[TUT] Clean Install Vista using an Upgrade key
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Author:  darthtk118 [ Sat Feb 16, 2008 12:36 am ]
Post subject:  [TUT] Clean Install Vista using an Upgrade key

Hey guys. Playing around one day, I found a trick on doing a clean install of Windows Vista with just an Upgrade product key. This is NOT a hack, crack, or warez - it's something that Microsoft itself has built into the installation. You'll need a valid product key to activate when the process is near done, but here's how you do it:

1. Boot up your PC using your Windows Vista DVD or other media. Click 'install now', and it will begin setup.

2. At the product key screen, do not enter your key. Uncheck the box that says "activate automatically when going online". Click next, and it will ask you if you you want to enter your key. Click "no".

3. At the next screen, you will see a list of editions of Vista. Chose the version you really own. Click next and verify it's the right version. Accept the license agreement to continue setup, and you'll come to the installation type. "Upgrade" won't be available because you're not in Windows. Choose "Custom" to do a clean install. Next, you can chose some drive options, such as formatting or partitioning.

4. Click next, and Vista will install.

5. After the installation and you set up your computer, log on like normally.

What you've installed is pretty much just temporary; you've installed a 30-day trial of Vista. If you try to activate now, it won't work, because it doesn't have a key entered from the install, and you did a clean install and only have an upgrade key.

6. Go to Computer and double click your Vista disc to begin Windows setup again. Once you get to the product key screen, enter your key. It's up to you if you want check the box to automatically activate Windows online. Click next.

7. Accept the EULA, and on the next screen asking you for the installation type, select upgrade. Windows will install again, but since it's an upgrade, it will keep most of your settings from the first installation.

Once setup finishes, you have 30 days to activate. This time, activation will work, because you entered a legit key.

See what you just did? You did a clean install of the version you bought and upgraded it to that same version (not really making an upgrade)

Is this legal? Most likely, and in my opinion, yes, because Vista supports upgrades from versions of 2000, XP, and the right versions of itself. This can be really useful if you want to upgrade to Vista on your computer from an upgradeable version (like XP), but start fresh and not deal with program/driver compatibilities. If you don't own an upgradeable version of Windows and use this to save some money, you're probably violating the EULA, which is illegal and thus breaking the law.

Hope this helps some of you. It's come in handy for me time to time. If you have any questions, just ask :D

Author:  mrpijey [ Sat Feb 16, 2008 12:11 pm ]
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I never tried this (don't have an upgrade key, only an OEM one), but wouldn't it work by simply entering the upgrade key at the installation? Or by adding it after install when activating? Shouldn't the installer detect the key being a legit upgrade one and still install? I mean, it's still legit...

The reason I ask is because I am wondering if there really is an upgrade key? Isn't it just a regular key like all of them? When you purchase an upgrade you simply get a key that works, and the upgrade option in the installer is just that, an upgrade feature that keeps your old stuff?

Author:  Vista Ultimate R2 [ Sat Feb 16, 2008 1:19 pm ]
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All copies of Windows Vista (upgrade and full) give you the option of installing a new copy or upgrading an existing installation to Vista and keeping the old settings. However, Upgrade copies only allow installation to be begun from within Windows, as opposed to booting from the disc, as opposed to older versions of Windows where the upgrade versions just looked for an existing installation or if there wasn't one they asked you for the disc to check it. The upgrade disc for Vista is therefore the same as the full disc, but the key is from a different set and will only allow installation in this way.

You don't actually have to do an "upgrade" installation, you can still install a brand new copy (much better than a messy upgrade installation), you just have to have a previous version installed and run setup.exe from there to begin with (unless you use this well-known workaround) as for some reason they decided they wouldn't let you just put in the old version's disc for checking like before.

The upgrade key won't be deemed legit if you install without a key and then put it in as you're not "upgrading" from an older version at that point. The only point at which such a key is legit is when starting the installation from a version allowed by the upgrade licence (2000, XP or Vista), so it is legit if you install without a key and then start the installation again from within that running installation, and put in the upgrade key, as it thinks Vista to Vista is a valid upgrade path. You could do a clean installation the second time round I think, as the upgrade key only demands an upgrade from an older version as opposed to an upgrade type installation.

Author:  dootimestwo [ Fri Oct 31, 2008 9:41 pm ]
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nice find!

Author:  nfaze [ Mon Nov 10, 2008 8:13 pm ]
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Wow, this will save me alot of time the next time I format! Thank you for the great find!

Author:  liliwinnt6 [ Mon Nov 30, 2009 6:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: [TUT] Clean Install Vista using an Upgrade key

Upgrade keys are cheaper than those retail ones?

Author:  4tified [ Mon Nov 30, 2009 6:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: [TUT] Clean Install Vista using an Upgrade key

You can actually perform the same workaround shown at Paul Thurott's site with Windows 7. Simple registry tweak, rearm Windows, restart, activate with upgrade key, and you're done. ... _media.asp

I tried this with Windows Vista and it works perfect. Only takes 2 minutes after setup. That will at least an hour vs "upgrading".

Author:  spunker88 [ Tue Dec 01, 2009 2:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: [TUT] Clean Install Vista using an Upgrade key

When i upgraded my laptop to windows 7 using the Digital River key, I simply formatted my HD with the DVD and the key worked fine. I have been told that with windows 7 it checks the HD before you format it to see if there was an old copy of windows on there, which there was. Not sure if this is true or not, or maybe because i went from 32bit to 64bit it let me,

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