Clean-install Windows 7 from the upgrade disc

Woody leonhard By Woody Leonhard

Topping the long list of readers’ Windows 7 questions is whether you can use the upgrade disc to perform a clean-install of the new OS.

You may be surprised to discover that in Windows 7 there’s no difference between the “upgrade” and “full” DVDs and — just as with XP and Vista — the cheaper upgrade version can indeed beused to perform a clean-install.

But that’s just one of your many Windows 7 questions. From what’s possible, to what’s legal, to what-on-earth-were-they-thinking, here’s the skinny on the ins and outs of Microsoft’s best OS yet. There’s no way to fit all your Win7 queries into a single column, so you can be sure I’ll have many more Win7 FAQs in the weeks to come.

Will a Win7 upgrade disc install the full OS?

  • “It looks like you can use the upgrade version of Windows 7 to install a ‘genuine’ copy of Windows 7 on any PC, whether it already has Windows on it or not. Why would anybody pay way more money and buy a full-install version of Windows 7 instead of an upgrade version?”
Good question. So far, the only people I know who’ve paid for the full version of Windows 7 thought they had to buy it because they were running Windows XP. When they read that they couldn’t do an in-place upgrade from XP to Win7, they mistakenly thought they had to buy the full release. They got ripped off.

The terminology stinks, but as you will see below in my discussion of upgrade pricing, almost everybody qualifies for an upgrade version of Windows 7.

In my experience, most people using the upgrade package find that their new Win7 key validates immediately after the PC connects to the Internet. You can maximize your chances of getting instant gratification (validation), however.

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Woody Leonhard

About Woody Leonhard

Woody Leonhard is a Windows Secrets senior editor and a senior contributing editor at InfoWorld. His latest book, the comprehensive 1,080-page Windows 8 All-In-One For Dummies, delves into all the Win8 nooks and crannies. His many writings tell it like it is — whether Microsoft likes it or not.