Windows 7 Upgrade Clean Install - How to get it to accept the Upgrade Key

By donmc, 19 November, 2010

How to Install Windows 7 to a NEW Drive using an Upgrade DVD

I recently had to deal with Microsoft Support on this issue, and I can save you a great deal of time by passing on this procedure to you. Here's the scenario: you want to upgrade to a new monster SATA drive, and do a clean install of Windows 7 from an UPGRADE DVD, but the way the upgrade is setup, you need to first install the VISTA or XP version of windows so that the upgrade can run without activation errors. Well, I'm told by Microsoft Support that the following sequence will work:

  1. Boot up the PC with the Windows 7 Upgrade DVD disc media into DVD-ROM drive.
  2. Follow the Windows 7 Installer to install the new operating system onto the empty disk drive.
  3. During installation, when prompted for a product key, DO NOT enter the upgrade version product key - in other words, leave the box BLANK and proceed.
  4. DeSelect/untick the Automatically activate Windows when I’m online check box during the installation process.
  5. After Windows 7 is installed, boot up to the desktop, and re-insert the Upgrade DVD. Run the Installer from the DVD (don't BOOT to the DVD), just run it after having booted to the new (un-activated) version of Windows 7. When asked, run the UPGRADE option for the installer against the newly installed Windows 7. You will be asked at some point to key in your Product Key - you now can type in the Upgrade Product Key, and it should successfully activate (assuming that you are online as you do this step).