|Microsoft Windows 7 Upgrade and Installation|
|Articles - Featured Guides|
|Written by Nate Swetland - Edited by Olin Coles|
|Tuesday, 10 November 2009|
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Custom Upgrade: Previous OS Bypass
This section is for people that wish to do a bit of custom installation methods. I have found a way to do a clean install using an upgrade key. This method does not require an OS to already be installed on your machine. This method may or may not violate Microsoft's EULA, depending on the copyright laws where you live or how you manage your previous operating system's keys that you are supposedly upgrading. Use this guide at your own risk, as Benchmark Reviews, benchmarkreviews.com, myself, nor anyone affiliated with the aforementioned are responsible for your actions.
You may ask "Why would I want to do this?" There are many reasons as to why you would want to do a "clean upgrade". The main reason I sought out this method was because you cannot upgrade the Windows 7 preview/beta copies to a valid purchased license key. Windows 7 RC was considered Windows 7 Ultimate Retail, and that is as high as it gets, so you cannot upgrade from that. Many people have been using Windows 7 beta and RC copies, so they will run into this situation. I was looking for a way to get out of having to reinstall Win2k, XP, or Vista just to then turn around and upgrade to Windows 7. Another reason why this method might be helpful is if you are the owner of an OEM system that you bought from a retailer such as Best Buy, Fry's, Wal-Mart, etc. Many times, those computers come with no Windows disk, and many companies such as HP don't provide you with a restore disk. Often you must either make one yourself, or purchase one through them. If you are one of those users, then you may not have an option to reinstall your OS, especially if you have upgraded to Windows 7 preview copies. The majority of the reason I tried it was to save time and hassle, and that is the real point of all of this, not for piracy or license violations.
It is important to note a few things for this installation method. This method requires the use of either a bootable CD/DVD disk, or a bootable USB disk with the Windows 7 installation media. If you are one of the people that has the .exe file that was downloaded from a digital download provider, then you will need to follow some simple steps to convert that installation package to an .ISO file that you can use. There is a nice how-to on downloadsquad.com that tells you how to do this conversion. Follow the instructions carefully, because I had a bit of trouble at first, and people report mixed results. From there, you should have a .ISO file that you can either burn straight to a DVD and boot from it, or if you want to follow another link at the same website on how to convert that .ISO to a bootable USB drive. Finally, if you have not even downloaded the .EXE file and even attempted to do the update in their cumbersome method, there is now an alternative download method. Lifehacker.com has provided links to sites and sources for tools from Digital River and Microsoft to get the direct .ISO file and a tool to convert that to a bootable USB disk for the many consumers that got their versions through the Student Discount pricing program.
During the screen where you decide whether you want to do an upgrade or a custom install, you will pick custom.
When you get to the installation destination screen, decide which hard disk you would like to install it to. After deciding on which drive you want to use, if you click on advanced, you will see options to format, delete, add, etc. partitions.
I deleted all the partitions, formatted, and then clicked New. Windows will then create whatever partitions it needs, and start the copy/extraction process.
After it is done with the extraction and all that, it will prompt you for your username, password, etc. It will also ask you for your Windows product key. This step is important. Microsoft has added a feature back in Vista where you can leave this blank and use Windows for 30 days as a trial (or longer if you reset the time limit). Normally, you would enter your key, it would verify that you have an upgrade key, verify that you have something to upgrade from, and move along. Because you are upgrading from nothing, leave it blank, and uncheck Automatically activate. Click Next.
You should then be welcomed with a fully functional Windows 7 desktop! This is not the end, however. You can freely use this for 30 days unactivated, but it will then start limiting your use, and finally lock you out completely.