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My mother is a teacher, so when I upgraded them from XP to Vista I purchased an academic upgrade license for her.

The problem with the upgrade for Vista that I found was that you can't install it "clean" unless you install vista first, then do an upgrade and delete as you go.

Does anyone know if this is going to be the same for Windows 7, for example, If I purchase an upgrade and I want do a clean install on say, my media center in the future do I need to install vista first every time?

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2 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

TLDR: You can spoof the upgrade installer by not filling in a key yet, which will procede to a clean install (as far as I understand).

Here's a description I found at maximum PC:

How Does An Upgrade Edition “Clean Install” Differ From Retail Copies of Windows 7?

The full upgrade process still hasn’t been finalized, but here is what we do know. Windows XP upgrade editions were pretty painless. The installer would prompt you to insert a copy of a previous OS for disk verification, and that was pretty much it. Assuming you passed this stage, XP would then prompt you to drop the original install disk back in the tray, and it would push ahead with a clean install.

This approach changed with Windows Vista, and not necessarily for the better. If you followed the official Microsoft approach, you were stuck installing Windows XP each time you wanted to format your PC. Once it verified that a qualifying OS was installed, only then could then upgrade to Vista. This hokey double install process was a terrible waste of time, and seemed like a pointless exercise.

A known workaround now exists that will allow you to bypass this step, and it’s easier than you might think. Simply insert your upgrade DVD, boot into the installer, and when prompted to enter your product key, simply refuse to do so. After you click through all the warnings and pick the version you purchased, it would push ahead with the install. Your product key could then be easily entered later on once you were booted into the OS, and you could then activate using the normal process.

It is still unclear which of the two verification methods Microsoft will choose for Windows 7, but they haven’t given us indication that the newer Vista style approach would be changing. If that’s true, you might want to keep the workaround mentioned in the previous question in mind as it will most likely work in Windows 7 as well. It’s also worth noting that in Vista, the clean install work around also saved your Product Key, allowing thousands of users who were unhappy with Vista to downgrade back to XP.

Edit: According to Anandtech.com the DVD downloaded from MSDN is version specific, because it contains a file that says:

[EditionID]
Ultimate
[Channel]
Retail
[VL]
0

Creating a new bootable disk without this file or installing from a USB stick would enable you to have a one universal Windows 7 installer.

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There is usually a few files that it looks for to determine that the old OS is installed. I don't know what it will be for Windows 7, but chances are you will be able to "fake it" into thinking you have Vista installed.

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