Validating windows vista ultimate

For purposes of this discussion, a clean install--or what Microsoft calls a custom install--is when you boot your PC with Windows 7 Setup media (typically a Setup DVD, but with this version it could also be a specially created, bootable USB memory device containing the Setup bits) with the intention of installing just Windows 7 on the PC.

There could be a previous version of Windows (XP or Vista) installed on the PC already.

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Upgrade versions of Windows 7 are far more common than Full versions, both because they are less expensive and because Microsoft offered (and in some cases is still offering) exceptionally cheap pricing on Upgrade media.

Note: One such special offer, the Windows 7 Family Pack, consists of 32-bit and 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade media Setup discs and a single product key which can be used to activate three copies of the OS on three different PCs.

The Family Pack costs $150, or just $30 more than a single copy of Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade. But rememeber what you're getting there: The Family Pack comes with Upgrade, not Full, product keys. While anyone with a valid, licensed copy of Windows XP or Vista qualifies for any Upgrade version of Windows 7--and by the way, that's pretty much every single PC user on earth--only Vista users can do an in-place upgrade, which is the install type for which Upgrade media is optimized.

It was the final unanswered question about Windows 7.

But now, thanks to numerous reader reports, my own hands-on experience, and a briefing with the team at Microsoft responsible for this technology, I think we have some answers.

Sadly, Microsoft is still making it difficult to clean install Windows 7 with Upgrade media, as it did with Windows Vista. While you can't simply use Upgrade media to do a clean install of Windows 7 on a new or previously formatted PC, the workarounds this time are easier than ever.

And that's what this article is all about: Revealing the secrets to clean-installing Windows 7 with Upgrade media. In older versions of Windows, Microsoft would actually prompt you to insert an install floppy or CD from a previous Windows version, to prove that you qualified for the upgrade version.

But beginning with Windows XP, PC makers were able to dramatically change the Windows install disc, so much so that, in some cases, those discs weren't even identifiable as valid install media to Windows Setup. In Windows Vista, Microsoft supported in-place upgrades from Windows XP, but if you wanted to use an Upgrade version of the Windows Vista Setup disc to do a clean install, you had to perform a weird double install trick.

(I documented this process in How to Clean Install Windows Vista with Upgrade Media.) When it comes to performing a clean install of Windows 7 using Upgrade media, there's no simple answer.

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