Microsoft Senior Sales Excellence Manager - Eric Ligman

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

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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

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  • I'm trying to understand the EULA concerning "Update" Windows 7.

    In the Retail Windows 7 Professional EULA, I see this:

    "15. UPGRADES. To use upgrade software, you must first be licensed for the software that is eligible for the upgrade. Upon upgrade, this agreement takes the place of the agreement for the software you upgraded from. After you upgrade, you may no longer use the software you upgraded from."

    Let's say I have a PC with FULL Retail Windows 2000 Professional installed. Then I upgrade it using Retail Box XP Professional UPGRADE software.

    Now I want to upgrade it using Retail Box Windows 7 Professional UPGRADE software. Can I "legally" upgrade my PC to Windows 7 or not?

    According to the EULA, it appears I can. I have a license for XP, right? Or do I not have a license for XP?. [EULA: "To use upgrade software, you must first be licensed for the software that is eligible for the upgrade."]

    I have all my Retail Box Windows boxes (2000, XP, and Window 7). I have all my License Keys. I have all of the paper that came with each releaase. All the licenses have been dedicated to this single PC. They are not being used anywhere else.

    If this is contrary to the EULA, I'm not seeing it.

    Thanks in advance,

    Myron Johnson

  • My friend called Microsoft support and he was told to use the hack.

    Maybe Eric you should send a internal memo.

  • If you purchased an 'upgrade' license from Windows NT on up, you can legally upgrade. ie:

    WinNT4 > Win2k Pro > WinXP Pro > Win7 Pro

    Also, I would recommend a clean install in each phase of this process, instead of an 'on-disk' upgrade (where applicable).

    I must say this: Microsoft and it's employees are made aware of the licensing confusion with nearly every product release, yet they continue down the same path.  

    At a recent developers conference, it took literally hours to review the licensing.  For more read here:

    And here is a boot camp you can attend to understand the incomprehensible!

    Really, it's just ridiculous.

  • stay classy! real nice of you to call Ed and Paul hacks, perhaps you should talk to your support team who gives out the same work around.

  • You can use a windows 7 upgrade disk to install windows 7 RTM over an windows 7 Beta/RC install. However you must use the "custom install option" and you must own a valid windows license for that computer to comply with MS EULA.

  • “...hack (be it a person or a procedure)..."

    This "hack" is now being given out by Microsoft phone support. So when you refer to a "person" as a hack, are you referring to Microsoft employees?

  • @ Win Admin - As I mentioned in my post on the 2nd, the "hack" is the process.  As I mentioned in both this post and the one on the 2nd, if you are licensed properly, doing the clean install is allowed and is not an issue at all.

  • @Tyler - Nowhere did I call either Ed or Paul hacks. In fact, in my post on the 2nd I even even explained why they are not hacks.  As far as support pointing to the process, as I have noted in my post above, my post on the 2nd, and in numerous comments here, if you are licensed properly, you can do a clean install (read the text highlighted in red in the post above).  Why should support not help you in that?

  • @rob - As I have noted in my post above, my post on the 2nd, and in numerous comments here, if you are licensed properly, you can do a clean install (read the text highlighted in red in the post above).

  • I bought my HP desktop computer a couple of years ago.  It came with Windows XP installed, with an offer for free upgrade to Vista Home Premimum.  I did the upgrade.  Now, I want to upgrade to Windows 7 Professional.  HOWEVER, I read somewhere that I cannot go from Vista Home Premimum to 7 Professional.  I'm not a computer geek.  Nor am I a hacker.  Just need a simple answer.  Yes or no.  Thanks.

  • @skiperoo - Yes, if you look in my "What versions of Windows qualify for the Windows 7 Retail Box upgrade?" post, located at:, you will see that any version of Windows Vista qualifies the Windows 7 upgrade.  From a technical perspective, you will need to do a clean install vs. an upgrade installation to go from Windows Vista Home Premium to Windows 7 Professional.  There is a chart showing which versions require clean installs vs. upgrades at:

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