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My parents got a new computer. I'm going to prep their old one for sale.

So, first step of course is to reformat the hard drive and reinstall the OS. But, there's a potential problem: They installed Windows (XP) from an upgrade disc.

So, here's the question: Once I've erased the computer's hard drive, can I install Windows from that upgrade disc, or would I need to buy a new copy of Windows?

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You need to just have access to an older version of Windows that's allowed to upgrade directly to XP. Insert the XP CD, follow the instructions, but when you select the partition and delete the C:, it will say it doesn't detect an eligible copy of Windows, and ask for the CD to be inserted. After inserting the CD and they detect it, it will let you install normally

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So, as I'm installing XP onto a blank HDD it will give me an opportunity to take out the XP disc an put in the older version's disc? How's that work? Wouldn't I need to first install the older version and then install XP over it? –  Nathan G. Jul 9 '11 at 18:33
    
Thath's how they WANT you to do it, but you don't have to. XP will just ask for the old disk to "verify" you have a legit copy, then let you do the clean install. Windows Vista and 7 upgrades can upgrade themselves, not requiring any other disks –  Canadian Luke Jul 9 '11 at 18:39
    
Sounds great. Thanks for the info! –  Nathan G. Jul 9 '11 at 18:43
    
Early on in the install, before it has really done anything concrete, it will check the blank HDD for a previous version of Windows, which it obviously will not find. At that point, it will allow you to put a disk in to verify. It does not install any previous version, but just reads the disk figuring if you have it, you can upgrade. You can upgrade from Windows 95/98/ME, Windows NT 3.51, NT4, and Windows 2000 (and others: marksxp.mvps.org/WindowsXP/upgrade.php) So you need a disk from one of them at least for the install. –  KCotreau Jul 9 '11 at 18:44
    
P.S. Make sure you do a secure wipe first if you are concerned with data security. –  KCotreau Jul 9 '11 at 18:46
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