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

  • It would be easier if everyone could buy Family Pack. But there are some countries without that option. Why?? Thanks.

  • Hi Eric

    I 'think' I am understanding you correctly.

    What you are saying is that as long as you 'own' a license for a qualifying, previous version of Windows, that you can install an upgrade version of Windows 7, doing 'whatever' it takes to get it installed.

    Is this correct?

    Regards, Ron

  • Ed Bott and Paul Thurrott are not hacks, and it seems really clear that you are trying to call them ones.

    They answered a popular question, namely "How do I upgrade my PC from Win2k, WinXP, or Windows Vista cleanly." With the new migration wizard that comes with Win7, there's no reason to upgrade from within an existing installation. By doing a clean install and migrating settings, you get a better, faster OS.  Microsoft dropped the ball by failing to explaining this, and Bott and Thurrott bailed you out.

    You owe them an apology.

  • geesh people, do any of you read before you post?  if you own a valid full copy of windows xp, vista or 2000 you can use your upgrade version and perform a "custom install" without using any hack. The custom option allows you to competely format your HDD if your so inclined, or leave it intact an thereby save your files to windows.old folder so you can copy and paste them over to your new install documents, pictures ect... before deleting the windows.old folder to reclaim HD space. This is the same as a clean install.

  • I give you an example, My wifes Acer Aspier 1410 came with Vista 32bit , we upgraded to Win7 from the Acer free upgrade. We found the upgrade did not seem to have worked properly. We reinstalled Win 7 by formating the drive. but now the windows key does not work. How do we get this fix. Why is it that the consumer who is a MS Customer suffers.

  • Over the past several days there have been various posts, etc .......

    Why not call it by its name? Paul Thurrot posted an article on how to circumvent upgrade media installation measures and abuse the upgrade media to install a clean copy.

    His excuses? 'He helps millions of users'. And the fact that there is no upgrade from other releases than Vista.

    Of course, those make it alright to post such information.

    The guy is no longer any different from any other person deliberately hacking a product.

    Pretty bad move Paul.

  • @BruceG

    If you have purchased a Windows 7 Retail upgrade then you have a Retail version of Windows 7 period.

    As far as I know there is no such beast as an OEM Upgrade. The Retail part means to have an entitlement to direct support from Microsoft and can move the licence to another PC if you wish to.

    Frankly this whole Upgrade saga confirms that MS still has no clue when it comes to customer service or how to market OS upgrades to the public.

    The assumption seems to be that customers are going to cheat the system rather than simply not understand the baroque licensing terms than MS imposes for upgrade installs.

    Someone in MS should stand up and say "How about treating customers as if they are not all criminals for a change!"



  • Eric, you referenced back to your pretty pictures many times but have failed to address the major problem that "Joe the User" faces with a clean install with a wiped or new drive.

    You say the hack cannot be used, so "Joe the User" has to spend an extra $100 to have someone install an old fully licensed copy first prior to installing windows 7 upgrade version.

    You would have been better off by saying nothing. You are just giving MAC more for a new commercial.

  • Microsoft seems to be punishing some legitimate purchasers of its software by forcing them to use these hacks in order to clean install using upgrade media - even when the customers are legally entitled to use the upgrade media (e.g. they already have properly licences XP or Vista).

    Microsoft, all you are doing here is creating bad feeling from your genuine customers. Maybe it's easier for you to scr*w over your genuine customers than it is for you to go after real softwaree pirates.

  • OK, I haven't read all the comments (I have more to do), but please have a look at this Microsoft page:

    Under "Do I buy an Upgrade or Full license of Windows 7?"

    It says: "All editions of Windows XP and Windows Vista qualify you to upgrade. So, if you're running either on your PC today, buy a package labeled "Upgrade".

    Note **ALL**... not 'only full editions'!

    & like others have said... who doesn't already have a license?

    Microsoft's usual knee-jerk reaction: "You are presumed guilty, unless you can prove you are innocent!"

    Arie Slob,

    Microsoft MVP

  • Haha, how funy :D

    Quote: "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."

    That is quite wrong - in Germany you are LEGALLY (Decision of the German Bundesgerichtshof in 2000) allowed to transfer OEM licences to new PCs (


  • Nice job Microsoft. Take one of your biggest cheerleaders (Paul T.) and throw him under the bus for publishing technical information that we are all desperate for (how to perform a clean install from upgrade media) that Microsoft itself WILL NOT PROVIDE.

    What's next?  Going to hunt down the 1 or 2 Windows Mobile fans out there and send a cease-and-desist letter to them?  

  • so, does a vista business licence qualify for an upgrade to windows 7 professional?

  • Microsoft, without this 'hack' how are people with a FULL legal license supposed to do a clean bare-metal installation? Please provide step-by-step instructions, as I have never seen them. If they don't exist, then what the heck is MS thinking ?!??

  • I had no problem doing a clean install with the HP upgrade, I dual boot with XP Pro and installed 'clean' to the partition where the W7 RC was. My question is: do I now have to delete my copy of XP?

Page 5 of 7 (101 items) «34567