Microsoft Senior Sales Excellence Manager - Eric Ligman

Eric Ligman, Microsoft Senior Sales Excellence Manager, Blog

Regardless of what any hack says, a Windows 7 Upgrade is an Upgrade. What you need to know.

Eric Ligman    
  Connect with me
  Blog Twitter LinkedIn
  Facebook About Me Feedback

Regardless of what any hack says, a Windows 7 Upgrade is an Upgrade. What you need to know.

image UPDATE: "Hack" identity and more answers from Windows 7 Upgrade Install posted HERE

First, the feedback, excitement, etc. we’ve been seeing since the launch of Windows 7 last week has been phenomenal! Thank you to all of you for providing your feedback to us to let us know how your Windows 7 experience is going.

Unfortunately, it looks like it is time to have this conversation again though. Over the past several days there have been various posts, etc. across a variety of social media engines stating that some “hack” shows that a Windows 7 Upgrade disc can perform a “clean” installation of Windows 7 on a blank drive from a technical perspective. Of course, from the posts I saw, they often forgot to mention a very basic, yet very important piece of information… “Technically possible” does not always mean legal. Let me explain what I mean:

Here are some very basic facts:

  1. When you purchase software, you are purchasing the rights to run the software according to the terms of the End User License Agreement (EULA) that comes with that software.
  2. When you install that software, you are agreeing to the terms included in the EULA you purchased.
    • a. For instance, in the Windows 7 EULA it states, “By using the software, you accept these terms. If you do not accept them, do not use the software. Instead, return it to the retailer for a refund or credit.”
  3. When you purchase an Upgrade license, the included EULA states that you must already own a qualifying full license to upgrade from in order to use the Upgrade license, hence the term “Upgrade.”
    • a. For instance, in the Windows 7 EULA it states, “To use upgrade software, you must first be licensed for the software that is eligible for the upgrade.”

To put it simply, here is a graphical representation of what this means:

General Example   Example with Product Names
image   image

In stark contrast to:

General Example   Example with Product Names
 image    image

So when these posts and write-ups state that you can install clean from an Upgrade piece of software and they fail to mention that you need to own a qualifying software license to be legal to use the Upgrade software for the installation, they give the impression that because it is technically possible, it is legal to do. Unfortunately, by doing this, they irresponsibly put end users at risk of loading unlicensed software. Because of this, I am putting this post up to try and clarify the truth behind what an upgrade license is and provides so that hopefully people will not find themselves misled by some of these other posts and articles that may mislead them to believe something that is very wrong due to their lack of inclusion of this important piece of information.  If the posts or write-ups you saw did include this information, then kudos to that writer for providing the accurate information.

Now there are many, many, many, many of you out there that already own Windows licenses that qualify for the Windows 7 Upgrade, so this is a non-issue for you.  (I am talking about people who own a FULL license for a previous version of Windows for their computers already, as shown in the first picture example above.)  For you, since you have the previous version FULL Windows license and qualify for the Windows 7 Upgrade, you have the rights to do a “clean” install. 

For those of you without an existing FULL Windows license to upgrade from, you should be aware that an Upgrade license by itself is not a license to install and run Windows on your computer. (As an FYI, those who don’t own a full previous version Windows license, as in the second row of picture examples above, and just downloaded the Windows 7 Beta, RC, or RTM code during the trial phases, the Windows 7 Beta, RC, and RTM trials are not qualifying licenses for the upgrade since they are just trial software, not fully licensed software.)  In order to be eligible to use the Windows 7 upgrade, you need to have a qualifying license to upgrade from. Again, that’s why it is called an “upgrade.” For you, Windows 7 is available pre-installed on PCs around the world today, or you can purchase a full Windows license from one of the many Microsoft Partners we have, or you can download it today.  You might also want to check out some of the great “7 days of Windows 7 deals” going on right now, such as the “PC home makeover” offer that gets you a laptop, a netbook, and a desktop PC (all three with Windows 7 installed), plus a monitor, and wireless router, all for just $1,199!

I hope this helps clear up any confusion over what an “Upgrade” really is and is not and who qualifies to install and use an upgrade license in their move to Windows 7.

And please remember, No, OEM Microsoft Windows licenses cannot be transferred to another PC, in case you were wondering if an old OEM Windows license you have laying around or on another PC could qualify for the Windows 7 upgrade on a different PC.

Thank you and have a wonderful day,

Eric LigmanFollow me on TWITTER clip_image001and RSS clip_image002
Global Partner Experience Lead
Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group
This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights

Add to Technorati Favorites
Bookmark on: MSDN , TechNet, and Expression

  • There's be no need for this if upgrade meant just that in the software sense instead of just the licensing sense. The unit is basically doing a clean install from XP anyhow, might as well make it official.

    Should have just been an app to put a hash on a USB key to validate your upgrade from XP for a clean media install to seven (or whatever technical miracle works)

  • Jeebus, you may be right on this, but could you sound any more self-righteous? How about some understanding that a big segment of these problem installs seems not to be piracy, but a result of the brain-numbingly arcane morass of W7 versions, rules, user hardware, and bum MS documentation.

    Don't ask your customers to be conscientious if you can't be that yourself.

  • You guys at Microsoft just don't get it.  These complicated licensing and product activation schemes are doing nothing to help your customers.  You're basically punishing people that are willing to pay for your product, while the pirates you're trying to keep out ALWAYS find a work-around for any anti-piracy method you come up with.

    The fact is, the upgrade system should be just as simple as what Licantrop0 stated above:

    1) Ask for the Windows 7 Product Key

    2) If it's an upgrade Key, ask for an XP / Vista Product Key

    3) If it's a valid Vista / XP Product Key (not in a blacklist), proceed to setup no matter what's on the hard-drive.

    Thankfully, when I upgraded to Windows 7, I had a licensed copy of Vista already installed, and I had not problems doing a fresh install using the Custom (advanced) installation routine.  But what happens if later down the line my hard-drive crashes, and I have to reinstall from scratch?  (A recent interview with the Data Doctor on CNN said that 1 in 20 people will experience a catastrophic hard-drive crash this year.)

    So when those 5% of us have a catastrophic hard-drive failure, and we have to reinstall Windows 7, do we have to install Windows Vista or XP first?  What about all of your customers who aren't computer savvy enough to know that, and they throw out their Windows Vista / XP installation discs because they figure they now have the latest and greatest in Windows 7?

    If these upgrade, licensing, and activation systems weren't so convoluted, it wouldn't be so easy for Apple to make fun of them in their commercials.  It's almost enough to make someone switch.

  • Just a quick question: Isn't the hack made possible because people are allowed to format their partition by booting from the Upgrade media? Why not just disable this option in the Upgrade media? Of course you will then need to make it very clear on the packaging and product advertising that the Upgrade media needs to have a "running and activated qualifying OS" so that people don't buy it by mistake. Isn't that a much simpler solution?

  • Then WHY make it so difficult?

    I mean, there could be a technical very very easy way to avoid the hassle, that current customers have to go through:

    Instead of having a fully activated copy of XP or Vista installed, why not have users enter their old XP or Vista Serial during the activation process of Windows 7?

    Instead you require users to first install XP which is a hassle.

    I mean I am typing this from a fresh Win7 upgrade install. Fortunately I had XP installed and activated before. But there is no rescue partition anymore and I also don't have backup disks. If I ever want to reinstall Win7, I'll run into trouble.

    A valid XP-key however is still printed on the bottom of the case.

    Why let users run through this stupid process of installing an old version first????

  • Vista-OEM + Win7 Retail Upgrade Disk = what?

    Win7 Retail, OR Win7 OEM?


  • Nice work. Treating your customers like potential thieves is a sure way of winning them over to Win7. Who doesn't have a full version of Windows? This could only conceivably apply to someone who built there own computer, or is installing Windows on Mac. I would say both of those cases combined represent an infinitesimal portion of the market. Quit picking at nits and give kudos to the bloggers out there who are doing what MS should have done in the first place: make quick and transparent procedures for the clean install of Win7 using upgrade media.

  • @ Jamie - You posted "The disservice here is that Microsoft screws the unfortunate sole whose drive crashes after they've installed Windows 7 upgrade."  If you read my post above, I specifically stated that for those of you that own a license for Windows 7 (like you since you have upgraded from a qualifying Windows license), you are absolutely eligible to do a clean install unsing the Upgrade media.  Here is the paragraph above the states it:

    "Now there are many, many, many, many of you out there that already own Windows licenses that qualify for the Windows 7 Upgrade, so this is a non-issue for you.  (I am talking about people who own a FULL license for a previous version of Windows for their computers already, as shown in the first picture example above.)  For you, since you have the previous version FULL Windows license and qualify for the Windows 7 Upgrade, you have the rights to do a “clean” install."

    I hope this clears up your concern.  What people appear to be missing in my post above is that nowhere did I state that doing the clean install is not allowed.  My entire post is about making sure people are aware that in order to qualify for an upgrade, you must have a full license to upgrade from.  Also, those who post about the upgrade clean install and fail to mention this fact are giving the impression that buying the upgrade alone counts as a full license, so they should be including that in their messaging.

    Thanks for the inquiry - Eric

  • I'm not a computer illiterate person, but this upgrade stuff is really confusing.

    In June I ordered W7 home premium upgrade from Amazon,for one of my WinXP PRO upgrades. In the system requirements I did not see any specifics about version of XP.

    I forgot about this order until last week when I was sent a notice that my W7 was mailed.

    Then I decided to read about people's experiences.

    On one techie web site (which I don't remeber now) I read a warning to people like me. Since I own winXP, I need to upgrade to W7-pro, I cannot upgrade to W7 home premium!! Is that right? Surprisingly, I could not find a definitive answer on this.

    When I ordered, there was no information (at least to me) that xp-compatibility would not be available for w7 home premium---BUMMER

    Also, I recently learned using NAS for backup is not supported in w7-HP another BUMMER.

    Just because of these 3 concerns, I'm seriously considering to return the W7HP upgrade I've received.

    Why do MS marketing guys has no clue about the chaos they create? Why make it so complicated just to milk corporates. Have two versions, personal and business. Do not cripple the personal ones, we also need XP compatibility, but we do not enjoy spending 200$ on an OS while twice that money can buy us a decent computer.

    Really annoying, confusing and hard to figure out why this is happening the way it is.

    Is it really that hard to come up with clear specs and licensing information?


  • I think MinMe and Licantrop0 are on to something. Very simple solution; enter both product keys. For the love of God make it easier for people to do clean installs on newly purchased HDDs.  We're the people reason you make BILLIONS. Show a little appreciation. If you'd just make it easier to do then tricks wouldn't have to be posted on websites.

  • Hi Eric, you have the patience of a Saint! I bought my Laptop and Desktop new with XP Professional so I can purchase the Upgrade and be fully licensed, correct? Thanks….John

  • @ Mark Schneider - If I understand it correctly, you can do a clean install without a hack as long as you have a qualifying, activated product installed already.  Where the hack is needed is in situations like where your hard drive fails and you don't want to have to restore your entire backup to the replacement drive first, or if you are upgrading your hard drive at the same time and don't want to have to clone your old drive to the new one first.

  • I am failing to remember the last time a home user went through a license audit. Legalities dont matter much to most home users. Cant remember the last time I paid my microsoft tax. Thanks for the F-up, pirates everywhere love it.

  • Thanks for the 3rd-grade level post on software licensing. The 'hack' as you call should not even be required to do a clean install. If I currently own a PC that has Windows XP on it and I buy the upgrade, then I want to do a clean install of Windows 7. Period. Your software should allow a clean install from the upgrade media, the fact that it doesn't is ridiculous! Why don't you ask for a valid Windows XP or Vista CD product key during install and be done with it? Or some other well thought out validation scheme? Instead of harping on those that provide a work-around for you? Microsoft has 85% market share on the desktop, yet you continue to do a huge disservice to your customers in the way you market and manage your products. You have too many Windows 7 SKUs, your upgrade prices are prohibitivly high, your clean upgrade methods for regular users are non-existent, bit locker encryption and whole disk backups not available in all editions. Believe me, I like Windows 7, but sometimes I feel like Microsoft just doesn't get it, and never will. It leaves me scratching my head wondering which committee at Microsoft comes up with these things.

  • I don't no anyone that don't own a copy of Windows.I live in a house with 2 people and we own 5 or 6 licenses. The only way we knew how to do a clean install with upgrade media was with the hack.

    You guys make the simplest things difficult and treat everyone like crooks.

    Your more worried about the few that steal then the tens of Millions that buy your crap.

    Who whats to do a in place upgrade? We've been asking how to do a clean install with the upgrade media for months. No freaking answers.

Page 4 of 7 (101 items) «23456»