Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I had Windows XP Professional installed in a VMWare virtual machine on my Mac. I bought Windows 7 Professional to replace it, and installed it on a fresh virtual machine, then deleted the old XP VM once the new Windows 7 VM was working alright.

Unfortunately, I didn’t make sure to activate the new VM first. I thought I’d bought the full version, but it looks like I’ve bought an upgrade version, because when Windows 7 prompted me to activate today, it said it couldn’t, because I’d bought an upgrade version and done a clean install with it.

As far as I can tell from Microsoft’s help, I can’t activate my fresh Windows 7 install. To make it activate properly, I need to reinstall Windows XP, then reinstall my Windows 7 upgrade on top of that.

Are they f—ing kidding? I’ve spent a fair bit of time setting up my new Windows 7 VM. Now I have to trash all that and start again? I’ve still got my copy of Windows XP, and the license key for it. Can’t I just enter that somewhere and have the damn thing work?

share|improve this question
Windows XP /forces/ a clean install - you CAN'T do an inplace upgrade to 7. The worst case situation is you call Microsoft and they'll probably feed you an activation code. Hyppy's link goes into pretty good detail about this. – Shinrai Mar 15 '11 at 14:19
@Shinrai: Yeah — unfortunately, Microsoft’s operative politely asked if he could tell me something about upgrade software, and then told me that upgrade software needs the original software, and couldn’t possibly work without it. For some reason I decided not to argue the point with him, and went with the registry hack instead. How Microsoft thinks making it this complicated is a good idea is beyond ,e. – Paul D. Waite Mar 15 '11 at 16:13
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Yes, it's possible, but it can get messy.

Here's a fairly in-depth guide:

share|improve this answer
+1, thanks for that link! – DCookie Mar 15 '11 at 15:07
Ah, sure, that’s good stuff (although Thurrott really needs an editor to stop his saying “secrets” every fourth paragraph). Unfortunately, the re-install option didn’t work for me (my copy of Vista is newer than the one on my disc, so it won’t do start the upgrade — that’ll teach me to apply updates immediately), and his advice to phone Microsoft was bollocks for me, as a dead-voiced support operative told me it was impossible for the upgrade version to work without XP. The registry hack worked a treat though. Phew! I was not looking forward to re-downloading and reinstalling Photoshop. – Paul D. Waite Mar 15 '11 at 16:11

It looks like there is a solution! Laplink have come up with a program that does this all for you without the need to reinstall software. I am just about to buy it now (it's only $29) so don't know if it works or not, but the reviews on youtube seem to suggest it does what it says on the box :) fingers crossed :)

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .