RC keys are all flagged to expire on 6/010.
  65. Ben vdP step 4. You may not have hklm (=keyroot instead). search for Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\Current Version string in registry and you'll find the version name.
  66. cbhacking First of all, thank you SO much Robert! I've been walking around with a flashdrive that has the Win7 install binaries on it and was hoping to upgrade my tablet (currently running 7100) to the RTM; this should let me do it!

    On a side note, why does upgrade from Vista work? Vista is build 6000...

    @Kenny C: You can not do an in-place upgrade from XP to Win7; at least, not normally. Technically, if you lower the MinClient value (from the instructions) to 2600 (the build number for XP) it *might* work but I absolutely do not recommend this.

    However, you will be able to use your upgrade disc to install Win7 - you'll just have to do a clean install over XP (which usually means reformatting). Put in the disc and boot off it, select Install. It should detect your XP copy and allow you to install Win7, but it will require that you do a clean install rather than an in-place upgrade.
  67. Scotty Thanks for this guide. Do you also have an idea to downgrade the RTM Ultimate to Home Premium ? Would be cool as well for many people (yeah I know that MS won't support it now....). Thx !
  68. Thrax
    Thrax Scotty: You can try setting the minclient version number to 7600 and performing an upgrade, but I can't guarantee that "upgrading" an RTM to an RTM will work.
  69. Scotty Thanks Thrax, but id didn't work. So I have to do more research....
  70. Luke News: If your on the RC you can still upgrade with the E version. You just can't upgrade from vista with E Version.
  71. gl Thanks a bunch for the registry hack, I just upgraded Ultimate64 RC to HomePremium64 RTM without any problems.
  72. Thrax
    Thrax You're welcome, GL! Thanks for letting us know it worked for you.
  73. rindge The modification sounds great but I am struggling and need help. I can find the cversion.ini file. when I go to change it i get the access denied message. i can save it as a txt file, but then I have two file and the orig ini file still has 7233. can someone advise? i downloaded the home premium version today
  74. Thrax
    Thrax Right click the file, hit properties, and uncheck "Read only." That should fix the problem.
  75. CyberBob Can I use a Windows 7 Upgrade disk, or do I need to have the Full version for this to work?
  76. Thrax
    Thrax You can use an upgrade disc.
  77. Mine Hi Robert, I know the article states any retail version, but could you confirm will this fix work if I buy the any of the Upgrade any time Versions or do I have to buy the complete upgrade version.
  78. Thrax
    Thrax You need an upgrade, OEM, or full retail license. I cannot reasonably assert that an anytime upgrade will work.
  79. FrameExpert
    FrameExpert Thanks for the great article. I just did this to go from Windows 7 Home Premium RC to Windows 7 Ultimate OEM version. You may wonder how I originally got Windows 7 Home Premium RC. I used a trick from Windows Secrets to install Home Premium instead of Ultimate. I did this because I thought that is what version I would finally want. BUT, I changed my mind and decided on Ultimate for the final version.

    Because of this, though, I did have to perform Step 3 and change the registry keys from Home Premium to Ultimate. Otherwise, it wouldn't let me upgrade. In any case, it all worked great and the upgrade took about an hour and a half. Thanks again for the great article.
  80. Strife Worked flawlessly, like I never had to upgrade. The only difference is the version(and the lack of features) and no more watermark on my screen. Thanks!
  81. Jonathan Is there anyway to bypass the space requirements? I'm running W7 RC 7100 on a 35gb partition with 7gb free. I like to keep my OS partition small and all my files on the other parts of my HDD. But the setup says I need 11gb?? wtf?! I don't want to have to uninstall a few apps just to upgrade to the retail version... Any help appreciated. Thanks!
  82. Thrax
    Thrax You're welcome, guys! Thanks for dropping us a line. :)
  83. Thrax
    Thrax
    Jonathan wrote:
    Is there anyway to bypass the space requirements? I'm running W7 RC 7100 on a 35gb partition with 7gb free. I like to keep my OS partition small and all my files on the other parts of my HDD. But the setup says I need 11gb?? wtf?! I don't want to have to uninstall a few apps just to upgrade to the retail version... Any help appreciated. Thanks!

    The space requirements are not a joke! The Windows install routine needs significant temporary space, and space to move your files during the install process. You might try reclaiming some space by turning off hibernate: Launch a command prompt as an administrator and type "powercfg -h off" and hit enter. After you restart, it will clear the hibernate file which is equal to the amount of RAM you have. If you have 4GB RAM, it might push you overr 11GB. Otherwise, burn some data to dvd temporarily.
  84. Sri Lankan GSB Hi,
    Thanks for the great article. Can step 3 above be used to upgrade from Vista Home Premium to Windows 7 Professional in place? Or are the registry settings different for a Vista to Win 7 upgrade?

    Thank you!
  85. randalltrini Hey Robert,

    Thanks a million for you article. One question. I have ordered Windows 7 Professional Upgrade. Will the procedure work on this version of the retail?
    Also, if for some reason it fails or I get application or issues with my RC partition, can I go ahead and do a clean install on my XP partition? Or will I get a serial # conflict (do I have to unistall from the RC partition or somehow deactivate the licence?)

    Thanks in advance,

    Randall
  86. Thrax
    Thrax
    Hi,
    Thanks for the great article. Can step 3 above be used to upgrade from Vista Home Premium to Windows 7 Professional in place? Or are the registry settings different for a Vista to Win 7 upgrade?

    Thank you!

    It might be usable, but I can't guarantee you anything. I'd back up your important data before you try. Though it's best just to do a clean install, as upgrades from one OS to another are never all that great.
    Hey Robert,

    Thanks a million for you article. One question. I have ordered Windows 7 Professional Upgrade. Will the procedure work on this version of the retail?
    Also, if for some reason it fails or I get application or issues with my RC partition, can I go ahead and do a clean install on my XP partition? Or will I get a serial # conflict (do I have to unistall from the RC partition or somehow deactivate the licence?)

    Thanks in advance,

    Randall

    1. Yes, it will work.

    2. You can do a clean install on your XP partition, but it's advisable to format the RC partition if it's being problematic. You'll get two Windows 7 entries at boot if you don't.

    3. You won't have any activation problems.
  87. Richard I followed all the directions, checked and double checked the registry file and the Windows 7 instalation disk copied to a network drive and it still says that I can't upgrade an Ultimate to a Professional. I just got the disk in the mail yesterday. Any ideas?
  88. Thrax
    Thrax Please post a picture of the registry. Secondly, you have the release candidate installed, correct? NOT one of the leaked Ultimate RTMs?
  89. Michael Joseph I am having difficulty with step 3. Cracking open the registry on the Release candidate box. Is this on the system or part of the 7 DVD? Is there a specific line to type in after regedit in the command line?
  90. Richard_Connecticut
    Richard_Connecticut
    Thrax wrote:
    Please post a picture of the registry. Secondly, you have the release candidate installed, correct? NOT one of the leaked Ultimate RTMs?

    Nope, not one of the leaked Ultimate RTM's. Got it directly from Microsoft. Everything is legit.

    I tried installing it from a folder in the root directory, then I attached a network drive and tried to install from there. I moved an old "Windows Old" folder from the root directory. I rebooted and rechecked, nada. Thanks for your help!
  91. Richard_Connecticut
    Richard_Connecticut I had problems even after following the instructions. However, I found that I did not follow the instructions to the letter. There happens to be more than one Current Version in my registry. I had to find the one that was in the Windows NT folder. I hope my error can help someone else. Thanks again, Richard
  92. Thrax
    Thrax
    I am having difficulty with step 3. Cracking open the registry on the Release candidate box. Is this on the system or part of the 7 DVD? Is there a specific line to type in after regedit in the command line?

    It's on the RC box, and there's nothing else to type after "regedit" and pressing enter.
  93. Thrax
    Thrax
    I had problems even after following the instructions. However, I found that I did not follow the instructions to the letter. There happens to be more than one Current Version in my registry. I had to find the one that was in the Windows NT folder. I hope my error can help someone else. Thanks again, Richard

    Yes, it's very important that the "current version" in the Windows NT folder get modified. :) It's why I bolded that line in the registry.
  94. Richard_Connecticut
    Richard_Connecticut
    Thrax wrote:
    Yes, it's very important that the "current version" in the Windows NT folder get modified. :) It's why I bolded that line in the registry.


    I had no idea I would find the "Current Version" in more than one folder. I did a search and found that I was in the wrong folder. I successfully upgraded/downgraded RT Ultimate to the end version of Windows 7 Professional. Regardless of your superior intelect, it woud be interesting to me how you came across this very valuable work around. Inside information, colaboration? Thanks again, Richard
  95. Thrax
    Thrax A little trial and error, and a little inspiration from a workaround that allowed Ultimate users to upgrade to Enterprise a few months back.
  96. Richard_Connecticut
    Richard_Connecticut Brilliant!! Thanks again, Professor Richard
  97. Thrax
    Thrax You're welcome, Richard! :D Thanks for registering.
  98. Michael Joseph What is the Windows RC BOX? It's not a physical package, Where do I find it specifically.
  99. technabob Thanks for the pointers. You just saved me many hours of pain going from Windows 7 RC Ultimate to 7 Home Premium final - and it worked without a hitch. All my applications seem to work perfectly fine post-upgrade.
  100. Thrax
    Thrax
    What is the Windows RC BOX? It's not a physical package, Where do I find it specifically.

    Box is another word for computer.

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