Microsoft Windows 7 Upgrade from XP Without Buying the Full Version

Windows 7Caveat: before you follow any advice in this article make sure you first run Windows Upgrade Advisor to determine if your PC can run Windows 7 and always backup your data whenever installing or upgrading to anything.

Microsoft says you can upgrade to Windows 7 from Windows XP and Vista; however what they mean by upgrade is very confusing. If you think upgrade means taking an Microsoft Windows 7 Upgrade and laying it on top of an existing XP system – it cannot be done. That only applies to Vista; in the case of XP what Microsoft means by upgrade is buying a full version of Windows 7 and doing a clean install which is not really an upgrade but a new install.

I got my copy of Windows 7 Ultimate Upgrade from Amazon for $219.99 instead of the full version because I believed what they wrote:

Not sure if you need the upgrade version or the full version? You can purchase the Upgrade version of Windows 7 if you’re currently running Windows Vista or Windows XP on your PC. If you’re not running Windows XP or Windows Vista on your PC, you’ll need to purchase the Full version of Windows 7.

But when I tried to “upgrade” my Windows XP version to Windows 7
A Microsoft Customer Service rep informed me that I could only “upgrade” from XP by buying the “full” version.

Instead of returning the upgrade disc and buying the full version disc, I did the following:

  1. I backed up my data onto a removable hard drive although Microsoft does supply a program called Easy Transfer that you must install before running Windows 7 to help migrate your files.
  2. I booted from the Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate Upgrade disc.
  3. I formatted my hard drive.
  4. I followed the install prompts.
  5. When asked for the product key, I pressed NEXT without entering the key.
  6. Windows finished installing.
  7. I removed the disc from my DVD tray and rebooted.
  8. Once Windows 7 came back up, I re-inserted the disc and hit the UPGRADE option (not the CUSTOM option).
  9. Windows will start the install – ask for the key – this time put it in. And it will reboot a number of times (don’t let it bother you) until it finishes the install
  10. You’re done.

Remarkably, nowhere in the process did it ask me for my original XP product key. Usually if I am upgrading software I am asked for the underlying base product key. This means: even if you never purchased XP or Vista at all, instead of laying out $100 more for the full install, simply buy the upgrade version and follow this procedure. Until Microsoft fixes this great feature.

Related articles: Tom’s Hardware – Windows XP Can Upgrade to Windows 7, Sorta, Excerpt: Microsoft
has said that it will offer upgrade options for users to move from Windows XP to Windows 7, but to be clear, those are only for purchasing software licenses. There will be no software upgrade path.

Tech Mirage – Microsoft Plans to Offer Windows 7 on USB Flash Drives, Excerpt: Looking at the heavy increase in the netbook sales, Microsoft has admitted to CNET, that they will offer the brand new OS on USB Flash drives.

Photo credit: The Boy Genius Report

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3 Comments on “Microsoft Windows 7 Upgrade from XP Without Buying the Full Version”

  1. common sense Says:

    Or use a friends school email address and get it for 29.99. You paid 219.99 and wasted hours figuring and writing this article??? ouch

    • ezcall Says:

      I suppose if you have stupid friends in school, then sure ask them. But if they are smart they can sell it for $100.00 why should they give it to anyone else for free?

      In addition, I got the Ultimate edition which the student discount doesn’t cover.

      Wow, wrong on two counts. Ouch.


  2. IS anyone surprised that Microsoft would lie and attempt to cheat customers? Their software is outrageously overpriced to start with. $219 for an upgrade version of Win 7? Apple’s price for a FULL version of Snow Leopard (OSX 10.6) is $29!

    What makes things even worse if that the price comparisons between other Windows software (not just that by MS) is similar. Take video editors. Sony Vegas is around $700 depending on the source, marketing discounts, etc. Final Cut Express, equivalent in capability, but easier to learn and use, is $200 and $159 on sale.

    Maybe that’s why Macs cost more. They’re worth it and initial cost is just the start.


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