HOWTO: Windows 7 – Clean Install using Upgrade Media

I recently had the opportunity to do a Windows 7 install on my brothers new computer. Since my brother already owned Win XP, he decided that an upgrade version of Windows 7 was all that was needed. Well here is where Microsoft decided to make things difficult. Apparently Windows 7 requires some unusual work-arounds to do this but thankfully Paul Thurrott has documented this on his SuperSite for Windows.

The basic premise is that there are three methods for using a Windows 7 upgrade disk to perform a clean install of Windows. It doesn’t make sense to first install the previous version since this would be a total waste of time and effort. So let’s proceed with the work around methods.

Method 1 – Boot using the Windows 7 upgrade disk. Choose new install, what ever you do don’t activate or enter your product key yet. Complete the full installation and run Windows updates until there are no more critical high priority updates and reboot as required. After the update steps then enter activate in Windows Start Search. Enter your product key. If it works you are done, congratulations. If this does work, you can call Microsoft or continue on to Method 2. I recommend method 2.

Method 2 – This involves doing a simple registry tweak and running a simple command at the cmd prompt. If you are uncomfortable doing this yourself ask your computer guy/gal to help out. This may be a family member or friend. If you don’t have someone to help, then try it yourself and learn how.

– Open regedit.exe with Start Menu Search. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Setup/OOBE/
Modify MediaBootInstall from “1” to “0“.  Then close regedit.

– Open a cmd window as administrator, right click the cmd.exe and choose “run as administrator”.  Then in the cmd window type slmgr /rearm and press enter, then wait for the confirmation window.

After doing the registry tweak and cmd steps go ahead and reboot. Upon restart of Windows, enter activate in Windows Start Search and enter your product key. This method worked for me and have heard that it should work on most every machine you try this with. At this point you are finished, congratulations. However if it doesn’t work or you are uncomfortable with this method continue on to method 3.

Method 3 – Double install method. After performing a clean new install, reinsert the Windows 7 upgrade media and rerun the startup process again. Choose upgrade, not new or custom. This part may take longer than the previous install and that is normal. When complete enter activate in Windows Start Search. Enteryour product key and this should activate. You are finished.

Thanks and credit goes out to Paul Thurrott and his SuperSite for Windows for the research and notes in creating this article.  Please consult his guide for further details and other Windows 7 details.


About Shawn Brezny
Documenting the streets || Analog Film Photographer

2 Responses to HOWTO: Windows 7 – Clean Install using Upgrade Media

  1. Darryl Reese says:

    If I had a dollar for every time I came to! Amazing writing!

  2. Breztech says:

    Thanks for the feedback, glad I can help out.

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