You cannot use an upgrade key to perform a clean installation of Windows Vista

You cannot use an upgrade key to perform a clean installation of Windows Vista:

Okay there’s a part of me that understands that… that it’s for compliance purposes….but there’s a part of me that goes…hang on… that was a way that I could flatten an OEM, take my Action pack upgrade media and get a clean install out of it by merely proving that I had a prior clean build.  Big server enterprise land uses “Business desktop deployment” and RIS and ghosting and all that..we don’t down here… so

Microsoft Solution Accelerator for Business Desktop Deployment 2007:

…if we don’t do that as it’s too big for us… I think we’re going to have to start discussing what we do have as options down here depending on the version we have.  I know that I’m very glad for VMware testing purposes that I made the choice to purchase TechNet plus direct.  That gives me real full licenses of Vista, that, obviously cannot be used for business, but at least I can use to quickly/easily build a desktop for testing purposes.  I don’t think the Vista Business that we get with Action pack will let me do that… and I’m not sure the Business one I get with MVLS (Vol Licensing) will let me either…. I need to check on that.

I think for most folks he OEM way is how these guys will be sold….don’t you?


6 Thoughts on “You cannot use an upgrade key to perform a clean installation of Windows Vista

  1. Hi Susan, I’d like to beg to differ – I’m typing this on an action pack install of Vista – that was a clean install – it’s a technicality, but if you build a vanilla XP machine and patch it (of course) then run the “upgrade” from within XP you can make it a clean install – the old XP install goes into a windows.old directory.

    Now some people will argue that because any other directories that are on the partition still remain, that it’s not a “clean” install – but it’s very handy to be able to get all your drivers from within XP (network ones especially) and leave them in a directory that will still remain after the installl….

    I’m happy – I’d like to have an Ultimate license as well – to show off the capabilities – I don’t just advocate Windows for business use… so why can’t I evangelise about Media Centre and all the other good stuff – surely MS wants all the licence money it can get?

  2. I am seriously disillusioned with this. I always said that if anti-piracy measures make life harder for legitimate users, then no-one wins. I am furious with Microsoft for pulling this stunt. I just tried to upgrade my supposedly vista-capable Acer tablet and the upgrade blue-screens on the first boot before setup has completed. So I can’t upgrade and I can’t nuke-and-pave either. Luckily, the rollback uninstall works great, so far that is starting to look like Vista’s best feature.

    If this is the way it’s going to be, then I will find it very hard to recommend upgrade licenses to anyone and it will seem like being ripped off if they are forced to buy a whole new full license just to get a clean install. We all know that upgrade installs tend to be problematic so I just can’t believe MS has pulled this dirty trick.

  3. A Microsoft employee on a Forum where I give technical assistance says:

    “You CAN use an Upgrade-only Vista Key to do a clean install. When the Vista Installer asks for a Key number, leave the field blank. Proceed with the installation. When you are ready to Activate, enter your Upgrade Key.”

    “Just be sure that you choose the version of Vista that you have a Key for. Otherwise, you’ll (obviously) never be able to Activate.”

  4. Meint D. on January 28, 2007 at 2:26 pm said:


    I can tell you first hand this is not the case. I fell foul of this and now have to do it all again, after spending several hours on finding drivers etc. A complete shambles!

  5. R. Brown on January 28, 2007 at 10:39 pm said:


    You are correct that if you don’t input the key, you can do a clean install. The problem will happen when you have to activate and put in the BS Upgrade Key that Microsoft provided us. It will then tell you that the key is invalid for a clean install. At this point you are screwed and will have to blast your system back to XP and do the upgrade from there. I have SO been looking forward to this Action Pack package, but after this one, I’m starting to re-think this. Of course we can complain until we’re blue in the face, but big M$ will not give a flying crap about their partners on this one.

  6. See Paul Thurrott’s SuperSite for Windows: Is it the “right thing” to do? I don’t know. I am rethinking my involement in the Action Pack Program.

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