Prior to the Windows 7 release on October 22nd, the big question was “How will the upgrade process work?”  For those of you that don’t know, Microsoft releases new versions of Windows in two available options: full version and upgrade.  The upgrade media is cheaper as they assume you have purchased a copy of Windows before, hence you get a discount on the upgrade!

How do they prove that you bought Windows before you ask?  In the past (Windows 2000 and earlier) you had the option to insert the previous Windows version CD to verify you owned a copy…this did not work out too well for Microsoft as people could pass around copies of the CD.  Also, Microsoft started to encourage PC vendors (like Dell, HP, etc) from including Windows CDs with new computers to cut down on piracy…Windows would come preinstalled on your computer with a recovery partition only.  This meant that you did nott have a previous Windows CD to insert!

So, Microsoft put in a new process to verify you owned a copy of Windows previously – when installing the Windows upgrade, you had to have the previous version of Windows installed on your hard drive already!  This proves quite the pain in the neck if you want to reinstall Windows on a brand new larger hard drive.  And why should you not be able to without instsalling all the previous versions of Windows you purchased???   You purchased the software, you own it!

Unfortunately, Microsoft has still continued this practice with Windows 7, but there is a registry workaround.  (NOTE: not for those who are not computer savvy – messing with the Windows registry can cause damage to your computer). 

Paul Thurrott of has the workaround documented and I will not repeat his exact article here….suffice to say that the process consists of

  • Installing Windows 7 using the upgrade CD
  • Skipping the product key step during initial setup
  • Finishing the Windows install
  • Modifying a registry key
  • Activating Windows using your product key

The process is documented on Paul’s site. for those that need help, contact us at P3C Technologies.