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I preordered Windows 7 from NewEgg for $99. I thought I was ordering a full version, but in fact ordered an upgrade version. My intent is to run this in VMWare Fusion on a Mac. Do I need the full version in order to do this from scratch?

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[edited to be clearer]

In my experience, a Windows upgrade install will ask you to insert the CD/DVD of the prior version to verify that you own it. Since you have a pre-installed installation of XP (on a different computer), can you call the system vendor and request the Windows media? Often you can order them if your system was pre-installed. $10 or so. It's a good thing to have anyway, in case you need to reinstall the Thinkpad.

Technically, you are not allowed to do what you are planning to do. Pre-installed (OEM) copies of Windows are licensed to the one computer on which they are originally installed. You are not allowed to upgrade them to another computer, virtual image or not, as far as i know. The legal solution is to return the upgrade and get the full version.

On the other hand, if you get the original media, as suggested above, and they send you a disk with the full version on it, then you have what you need to upgrade legally.

Either way, it's a good idea to make sure you have the product keys for your pre-installed software (Windows and Office, if you have it). I use (no kidding) Magical Jelly Bean KeyFinder, though there are other programs to get the keys for you.

If you are comfortable with regedit, the Windows XP product key is stored at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ProductId

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Answer doesn't address virtualization. This is not an upgrade of an existing system. – mmcglynn Oct 22 '09 at 16:22
Sorry, i understand that. My answer is about a "clean install" rather than an upgrade. However, i will edit my answer to be clearer and to add some thoughts. – bill weaver Oct 22 '09 at 17:31
Win7 doesn't work this way. In my experience it wants a good install on a hard drive before it will proceed. – hotei Sep 14 '10 at 18:44
@hotei - perhaps; i've only upgraded XP and earlier, and only installed full versions of Win7. The primary answer is the same: can't do what he was wanting to do, legally. Exchange it for the right license. – bill weaver Sep 15 '10 at 10:13

You may be able to perform a clean install of Windows 7 using the Upgrade media.

I have not tested the procedure below, but I know that it works for Vista and probably also for Win7. The basic idea is to install Vista as a trial version, then upgrade it ... to Vista (!).

The procedure for Vista is as follows (replace Vista->Win7) :

  1. Boot with the Windows Vista Upgrade DVD.
  2. Click "Install Now."
  3. Do not enter a Product Key When prompted.
  4. When prompted, select the Vista product edition that you do have.
  5. Install Vista normally.
  6. Once the install is complete, restart the DVD-based Setup from within Windows Vista.
  7. Perform an in-place upgrade.
  8. Enter your Product Key when prompted.

Read this Vista article for more details (probably the same for Win7):
How to Clean Install Windows Vista with Upgrade Media

This procedure is apparently a "feature" demanded by some customers of Microsoft.

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This won't work for XP users who no longer have XP installed, though. – th3dude Oct 22 '09 at 13:58
@Drake: AFAIK with this procedure you can fool any Upgrade version of Windows Vista (and probably Win7) into installing itself on a PC without upgrading a previous OS install. – harrymc Oct 22 '09 at 14:18
It also doesn't work if you don't have the original install media. LOTS of vendors don't give it to you unless you order/buy it separately. – hotei Sep 14 '10 at 18:45
@hotei: This method uses the upgrade media as its own "original" media. Using it without having the right license is illegal. – harrymc Sep 14 '10 at 20:18
@hotei: Did you follow all the steps as described for example in the article "Clean Install Windows 7 with Upgrade Media" : – harrymc Sep 15 '10 at 14:07


You are correct. If you no longer have XP installed on your machine or have installed a blank hard drive your upgrade to Windows 7 will not be able to be validated.

For additional assistance with the migration of Windows XP to Windows 7, please see this link.

Jessica Microsoft Windows Client Team

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Didn't understand the question. I want to create a virtual machine vie VMware Fusion on my Mac. – mmcglynn Oct 24 '09 at 11:49
The fact that it’s a VM doesn’t change the licensing issue nor the fact that if it’s a upgrade, you’ll need either an “old” VM with the “old” OS you want to upgrade or the media to prove that you’re a legit user. – Martín Marconcini Nov 12 '09 at 0:53

There is no functional difference between Windows 7 Professional Full and Windows 7 Professional Upgrade.

The difference is that upgrade versions require you to have a previous version of Windows that you are upgrading from (such as XP, Vista, etc).

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How does it check, out of curiosity? Can you only install over existing install, or install an upgrade on a new drive and either offer it a CD or product code? – Bonus Oct 22 '09 at 13:40
Honestly, I'm wondering this myself. I know my XP Upgrade edition used to ask me to insert the disc of my previous OS (Windows 98) for verification, but it hasn't in a long time (patched out, I guess). I'd like to know the answer to this too. – th3dude Oct 22 '09 at 13:43
My only installed version of XP is a pre-install on a Thinkpad. I have no media. Will I need to buy the full versus the upgrade? – mmcglynn Oct 22 '09 at 13:47
@dude: May not be any difference AFTER the installation, but there sure is a difference before. – hotei Sep 14 '10 at 18:46
I belive that it checks by seeing if there's a Windows folder installed already. Check this blog out: – Hondalex Sep 14 '10 at 18:58

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