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Windows 7: Doing a Clean Install with a Upgrade Windows 7 Version

15 May 2011   #301

Windows 7 64 bit

Another technique to try if all else fails is the double install route.

You first install from the upgrade media, but do NOT enter the product key. Then do an upgrade install which updates the first install. It seems kind of dumb, but it is supposed to work.

Clean Install with a Upgrade Windows 7 Version

My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Jul 2011   #302

Windows 7 Pro x64

I found a neat little bug/trick that is helpful in 2 ways in regards to this topic.

If anyone here has/had MSDN or similar during the Vista days, you might remember the Universal Install Disc. There you boot from the DVD and skip the CD Key step and it would prompt you asking if you wanted Home Basic, Home Prem, Pro, Ultimate, Enterprise, etc. You still needed a 32bit Disc and a separate 64bit Disc though.

Well apparently in Windows 7 MS stopped offering such an ISO.
There turns out to be 1 file on the Disc called ei.cfg that contains the version (Home Prem, Pro, etc).
When this file is removed, the Windows 7 Disc goes back to being a Universal installer. (32 vs 64 still separate)
Dumping the contents of the DVD or ISO to your HD just to delete that 1 file and put it all back together is a big PITA though.
Some wonderful person out there however figured out that an ISO is like a HD, there is a File Table and a separate area for the raw data. And you can easily edit the file table section to tell the ISO the ei.cfg doesn't exist without having to actually remove the bits from the data section.
Thus was born the "eicfg removal utility"
So if you have a Disc, just rip a copy to ISO form using ImgBurn or similar.
If you already have an ISO like from Digital River (Student purchase plan aka you can just use that.
Then run the removal tool against the ISO and 5 seconds later the ISO is now a Universal Installer again.

Now you read all that and yer asking yourself WTF does that have to do with THIS thread though.
Well it just so happens that as a side effect of using the Universal Installer and skipping the License key during install (you can put it in later) is that the Registry key mentioned in Method 3 of the My Digital Life article is automatically flipped the correct way for you.

So all you do is Install, choose the right version during install but skip the key and then enter your Key and Activate online after the install is finished. No hassles with old media or double installs or anything.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Jul 2011   #303

Win 7 Home Premium 32 bit
Edition ID

A good tip, however it's pretty easy to just delete the ei.cfg file and reburn the disc. Took me a few minutes and I was installing Win7 with the new disk (with my choice of Win7 OS). I didn't find any reason to edit files or use a removal tool.

You can find the ei.cfg file on the install disc in Windows 7\sources
My System SpecsSystem Spec

08 Jul 2011   #304
Gilly Boy

Windows 7 Ultimate 32 bit

Here's one other way, this might help if one wants to install Windows 7 on a netbook that does not have a DVD drive and/or can be used for dektop as wel.

What I'm talking about is creating a bootable USB stick/drive, preferably 4 GB in size, using the diskpart command. Works pretty well if I might say.

After creating the bootable USB drive/stick, copy all the contents of your Windows 7 OS disc in the USB, then find and delete the ei.cfg file.

Boom! you are now ready to boot from the USB drive/stick.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Jul 2011   #305
Microsoft MVP


You can use this fully automated tool to easily write the Win7 ISO to flash stick in minutes: Universal USB Installer – Easy as 1 2 3 | USB Pen Drive Linux

or Part 2 here: Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Aug 2011   #306

Windows 7x32 Home Premium & XP SP3 x86

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Brink View Post
Hello everyone,

Just to let you all know that I have confirmed that you can do either a clean install, custom install, or upgrade install with a retail Upgrade version of Windows 7 and activate it on a clean unallocated (blank) drive or partition without any other OS installed or with one installed. It does not matter.

For questions and more information on this, please see this tutorial:
Clean Install with a Upgrade Windows 7 Version

100% confirmed

warning   Warning

Remember that you need a valid qualifying previous version of Windows to use a Upgrade Windows 7 copy legally. Microsoft only made doing a clean install from a upgrade Windows 7 possible to make it more convenient so you do not have to reinstall both the old Windows version (ex: Vista) and upgrade to Windows 7 everytime you needed or wanted to reinstall.

If you do not have a valid qualifying previous version of Windows, then you are violating the terms of Microsoft's Windows 7 End User License Agreement and could get your product key number invalidated by Microsoft. Plus, it is considered illegal.

For more about this, please see: Microsoft SMB Community Blog : Regardless of what any hack says, a Windows 7 Upgrade is an Upgrade. What you need to know.
Are you telling me that I should not attempt to use an upgrade version of Windows 7 to install into a computer, that I purchased from an individual, that was delivered without disks for the resident operating system.

I acquired a gaming computer (nice hardware package) that has a defunct XP OS installed. I plan to install Windows 7 but am unsure of what to purchase. I would like to avoid some of the cost but that may be the wrong approach.

I am not even sure I can upgrade into a computer that will not load Windows.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Aug 2011   #307
Microsoft MVP


If the rig has a COA sticker with XP Product Key on it, then you most certainly qualify to use Win7 Upgrade version on it - whether or not XP is installed on the HD.

Just boot the WIn7 DVD, if any OS is seen by the installer it will allow Upgrade key to be inserted upfront during install. If not wait until after install to do the quick registry workaround shown in tutorial to activate Upgrade version when installing to a clean or wiped HD.

Here are tips to get a perfect clean reinstall of Win7 - use the ones which apply: Reinstalling Windows 7
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Aug 2011   #308

Windows 7x32 Home Premium & XP SP3 x86

I read all of what has been written here with a great deal of interest. I became convinced that I could no this. WRONG!

I started by doing a Microsoft Update, I then made sure the antivirus was not running and I was connected to the internet. I installed the Upgrade Disk and things started to happen but very soon came to a halt (or so it seemed). All I had was four colored dots on the screen that occasionally changed positions.

I did this two or three times. BTW I cannot get back to XP. It seems that the HD has maybe been reformatted.

I gave up and went to the store to purchase a full version of Windows 7 Home Edition just knowing that a full install would work. It seemed to be pretty much the same.

I gave up and reinstalled XP, authenticated, registered, updated and had it back to "fully operation" less a few applications like printer. Now it is time to load windows 7 again.

But only after I did Windows 7 Upgrade Advisory which pointed out a couple things that will have to be resolved later.

With my wife's insistence, I was going to "be patient" this time. Let it work - she says.

Okay, I am doing that. I am now about two hours+ into the installation. It has very slowly progressed into the setup. It is now at the Install Windows screen and reports that it is "Copying Windows Files (0%)" where it has been for at least thirty minutes.

I don't care how patient I try to be - This is not going to work.

I symptom that I noticed while getting to this point: Periodically the mouse pointer would freeze (no control). Later I would look and the pointer had moved but again was frozen. It seemed that at key locations I would be given control, I'd make selections and again it would be frozen.

Here I sit. Being patient and getting no where.

I am convinced - it will work but only after I discover what I am doing wrong.

Am I going to have to reinstall XP in order to take another run at this?

I know you are all either laughing at this (me) or you have quit reading all together. I am just hoping that some knowledable person will have sympathy and offer assistance.

I finally ran out of patience and forced a reboot. To my surprise, I have not stomped on XP. It came up with everything in tact.

Its time to reread all the instructions and wait for guidance.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Aug 2011   #309
Microsoft MVP


You need to boot the Win7 DVD to follow the steps given here: Clean Install with a Upgrade Windows 7 Version

Follow these steps to enter BIOS setup to set DVD drive to boot first, before HD, then save settings, reboot and wait for prompt to "Press any key to boot DVD:" How to Boot your Computer from a Bootable CD or DVD

If this fails, tap the one-time Asus F8 BIOS Boot Menu key to boot the DVD drive manually at computer startup.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Aug 2011   #310

Windows 7x32 Home Premium & XP SP3 x86

Since I am using a MOBO with an AMD Athlon 64 Fx-62 dual core processor, and because that is what shows on the Systems Properties page - I have been attempting to use the 64 bit Windows 7 disc.

When I do this I get the error message:

This installation disc isn't compatible with your version of Windows. To upgrade you need the correct installation disk. For more information, check your computers system information. To install a new copy of Windows, restart (boot) your computer using the installation disc and select Custom.

Should I be using the 32 bit version?

In anticipation: Instructions that I have read here indicate that the system will reboot multiple times during the set up. Do I leave the installation CD in the CDROM throughout the set up? Doesn't this result in starting over?
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Doing a Clean Install with a Upgrade Windows 7 Version

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