Windows 7 Forums
Welcome to Windows 7 Forums. Our forum is dedicated to helping you find support and solutions for any problems regarding your Windows 7 PC be it Dell, HP, Acer, Asus or a custom build. We also provide an extensive Windows 7 tutorial section that covers a wide range of tips and tricks.

Windows 7: Windows 7 Upgrade Paths - FAQ

11 Dec 2009   #1

Windows 7 x64 finally!
Windows 7 Upgrade Paths - FAQ

There are still doubts about what the possible and legal upgrade paths are for Windows 7.

Below I tried to compile some information in a way which I hope will be helpful.

Thanks to my friend Kari for his valuable contribution
Any other additions or comments are much welcome

1) Upgrade: to move from Windows XP or Windows Vista to Windows 7
2) Custom or Clean Install: wipes the previous installation and install Windows 7 anew. Does not preserve user files
3) In-Place Upgrade: upgrades from specific versions of Vista to specific versions of Windows 7, preserving user files and programs.
4) Upgrade version: Windows 7 license for those who own a valid license of XP or Vista
5) Full retail version: Windows 7 license to install on any PC, independent of previous installations or ownership. Can be reinstalled on other computers (when activated the previous installation is no longer valid)
6) Full OEM version :Windows 7 license to install on one PC, independent of previous installations. Can only be re-installed on same computer and hardware setup

Upgrade paths
The chart below shows in what situations one can perform an in-place upgrade (e.g. from Vista Business to Windows 7 Professional) without the need to migrate files or programs, and the situations when one needs to do a Custom (Clean) Install and replace the data in the target disc. This is the case for all Windows XP owners or Windows Vista Starter. In this case you will need to migrate your personal files and reinstall your programs in a separate process. I recommend to use Windows Easy Transfer for this, this program will organize your files per user making the migration easier.

Windows 7 Upgrade Paths - FAQ-win7-upgrade-paths.jpg

Source: Windows 7 Upgrade Considerations

References and additional Info:
Clean Install Windows 7

Custom Install Windows 7

Upgrade Install with Windows 7

A simple guide to a successful in-place upgrade

Q.: I have a Home Premium version of Vista and want to migrate to the Professional version of Windows 7. Do I have to buy a full version?
A.: No. If you own a valid Vista license you are eligible to using an Upgrade Version of Windows 7. In this scenario you will need to do a Custom (Clean) install

Q.: I have Windows Vista Business but I don’t need all those features. I intend to migrate to Windows 7 Home Premium. I don’t want to buy the expensive Full Version to perform a version downgrade. Do I have to?
A.: No. If you own a valid Vista license you are eligible to using an Upgrade Version of Windows 7, independent of what versions you are coming from or migrating to. In this scenario you will need to perform a Custom (Clean) install

Q.: I built a computer and want to install Windows 7. I read that you can use an Upgrade disc to install on a blank hard drive. Am I allowed to do that?
A.: If you own a previous version of Vista or XP, even if it is installed in that machine or not, you are entitled to use the Upgrade version. You will need to stop using that license after installing Windows 7
If you do not own a previous license, it is technically possible to install Windows 7 in a blank drive from the Upgrade disc, but is it not legal, it is a violation of Windows 7 EULA.
Reference: Clean Install with a Upgrade Windows 7 Version

Q.: I have Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bits and want to migrate to Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bits. Do I need to do a Clean install or can I perform an in-place upgrade?
A.: A Clean Install is required when migrating from 32 to 64 bits or vice-versa, independent of the initial and target versions,.

Q.: Is there a way to perform an In-Place upgrade for situations where the upgrade path does not allow it? For example, from Windows Vista Home Premium to Windows 7 Professional
A.: Yes, you can do that by changing installation files on the Windows 7 package. Only recommended for experienced users and you will be on your own, Microsoft does not support this (although it is not illegal)

Q.: The Windows XP I am running was an upgrade from Windows 2000. Am I allowed to upgrade to Windows 7?
A.: Yes. Your upgraded XP is a valid Windows License.

Q.: I am running the RC, can I upgrade that to the commercial version with an upgrade disc?
A.: Technically yes, the RC will be recognized as a previous OS and the install process will proceed. On the other hand, the RC is a free evaluation version and does not qualify as a valid license for upgrade. You need to have a valid license not to violate the EULA, even if not installed (e.g. the valid Vista or XP you had before installing the RC). More information can be found on this tutorial: Clean Install with a Upgrade Windows 7 Version

Q.: I recently bought a computer that came with Vista installed. Will I get a free upgrade to Windows 7?
A.: Please contact the manufacturer. It depends on what they were offering when you bought the computer. Here is the list of participating manufacturers, according to Microsoft: Windows: Windows 7 Upgrade Option

Q.: I bought a retail version of Vista on or after June 26, 2009, I heard I can upgrade it for free, is that correct?
A.: If you acquire a qualifying Windows Vista retail packaged product between June 26, 2009 and January 31, 2010 you are eligible to receive the corresponding Microsoft Windows 7 product upgrade for the cost of shipping and handling ($9.99). Please allow 6-8 weeks (pending inventory availability). Here is how to order it:

Q.: I installed and activated the 32-bit version of Windows 7 which came in the retail box. I don’t want to use that, I want the 64-bit version. Can I remove that and install the 64-bit version and legally activate it?
A.: The key allows you to install one instance of either x86 or x64. Since you wiped the x86 you will have one other instance (tks to Garysgold for the info)

Additional References:
Please make sure to read these excellent tutorials regarding installation and setup:

This blog gives a good pictorial explanation of the allowed upgrade paths:
Microsoft SMB Community Blog : Regardless of what any hack says, a Windows 7 Upgrade is an Upgrade. What you need to know.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Dec 2009   #2


My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Dec 2009   #3

Windows 7 x64 finally!

Tks buddy!
My System SpecsSystem Spec

11 Dec 2009   #4


Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by wallyinnc View Post
Q.: I am running the RC, can I upgrade that to the commercial version with an upgrade disc?
A.: No. The RC is a free evaluation version and does not qualify as a valid license for upgrade.
Thanks, Wally. This is the first time I have seen these words in print.

There was some confusion over MS allowing millions of beta testers to Upgrade via clean install from the RC.

This was merely a convenience and not an exception to the EULA that a qualifying XP/Vista license must be on hand to use an Upgrade version.

From Brink's tutorial which went up on Release day:

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:

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.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Dec 2009   #5

Windows 7 x64 finally!

Tks Greg. I first saw on the MSDN blog post I reference at the bottom, Eric Ligman says:

(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.)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Dec 2009   #6
top secret

Windows 7 Home Premium 32bit


This can be helpful.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Dec 2009   #7

Windows 7 Professional 64

Thank you!!!
The problem with Windows 7 upgrades is that it is VERY confusing. For example, the chart shows how you can use the Upgrade Option (instead of the Custom install) to Windows 7 Professional ONLY if you have Vista Business. This made me think that in order to qualify for the actual license, I have to have that specific version of OS, which is not the case. ( I thought I was stuck with Home Premium!)

This article, beside a ton more has immensely helped me. Thank you again to the admins and the contributors.

Happy holidays.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Dec 2009   #8

Win 7 x64 Ultimate


First time here, and I apologize in advance if the following question has been asked before...

In my case, I have a licensed OEM copy of VISTA HOME PREMIUM 64-bit. I "upgraded" to the WIN 7 Ultimate evaluation copy (build 7100) when it was available. Of course, this ends in March 2010. The way I understand it, there is a way to upgrade this version to WIN 7 ULTIMATE...but say I don't want ULTIMATE - and just want WIN 7 HOME PREMIUM, the same version I had with VISTA. How do I go about doing this? Would I have to uninstall the WIN 7 eval copy to go back to VISTA HOME PREMIUM 64-bit to THEN upgrade to WIN 7 HOME PREMIUM 64-bit?


My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Dec 2009   #9


It is best to clean install since RC was beta buggy and had a ton of monitoring software. MS actually warned against doing in-place Upgrade.

That said, quite a few have done it successfully so perhaps it is worth a try for you, since you can always clean install from boot with formatting if the in-place performance isn't where you want it.

The popular workaround for such an in-place "downgrade" is here.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Dec 2009   #10

Win 7 x64 Ultimate

Thanks for the information, Greg - sure seems like the in-place downgrade will work for me. Of course, everything will be backed up prior to doing this.

Last question - in doing this in-place downgrade, would I be able to use the WIN 7 Home premium UPGRADE disk(s) - or for this, would I need the FULL version?


My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Windows 7 Upgrade Paths - FAQ

Thread Tools

Similar help and support threads
Thread Forum
Windows 7 using "wrong" desktop and folder paths after update.
Windows 7 auto update in the middle of the night messed everything up. My desktop is empty, my documents and other folders are also empty. However, if I navigate through MyComputer, I can still see the files where they should be. Windows is presenting me with a new and empty directory instead....
General Discussion
Using PATHS in the command line in Windows 7
Hi there, I have been looking for a simple way to begin to understand the command line in windows. I'm trying to import python code from a folder, and at the moment I can only get my code to run if I save my folder in the default c:\Users\Jamie\<full path>. My question is in two parts 1. How can...
General Discussion
Dos paths and unix paths conversion
I guess this may be a tiny bit off the subject here, but I am attempting this in windows 7. I have a program file manager tool called 'Directory Opus' that is capable of calling windows external programs and passing them the current directory the file manager is sitting on. So far so good. ...
General Discussion
Windows Explorer Auto Suggest - Delete Typed Paths
How to Delete Typed Paths in Windows Explorer Auto Suggest Drop Down List This will show you how to delete items included in the auto suggest drop down list from when you had typed valid paths previously in the Windows Explorer (Vista and Windows 7) or File Explorer (Windows 8) address bar and...
Microsoft Documents "Windows 7 Upgrade Paths"
Win7 Upgrade paths
From this download link: Unsupported Upgrade Scenarios Upgrades to Windows 7 from the following operating systems are not supported: Windows 95, Windows...
General Discussion

Our Sites

Site Links

About Us

Find Us

Windows 7 Forums is an independent web site and has not been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved by Microsoft Corporation. "Windows 7" and related materials are trademarks of Microsoft Corp.

Designer Media Ltd

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 16:18.
Twitter Facebook Google+ Seven Forums iOS App Seven Forums Android App