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I used the CD that came with my old laptop to wipe all data and reinstall Windows. To my horror, the CD installed Windows XP instead of Windows 7 !!!

How can I get back to Windows 7 ? I still have the product key on the laptop.

I would need to boot Windows 7 from a USB because I lost all drivers for the old laptop and it was my only CD burner (not DVD burner).

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If you actually do have a license. There is a Superuser question with links to safe Windows 7 images. – Ramhound Nov 18 '13 at 12:49

In my humble opinion you are screwed. I would suggest two similar courses of action.

Burn a brand new copy of the Windows version you want to use and make a clean format/install of the above OS. Then you can register with your key if you still feel like doing so.

Another way to go, that works well for me, is to run a Linux distro on a USB drive. This way you are able to plug in an internet cable (since you have no drivers installed) and then download windows drivers manually and any other MS product you want. Additionally you can use Brasero burner or any other tool you are familiar with to burn the OS image. Then perform the procedure described above, by installing a clean version of your preferred OS.

I didn't got your question quite well, so my answer could be a bit vague or off-topic. Please let me know in case i can still help you.

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What would booting of Linux serve before a clean install of Windows? – pabouk Nov 18 '13 at 11:43
Well booting Linux from a USB hard drive, usually is easier – NKCh. Nov 18 '13 at 12:25
But how could it help to install Windows? – pabouk Nov 18 '13 at 12:34
example: Run Linux, plug in an internet cable and download Windows drivers manually and any other MS product necessary. Burn a copy of windows with Brasero or any other tool of your choice and go forth by installing windows on your system (era – NKCh. Nov 18 '13 at 12:44
example: run linux,plug in an internet cable in order to find and download drivers for windows manually and any other MS product and even user Brasero or some other tool of your choice to burn the OS image and then proceed with the installation. – NKCh. Nov 18 '13 at 12:47

OK, so putting here for posterity the solution to this conundrum.

  1. Download the appropriate ISO file, see Where do I download Windows 7 (legally from Microsoft)?
  2. Create a bootable USB drive, see YUMI Multiboot
  3. If you get error Windows Setup could not configure Windows on this computer’s hardware, see the solution here
  4. If you get error Setup was unable to create a new system partition or locate an existing system partition just make the hardrive the first option in the BIOS boot order.
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