How to do a clean install of Windows 7 using only an upgrade version

You can install the upgrade version of Windows 7 without having any previous Windows version at all. Windows 7 will accept an unactivated Windows 7 installation as a previous version. This can save you between $75 and $160 by buying an upgrade version instead of a full version of Windows 7.

How to perform a clean Windows 7 install with an upgrade DVD

Step   1- Boot from the Windows 7 installation CD.
Step   2- Select “Install Now” and DO NOT enter product key.
Step   3- Turn off option to “Automatically activate Windows when I’m online”.
Step   4- Confirm that you truly want to install without entering a product key.
Step   5- Indicate which version you wish to install (choose the version you have the license for).
Step   6- Select Custom Install, DO NOT select upgrade
Step   7- After installation is complete and you are finally at the Windows 7 Desktop navigate to the installation DVD and double click on setup.exe – DO NOT activate yet! (you can also eject the DVD and then reinsert it. This should start the installation program)
Step   8- Once the setup program runs select Install Now. Select “Do not get the latest updates for installation”.
Step   9- Enter the product key now. (you are now doing an “upgrade installation” of Windows 7)
Step 10- Again, turn off “Automatically activate Windows when I’m online”.
Step 11- Choose “Upgrade” and wait while the installer copies files and reboots.
Step 12- DO NOT boot from the DVD if asked. Just wait a few seconds and setup will continue.
Step 13- Several menus may appear that appear to be DOS windows. Don’t touch. These will take care of themselves.
Step 14- A Thank You dialog box will appear. Click the “Start” button and wait for the login box.
Step 15- Reboot. At the Welcome Screen choose “Show more details”.
Step 16- Click “Activate Windows now”.
Step 17- That was easy! You’ve just completed a full install with an upgrade version.

Now doing this may present a moral delima for some, and I can not decide for you whether or not to do this. I’m sure if you check the EULA for Windows 7 that this is a violation. I take that back. I’m positive this is a violation.

But why is it possible? You can’t tell me that thousands of programmers at Microsoft, and thousands of beta tester throughout the world missed this. I don’t believe it. There has been talk that this may be an interesting “backdoor” marketing move by Microsoft. What do I mean by that?


If you look back to our Windows 7 Complete Guide you’ll notice the prices are the highest of any OS in history. I believe my price comment from that article was, “Ouch!”. I’m not alone on this one either. The internet is full of others commenting on Windows 7’s price. Maybe (just guessing here) Microsoft knew there would be a big brouhaha about the price. Maybe this “work around” is included on purpose in hopes that it would secretly spread though the internet allowing Microsoft to save face, feel warm and fuzzy inside, and still maintain a market price they think is fair? Actually this was done so a purchaser of a Windows 7 upgrade don’t have to install an older operating system before installing Windows 7.

I don’t know why. I can’t explain it. I don’t think Microsoft overlooked it. It boils down to you. If you feel comfortable using this work around, then by all means do. Hey! What’s a few hundred bucks between you and Microsoft?

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3 thoughts on “How to do a clean install of Windows 7 using only an upgrade version”

  1. Can you please detail how to dual or multiboot windows xp and upgrade windows 7 with or without Acronis Disk Director Suite 10.

  2. Had a Vista mx that I had upgraded to Windows7 Pro. That laptop died past the point of revival. New laptop came with Windows7 Home Premium installed. Can I use my Windows7 Pro upgraded disk to install Pro on my new laptop — using the techniques described?

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