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I've been a Mac OS X user for years (and likely will continue to be), but now that Windows 7 is out I'd like to give it a shot on a part-time basis, partially because of the (comparatively) good reviews and partially because I have friends and relatives that will expect me to support the system.

I'm considering getting a $30 copy from [win741.com][1] (as I am a student), but it seems that it's only possible to get the "upgrade" version and not the "full" version (and there's no way I'm spending upwards of $200 on this indulgence).

So my question is this: does the Windows 7 require an earlier version of Windows to be installed? Is it possible to trick a clean-installed Windows 7 into thinking that it installed from an upgrade?

Would it be possible to pirate a copy of Windows XP or Vista, install it in a VM/separate partition, then install the Windows 7 upgrade on top? Will I have WGA problems? Or will Windows 7 outright refuse to install? If so, what other options do I have of getting a legitimate copy of Windows 7 without paying the exorbitant "full" version price?

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7 Answers 7

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Good news everyone! It turns out that pirating Windows is not necessary - It's possible to flip a registry bit on a clean install and make Windows 7 think that an upgrade was installed. This allowed me to successfully activate my copy of Windows on my MacBook. It's also worth noting that I was not prompted to prove that my installation was an upgrade during the installation - the only hitch came when I tried to activate.

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The key in question is HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Setup/OOBE/ - Change the MediaBootInstall value from 1 to 0. –  Goyuix Nov 3 '09 at 17:20

Well in OSes pasted I have installed windows using a "back up" copy of a previous version. It simply prompted me for the disc (no cd key for the old os) when I installed the new one clean install no previous OS on the hard drive. And before everyone goes ape sh*t yes the disc was on a burnt medium but I have at least 5 xp licenses 2 Oem 2 Pro and 1 MCE. So yea if MS wants to bring out the lawyers I guess Ill just have to go open source. They should really just be greatful that your at least willing to pay something.

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No problem, the "full" moniker is just a confusion in terms in win741.com.
From Student offer for Windows 7:

The student windows 7 version available thru www.win741.com is the FULL VERSION.

The OFFICIAL answer:

Dear Customer,

Thank you for choosing Windows 7 Online store.

We understand that you are interested to purchase Windows 7 Upgrade through our online store.

We apologize for the confusion.

The Windows 7 offered in this promotion is a full version. You can install this product even though you do not have a previous Operating System installed in your computer or if you want to make a multi boot using Windows 7. The "Upgrade" included in the product name is just because Windows 7 is the latest Operating System Windows developed.

Sincerely,
Joanna A.
Windows 7 Offer online store
Customer Service
Carey Frisch

EDIT

Curiouser and curiouser. The article Windows 7 Student Offer Now Available In The UK says:

Microsoft have also changed the wording of the offer implying that only upgrade versions of the OS will be available with this offer. Students will be able to download the OS from the 22nd October. They can also order a fully packaged product if they require for an additional £9 and 32 bit and 64 bit editions of the OS are both available. This offer is open to any student with a valid university or college email address and is running for 3 months.

I hope "fully packaged" here means cardboard boxes, not full versions.

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Wow, that would be fantastic if it's true. Though given the preponderance of the word "upgrade" on the page I don't know what to believe: dl.getdropbox.com/u/146086/win7upgrade.png –  Lrrr Oct 26 '09 at 7:50
    
If you're not sure, just email their support, like the above guy did. –  harrymc Oct 26 '09 at 9:02
    
Good idea, I just did. Waiting to hear back. –  Lrrr Oct 26 '09 at 17:17
    
Sorry, it's been a while since I posted. I did contact support, and they told me that it was an upgrade, not the full version. I was able to install without a problem, but it wouldn't let me activate the installation because my product key was for an upgrade. I was able to fool the computer into thinking it was an upgrade - see my answer here superuser.com/questions/60688/… –  Lrrr Nov 3 '09 at 16:51
    
Sorry to tell you, but what you've done is illegal. I would get back in touch with their support and ask how to get a student full version (just in order to get a new Win7 serial number). Otherwise you're still labeled as a pirate. –  harrymc Nov 3 '09 at 17:58

The win741.com offer is the full version not an upgrade. Read the fine print: Full Terms and FAQ's links from the order page.

(Unless this has changed since I read through it a few weeks back. :-(

It has not changed (just checked).

From Full Terms:

"Program Description: Eligible students are allowed to purchase one license of the product below:

  1. Microsoft® Windows 7 Home Premium

OR

  1. Microsoft® Windows 7 Professional

Purchase Limitations: Eligible students may purchase no more than one license of Microsoft® Windows 7 per valid e-mail address or billing address."

From FAQ:

"Are these products Academic license(s)/version(s)? No, these are retail versions, which provide all the benefits you would receive if you bought it at the store."

There is mention of upgrading from Vista, etc. But nowhere in the terms or FAQ does it state the it is an upgrade license. It does in fact mention doing clean installs.

Hope this helps.

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That's what the license says, but the site prominently figures the word "upgrade": dl.getdropbox.com/u/146086/win7upgrade.png A full version for $30 would be awesome though. –  Lrrr Oct 26 '09 at 7:52

It's against the Windows EULA to install a pirated copy of Windows XP, and as such would be against the EULA to "upgrade" from a pirated XP to a "legit" Windows 7. You would still be running a pirated copy of Windows.

The only way to get a legit install of Windows 7, without previously owning a legit Windows XP disc, is to purchase the "exorbitant" priced full version.

I can't do it myself, so I'm going to recommend this question be closed, as it is condoning piracy.

Edit: To reply to your edit, and as was stated below, you can not transfer an OEM license from one computer to another, it is "bound" to the system it was installed on by the EULA.

And in response to your questions as to whether you need to install XP or just have a valid key, you are actually required to have Windows XP/Vista installed in order to use the upgrade disc, you can not use it to install on a blank hard drive.

http://social.answers.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/GettingReadyforWindows7/thread/755b9ff7-bff2-42ba-97e5-ae18a0286a84

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OK, I'll concede that this isn't any better than pirating Windows 7 directly. However, does Microsoft track this? Would it be possible to be cut off via WGA? –  Lrrr Oct 26 '09 at 5:48
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Whether or not Microsoft "tracks" it does not matter, it is piracy, and is against the EULA. I would recommend taking your questions elsewhere, as this site isn't meant to aid in the piracy of software. –  Drakia Oct 26 '09 at 5:52
    
@Drakia: Fair enough. Though I just remembered that, from a technical standpoint, I have an unused Windows XP license in the form of a restore disc for an old computer that currently has Linux installed. I have edited my question to include this followup, should you wish to address it. –  Lrrr Oct 26 '09 at 5:56
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Does the EULA cover having a pirated copy of XP but NOT installing it; just using it for the Win7 install? Technically you aren't subject to a EULA you don't "agree" to, thus it would have to be in the 7 EULA. –  tsilb Oct 26 '09 at 6:03
    
It's required to have a valid and verified XP/Vista install to use the upgrade disc, you can't just use the XP/Vista disc itself as a method of upgrading. –  Drakia Oct 26 '09 at 6:32

OEM disc are only legal on the computer the disc came with. You can never transfer ownership of the OEM copy to another computer.

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Having been away from the Windows ecosystem for so long, it feels like entering the Twilight Zone when trying to deal with what is and isn't "legal" and "allowed" by the license/EULA. But thanks for clearing up that issue for me. –  Lrrr Oct 26 '09 at 6:26

According to the most recent Windows Weekly podcast, it's possible to do a clean install using the Upgrade media.

Whether it's "legal" for you to buy the Upgrade or not is another story entirely :}

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A clean install is good, but does it require any proof of existing Windows XP/Vista ownership? Thanks for the tip though, I'll give the podcast a listen. –  Lrrr Oct 26 '09 at 5:57
    
It is possible to do a "Clean Install," yes, however I don't think it is the same sense of the term that you're thinking of. You can't install onto a blank hard drive using the upgrade media, you are required to have XP/Vista installed beforehand, but you can choose during the install to completely overwrite your existing OS, hence doing a "clean install". –  Drakia Oct 26 '09 at 6:30
    
In previous versions of Windows, if you did a clean install with upgrade media I believe you were prompted to insert the install disk for the previous Windows version. –  pelms Oct 26 '09 at 19:26

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