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i've purchased a copy of Windows 8 Pro Upgrade.

i have a drive i would like to install it on:

enter image description here

When it comes time to do the upgrade, i'm not sure what option i want to check:

enter image description here

i'm concerned that:

  • if i choose to keep Nothing, the installer might keep nothing
  • if i choose Keep Windows settings, personal files, and apps, that the installer might keep Windows settings, personal files and apps

Is there a way to tell the Windows installer to keep everything and to keep nothing?

Irrelevant Bonus Information

From the Help me decide link:

Here are the options you might see:

  • Windows settings. Windows settings like Ease of Access, your desktop background, or Internet favorites and history will be kept. Not all settings will be moved.
  • Personal files. Anything saved in the User folder is considered a personal file, like the Documents and Desktop folders.
  • Apps. For the apps that are compatible with Windows 8, some will just work while others will have to be reinstalled in Windows 8. For the apps that need to be reinstalled, find the installation media and installers.
  • Nothing. Delete everything and replace your current version with a copy of Windows 8. Your personal files will be moved to a windows.old folder.

If you choose Nothing, make sure to do the following before you continue:

  • Back up your files to an external hard drive, DVD or CD, USB flash drive, or network folder.

enter image description here


Not trusting Microsoft to not destroy my existing installation of Windows, i unplugged my two other hard-disk SATA cables, and booted from the DVD. That way there no was chance of losing data.

After getting Windows 8 installed i had an Action Center item to activate Windows. Unfortunately i'm not allowed to activate Windows:

enter image description here

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closed as not a real question by ChrisF, Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, BBlake, Diogo, 8088 Nov 26 '12 at 15:44

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Why don't you click on the "Help me decide" link on the bottom left of the window, and see what is says? – TFM Nov 26 '12 at 1:31
@TFM Partially because i was hoping for an answer, but mainly because it doesn't help me decide. – Ian Boyd Nov 26 '12 at 1:41
If it is an upgrade you only get those two options. If you had purchased the full version you would have booted from the Installation media and Told it to install on the second drive, which would have most likely installed a dual boot menu. You could do a System image using windows backup to your second drive so you can restore to win 7 if you do not like the new version. This would also allow you to mount the backup to pull info from it as well. – Phillip R. Nov 26 '12 at 2:30
Again it is an upgrade key so you cannot install and activate the way you are trying to do it. You have purchase a full license to install AND activate that way. – Phillip R. Nov 26 '12 at 2:53
If you choose Nothing then only your personal files will be kept. Once you upgrade and retrieve those files you can use the Cleanup Tool to delete the Windows.oldfolder. This question has been asked and answered before. – Ramhound Nov 26 '12 at 3:44
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Since you did a clean install of Windows 8 using the DVD to a blank hard drive with no trace of a previous operating system, you should be able to work around the product activation issue as follows:

  1. Open Registry Editor (regedit).

  2. Navigate to the registry key:

  3. Modify the value MediaBootInstall changing it from 1 to 0.

  4. Open a Command Prompt as Administrator.

  5. In the Administrator Command Prompt window, run:

    slmgr -rearm
  6. Restart the computer.

  7. Press Win+Q, type Activate Windows into the Search box and press Enter.

  8. Now enter your product key.

If you have Windows activated at this point, then stop and enjoy.

If at this point it still refuses to accept the product key, then continue on with:

  1. Open a Command Prompt as Administrator.

  2. In the Administrator Command Prompt window, run:


    inserting your Product Key instead of XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX.

  3. In the Administrator Command Prompt window, run:

    slmgr -ato

Check that Windows is activated now.

If it's STILL not activated (very unlikely), then use the nuclear option:

  1. Install a previous version of Windows onto the blank hard drive.

  2. Install Windows 8 over this version of Windows. Choose to keep Nothing, and delete the windows.old folder after installation.

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My "solution" was to re-install Windows overtop itself. It seems extraordinarily likely that the MediaBootInstall trick would have done it. – Ian Boyd Nov 26 '12 at 15:30

You cannot install Upgrade version of Windows 8: it's supposed to replace your existing copy of Windows with this brand new Windows 8 Pro installation.

You cannot keep using your previous version and use Windows 8 at the same time. That's what the installer complains about.

If you want a clean install of Windows 8, you can do it this way:

  1. Backup all your personal files to another drive.
  2. Start Windows 8 setup booting from DVD or USB.
  3. Enter the key you purchased.
    It will find the previous Windows version on disk C: and allow the installation.
  4. When it asks where to install, you can reformat your C: drive to remove all the traces of previous Windows version.
  5. Wait for the installation process to complete.
    It won't touch other drives you have: only the drive where you install Windows is affected.
  6. Enjoy your brand new and clean install of Windows 8.

You may be lucky to install it on another drive but still it's illegal to use Windows 8 and the previous version of Windows you had before at the same time. On the other hand, you can re-install your previous version (and remove Windows 8): this is a legal action.

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Fortunately, in a dual-boot situation, it is impossible for me to use Windows 8 and the previous version of Windows i had before at the same time. – Ian Boyd Nov 28 '12 at 0:30
  • Disconnect the SATA connector of the hard drive you don't want damaged
  • Boot from the Windows 8 upgrade DVD
  • Install Windows 8
  • From inwide Windows 8, run setup.exe from the Windows 8 upgrade DVD
  • Install Windows 8, selecting the Keep nothing option
  • Take ownership, grant Full Control, and delete the Windows.old folder
  • Activate Windows 8 with your upgrade key
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