Retail version of Windows 7 has two main primary type of licenses – full or full package product (FPP) and upgrade, where the most obvious differences between full and upgrade versions are different prices for full and upgrade license, and customers have to possess an existing Windows license to be eligible for upgrade license.

Officially, Windows 7 Upgrade version only allow an user to “upgrade” from a previous version of Windows operating system, via “in-place upgrade” or custom install, which replaces old Windows. Even if upgrade path from some versions of older Windows cannot perform “in-place upgrade”, and require user to perform a custom clean install, but it only means that user has to start the Windows 7 installation from within an existing Windows, and choose “Custom Install” during the course of Windows 7 setup.

Windows 7 Upgrade license wants to see an installed and activated copy of Windows XP or Windows Vista before installation is allowed. As Windows 7 setup does not ask for an existing CD or DVD disc of Windows, thus if user full formats and wipe XP or Vista installation so that the drive is empty and blank before using the upgrade disc, setup no longer able to see any existing installation, and will return “Invalid Product Key” error message.

Tip: User is allowed to create or delete hard disk drive or partition during the setup through Custom (advanced) -> Drive options (advanced) option (note: a 100 MB system reserved partition may be created by Windows 7 Setup), or let Windows 7 install wizard backup the existing Windows files to Windows.old directory, and then delete and wipe clean the whole partition volume prior to install Windows 7.

Many people believe that Windows 7 FPP (full version) disc media or ISO is different from ISO image or disc media of Windows 7 Upgrade version. In fact, the Windows 7 Upgrade disk and Windows 7 FPP disc may be similar, if not completely the same. Only product key represents the actual version of license bought, and Windows 7 will validate against the product key, as shown by Microsoft Product Key Checker.

Not everybody has a PC readily installed with a Windows for upgrade. And more people does not have time to install an operating system especially the time-consuming Windows Vista just to install Windows 7 Upgrade version. Good news is that Windows 7 upgrade media or ISO image and product keys can be used to perform clean install or custom install on a blank and emtpy PC without any prior OS installed. With the following clean install hacks or custom install tricks, which not only save the headache of users who need to install on a new or clean computer system, but also mean everybody just need to purchase an Windows 7 upgrade license, which costs up to $100 cheaper over a Windows 7 full edition price.

How to Clean Install Windows 7 with a Upgrade DVD Disc or ISO Image

Note: User who has downloaded Windows 7 boxed ESD installation files should follow these steps to create a bootable Windows 7 ISO image from unpacked Windows 7 installation files and burn to DVD prior to follow guide below.

  1. Boot up the PC with the Windows 7 Upgrade DVD disc media into DVD-ROM drive.

    Note: May need to change boot sequence or boot order of device in BIOS, and/or press any key to boot from CD/DVD drive.

  2. Follow the Windows 7 Install Wizard to install the operating system on the blank, empty and clean system.
  3. During installation, when prompted for a product key, DO NOT enter the upgrade version product key.

    Tip: This step is to prevent “Invalid Product Key” error. User can try to input the serial number to check if setup accepts the key. If it’s accepted, all the rest of steps can be skipped.

  4. Unselect and untick the Automatically activate Windows when I’m online check box during the installation process.
  5. After Windows 7 is installed, boot up to desktop, and manually enter the Windows 7 upgrade product key to activate online or activate via phone.

Steps above, which is practically how to perform clean install with a Windows 7 full version media and product key, should work for some, if not most, users. On system that the system still does not accept an upgrade version product key, or face activation failure error code of 0xC004F061, try one or more of the following workarounds to get Windows 7 activated:

Workaround 1: Use SLMgr Commands to Insert Product Key and Activate

  1. Open an elevated command prompt as administrator.
  2. Use the following command to install product key:

    slmgr -ipk <upgrade product key>

    Install Product Key with SLMgr

  3. Activate Windows 7 with the following command:

    slmgr -ato

    Activate Windows with SLMgr

Steps above have also been used to clean install Windows Vista Upgrade version. To check activation status from command line, use slmgr -dlv or slmgr -dli.

Workaround 2: Clean Install Windows 7 Upgrade with Double Installs

  1. After starting up the just installed Windows 7 system, allow system to boot to desktop.
  2. Insert the same Windows 7 DVD media into CD/DVD optical drive tray to start Install Windows wizard again. Alternatively, mount the Windows 7 ISO image to a virtual CD/DVD-ROM drive, or directly run setup.exe from the unpacked Windows 7 installation files.
  3. Reinstall Windows 7 once again (both Upgrade or Custom Install should be OK), enter product key during installation so that Windows 7 can be automatically activated when user first online after installation is done.

Steps above is originally used as a workaround to clean install Windows Vista with upgrade media, and is less commonly used as it’s time-consuming.

Workaround 3: Clean Install and Activate Windows 7 with MediaBootInstall Registry Hack

  1. After booting up, ensure that no Windows Updates pending task which requires a system reboot to finish installing.

    Tip: Normally, an orange-colored shield icon will be displayed next to Shutdown button in the Start Menu Power Button or at notification tray area if a restart is required.

    If reboot is required, restart the computer to allow any pending updates is installed.

  2. Run Registry Editor (RegEdit).
  3. Navigate to the following registry key:


  4. In the right pane, change the value data for MediaBootInstall from 1 to 0.

    MediaBootInstall Registry

    Alternatively, just download and execute MediaBootInstall.reg to merge the value into registry.

  5. Open an elevated command prompt as administrator.
  6. Run the command below to reset Windows 7 activation status:

    slmgr -rearm

    Rearm Windows

  7. Reboot the computer.
  8. Run the Activate Windows utility (accessible from bottom section of Control Panel -> System and Security -> System, or type Activate Windows into Start Search), type in the upgrade product key and activate Windows.

Related Posts

  • Cherie

    Spent all day talking to techs at Microsoft. They didn’t help at all! Thanks- this worked with Windows 8.0 as well.

  • Deric

    Regedit trick worked awesome! Thanks alot!

  • Paul Mc

    Option 3 – brilliant! – Forced to do a clean install due to a melt down with a dual boot setup. Only had the upgrade key, as it was an upgrade product. Option 3 worked a charm. Well done, and many thanks.

  • Bill

    Workaround # 3 worked for me! THANK YOU! It was simple, and saved me tons of time!

  • Nobody Important

    A thousand thank you’s are not enough. As many others, setup required me to do a clean install because ai was upgrading from XP. Then I couldn’t use my product ID. ONly workaround 3 worked for me, BUT IT WORKED!!!

  • Xi

    Does these methods work with Windows 8 Upgrade ISO with Genuine Key?

  • Are


    • RR

      Thank you! Workaround 3 works and it really made my day!

  • Is there anyway to check what kind of product key I have ? I mean is there any kin of product key checker ?

  • Hans

    Thank you very much!!! Great Job

  • grateful student

    man, you saved my ass.
    I have student version of upgrade, and I upgraded from XP.
    Then I decided to do a clean install by formatting first.
    When the code didn’t work, I nearly shat myself because I can’t afford $300.
    Method One worked for me, thank you so much man!!!!

    • grateful student #2

      Ditto. I got the Win 7 upgrade w/Student Upgrade, and my had disappeared. This way, I win!

  • Anonymouus

    Thanks, method 3 worked on my student/faculty license!

  • pidouminou

    Thankkkkkkkkkkk Yooooouuuuuuuuuuuu

  • ninjared

    Thank you SO much! I used workaround 1, and it was fast and worked great! I was super stressed that I would need to buy a full license, and you saved me some stress and money! Thank you Thank you!!!!

  • Jeffreez

    YOU RULE!!! #3 worked like a charm!!!

  • kd

    Just used the reg hack method and it worked great. Thanks!

  • anthony

    I have ordered a computer with no operating system ..which would be the best method to install
    windows 7 pro edition upgrade ?
    do i need to do anything other than put the disc in the new computer and follow instructions?

  • arcanum

    Method 1 failed but method 3 worked for me. (After spending an evening and a morning on this nonsense, I couldn’t face method 2.) The activate step took two tries. I believe the first timed out. Obscenely stupid for MS to make all this a necessity for replacing the boot drive and upgrading with a perfectly valid license on a perfectly valid computer. Thank you very much.

  • ZackS.

    Was able to do this to Boot Camp on Mac OS X. Very much appreciated for this help. Did it on the student professional. Just make when it restarts to hold option to choose the right OS to run. Other then taking a while to figure that out. It went smoothly. :) Used number 3 as well.

  • Encek

    Is this possible with the student upgrade version?

    • R34P3R

      Thank you so much. I used a student upgrade version of win 7 ultimate and number 3 worked like a charm.

  • eagle

    I picked option 3 and work just fine. Thanks a lot

  • earl

    until your article… I was getting frustrated trying to find this answer. THANKS

  • Paul

    Don’t usally comment on websites but this page really helped. I had Vista and upgraded to Windows 7 but then had to re-build which I did with a clean installation. The registry option worked for me (used the regedit search to find “mediabootinstall”). Thanks for the help, I was getting nowhere with microsoft.

  • Andrew

    Thanks! Workaround #4 worked perfectly for me.

  • THANK YOU! Workaround 2 worked great for me!

  • ant

    i went for option 3, more time consuming but no biggie. thanks. i was ready to reinstall xp before coming here

  • Donovan

    I've been trying to get workaround #3 to work, but am having issues with the slmgr.vbs script. No matter what I try, I'm getting the "Invalid combination of command parameters" dialog boxes.

    I've tried using 'slmgr', 'slmgr.vbs', with dashes prior to the commands, with slashes prior to the commands…nothing's working.

    Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated.

  • Nick

    Do any of these methods work with installing windows on bootcamp for mac osx?

  • KSolo

    Workaround 3 worked for me…i did a fresh install on a new ssd from a win7 pro upgrade disc.

    thanks for sharing this info!!

  • spaceghostmostlytoas

    Thank you. I have been running Linux for awhile, and then decided to dual boot with windows to run some dj software…

    I found this a good week after I installed. OPTION 2 was the solution, even after installing updates and things.

    Ridiculously easy, I can't believe it comes down to a simple registry hack. Then again, I can't imagine paying for software in the first place and I did pay for this upgrade a loong time ago..

    fucking windows.

    thanks though.

  • Eric

    Workaround 2 worked for me on an iMac (partitioned drive) and Windows Professional Upgrade. I can't believe I almost bought a whole new operating system for $300.

  • Mindseeker

    Used step 2 and step 3 both worked perfectly, 3 was straightforward, step 2, Installed without cd key, removed the check in automatic activation, disabled internet connection, when it had finished booting up, "ran win 7 instalation disc in windows and pressed install, custom, and I did not formatted the hard drive, pressed just next, the instalation started again and I typed in the cd key, checked activation and pressed next, and it worked like a charm, finished installing, activating finished. thanks for the guide!

    • qaqa

      Windows 7 100% Genuine Key


  • Luke

    thanks again.

    this is like my millionth time using this guide and for the first time it worked straight away after a single windows clean install :D!

    saves a ton of time :D!

  • JMP

    Step 3 is a perfect solution after replacing a hard drive and re-installing Win 7. Well done job!

  • BShea85

    Thank you so much! #3 definitely worked for me!

    I had Vista on an old Acer Desktop. Well, the motherboard on that thing fried, so I took the hard drive out and put it into a new machine I built. That's when things got freaky. Vista said that the machine wasn't the machine it was intended for (I guess it was specifically licensed for the Acer), and Vista kept telling me I had only a few days to "upgrade" before it shut me out. So, I went to a local store and bought the "upgrade" to Windows 7. After installing it, there were just so many issues. So I said screw it and did a clean install. Oops…

    Anyway, again, thanks for your help!

  • csjo


    After a upgrade from xp to win7 that went completely awry (fubared my HD during the service pack upgrade of win7). I spent about 75minutes on the phone with M$ support getting bounced around to support and activation support only for them to tell me that the only way to fix this was to either reinstall windows xp and then upgrade windows 7 OR buy a new copy of windows 7 that is for clean installs. Both of those options seemingly suck as this is for my media center that is without a cd/dvd drive so reinstalling xp was more or less out of the question. Thanks to this article, and option 3, my win7 is now active.

    tl;dr – Option 3 worked for me. I did in five minutes what microsoft support couldn't do in an hour and fifteen minutes.

  • jack

    3 works great, saved me alot of time thank you

  • Sean


  • Todd

    Thanks a ton for this help! My hard-drive crashed last week, and I had to reinstall from a clean-slate forgetting my DVD was an upgrade DVD from a year ago. Microsoft Activation hotline tells me the only way to fix my problem is to reinstall Windows Vista, then from there reinstall Windows 7 upgrade. What a huge amount of time you've saved me from having to re-do all of that. Thanks again ;)

  • Hamid

    Option 3 worked for me. I will go with that.

  • Justin

    option 3 worked for me, thanks so very much!

    after a problem with an old pc last year, i was in a rush so opted for Windows 7 64 to download from MS but chose the upgrade version. after building a new pc this month, i was unable to use my bought and paid for licence of Win 7 premium, even though I have full versions of XP, Vist 32 and 64! ok, i should have installed xp or vista first but i thought i would see an option to veryfy older copies once win7 was installed …… you have saved me alot of time and possibly money for a full version, thanks again!

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  • Linda

    Option 3 worked even for a non-techy like me! I was scared to dive into the Registry Editor, but your instructions were very easy to follow. I had resigned myself to having to buy the full version of Windows 7 since I didn't know how to make the Windows 7 Upgrade activate on my new hard drive. You saved me $200 and made me more confident in my ability to successfully troubleshoot future PC issues, so thank you VERY much!

  • Bill D

    Option 3 worked great! I paid for the bloody software why do they make things sooo difficult.

    Many thanks for taking the time :)

  • JH

    Option 3 worked great for me – made the regedit manually and no problem at all. Thank you very much! Very helpful!

  • YukonJack

    WOOHOOO. This saved my arse after I had to do a clean install (virus) and Windows would not take my activation key. Option three is GENIUS!!!

  • Vanessa

    Thank you so much! Option 3 worked like a charm!!

  • bmi

    Option 3 worked perfectly. MediaBootInstall.reg was exactly where described in the instructions. I second the comments on Microsoft support…it's an absolutely useless run-around game. Can't thank you enough.

  • jason

    Thanks loads! got option 3 to work but I had to find MediaBootInstall.reg somewhere else. I couldn't manualy make the reg changes

  • jaaa

    You are a legend!! I spent a day of my life trying to Activate legitimate version correctly via internet & phone – which wasn't working properly. So I spoke to Microsoft several times & got sent around numerous departments & always back to the same phone number that didn't work in the first place. Over & Over. Monty Python couldn't have scripted it better.

    Using your methods – unsuccessfully tried No. 1 & succeeded with No 3 – in less than the time it would have taken me to get through Microsoft's automated switchboard.

    Thank you soooo much.

  • Nick

    BTW the version I bought (see post below) was via the student discount and it didn't say anything anywhere in any instructions I received you had to install from a previous version of windows for the key to work.

  • Nick

    Wow you are a life saver. I bought Windows 7 Professional and Installed on a brand new Hard Drive. I had no idea the upgrade key wouldn't work. Microsoft essentially told me to bad for wasting your money.

    Work Around 3 took less then 2 minutes from start to finish and worked perfectly.

    Make sure you do it from the Administrator account and your good to go.

  • Barry

    Workaround 1 worked perfectly – what a life saver!!! THANKS!!!!!! :O)

  • JK in MDR

    Option 3 worked great. Calling microsoft got nowhere

  • Bradders

    Thank you.

    The MediaBootInstall hack 3 worked for me.

    I had XP on the PC, but I wanted to install 7 on a clean and fast HDD. So even though I launched Windows 7 setup from XP, the change of partition seems to have made it a clean install.

  • Felicia

    Workaround 3 worked perfectly for Windows 7 Ultimate Systems Student Media upgrade version to a clean install. Thank you so much!

  • fd

    Great information! Thanks!

  • Gail

    Fantastic article. Work around #3 worked for me (Windows 7 professional: student upgrade from Digital River).

    Greatly appreciated.

  • Shawn

    You are amazing you make me happy…and my friend too. lols

  • Augusta

    I know I probably sound ridiculous, but I am trying to do a clean install of windows 7 on my dell which currently runs Vista. I was refereed to this site and told to use Workaround 3. My only question is when do I insert the disk? Step 1 begins "after booting up…" but there is no mention of the disk what-so-ever. Am I to boot up with the disk in and then perform these steps? Sorry for being such a noob. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  • Toralf B.

    Workaround 3 worked just fine. Installed Win 7 on a blank disk, with upgrade version of Win 7.

  • PugDaddy

    One of the most useful, educational posts I've ever read!

    How many times have people re-installed an old system so we could use our upgrade copy of Windows on a new hard drive? It's frustrating to deal with activation issues when you own a copy of Windows and install a new drive. I'm so glad I researched further before going through all that trouble.

    No more worries! Option 3 then I was able to use my upgrade key to activate windows no problem!!!

    Thanks for this great information!


  • Helen

    Thank you – workaround 2 worked for me after my original HDD crashed leaving me with only my Windows 7 Upgrade DVD :-D

  • Terry

    Thanks a lot, Windows has been irritating me ever since I did a clean install due to a HD-failure, nagging me with the message that I didn't have a legitimate product code. I've tried workaround 1, but didn't work. Then I tried workaround 3, which works like a charm! Thanks!

  • Luke

    thanks for this.

    workaround 1 didn't work for me, so i used workaround 2 :)!


  • Peter

    Great article, but the easiest way to clean install Windows 7 from the upgrade disk is simply format the hard drive during the installation using Windows 7. I'd found this note on Microsoft site, tried it and had no problems.

  • Sven Enterlein

    Option 1 worked like a charm for me. Which is good because Win XP installation on my SSD failed for some reason. Thanks man!

  • m p

    Workaround 3 worked great… formatted a new drive and did a clean install of Windows 7 without thinking about the upgrade version I had. Thanks!

  • JW

    Option 3 worked a treat for me too, thanks mate!

  • Hjjpp

    Great, option 3 works. After replacing my HD for a SSD, I was not able to activate Windows7 upgrade. Now it WORKS. Many THANKS!!!!

  • Hoschi

    Workaround 3 worked perfectly!!!!

    Love you guys!!!!

  • MV

    Workaround 3 worked for me thank you so much I didn't realize I'd have to install my XP copy to then do windows 7 after wiping my drive. Was frustrating and you saved me a big headache of doing 2+ more installs after doing the 7 one ++++++!!!

  • Nurseit

    great. Method 3 worked for me. Activated Upgrade version of Win 7. Thank you very much to the original author!!!!!!!!!!

  • ultradude25

    'slmgr' is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file.

    Uhh… what? Why do I not even have the command?

  • Drew

    Option 3 worked for me for Windows 7 Student. Just be sure that your system time is correct or you will keep getting an error. My compy said it was January but it was August and for whatever reason the activation cares about what date your system thinks it is.

    Reinstalled windows 2 times before I found this solution.

  • Art

    YOU DA MAN!!!! Option 3 worked!! There always seems to be a way around Windows, so thank you so much for helping us out!!

  • dant

    Option 3 worked thank you so much. best buy told me it wasnt an upgrade and i could install on anything. thanks alot best buy. when i restarted it scared me with a recomended disk scan O.o? i skipped it and it still worked.. idk weird.

  • Charles

    I have a toshiba laptop with win 7 home and bought the win 7 pro upgrade dvd. I did a "windows anytime upgrade" and there after it would not accept the win 7 pro upgrade key.

    I got it to work by following option 3. and added in the OOBE key and MediaBootInstall dword (as they were not present) i then followed the rest of option 3 and lo and behold it registered YIPEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!

  • JML

    Option 3 worked! Thanks! My old hard drive died and I had to replace it. Microsoft needs to address this, seriously! I legitimately purchased this OS, and due to a hardware failure, they made the process of restoring my computer hell. They treated me like a software pirate. Ridiculous. Thanks again. You are awesome!

  • Daniel

    Oh my gosh! You are my hero. I have been trying for 4.5 hours to figure out a way to do this. My university sold me the disc telling me it was the full version. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Option 3 works!

  • Sean

    thank you very much. my roommate's and my laptops were running vista, the university gave us upgrade versions of windows 7. i did a clean install on both of them because i didn't want the vista shit left anywhere on the machines, and this guide worked great!

  • qwertylesh

    Workaround #3 while also using SLMGR IPK then ATO worked perfectly for me, thank you kindly for allowing me to bypass the ridiculous stipulation which would've forced me to waste hours installing a vista trial beforehand :>

  • Ben

    You, sir, are a scholar and a gentleman. #3 worked great and saved me a HUGE hassle.

    Thanks !

  • M

    #3 worked like a charm. thank you so much for helping me solve this annoying problem! i have very little experience with this sort of thing and your instructions were simple and clear.

  • Pete

    method #3 worked beautifully!!!

    and im not that comfortable in the CMD and registry.

    that was a piece of cake!


  • Chetan

    Thanks man! Number 3 worked like a charm! I was hoping to use number 2 because it looked like more fun, but when I read the comments I decided to skip it – easy, painless, and worked great. Thanks!

  • seadog75

    Did this today to rebuild a laptop. Option 3 worked like a charm! Thank you – saved me a whole bunch of time to fix a crashed laptop!

  • Mike

    Tried option 2 and didn't work (nasty pop up message with a hex error code), tried option 3 and worked like a charm!

    Thanks so much, you saved me time and hassle for the rest of the evening and maybe part of tomorrow!


  • Steve

    #3 worked for me! Thanks!

  • Michael

    It worked perfectly! Option number 3 is the best one! I can't believe it worked!

  • Luke

    work around 1 DID work for a day. next day windows said i may be victim of counterfit blah blah blah. Bought legit win7 upgrade from best buy. did a clean install. this is BS on MS's part. Just did workaround 3. so far it seems to be working. i've rebooted the machine a few times and it still says it's activated so i'll cross my fingers. thanks again for the guide.

  • Luke

    work around 1 DID work for a day. next day windows said i may be victim of counterfit blah blah blah. Bought legit win7 upgrade from best buy. did a clean install. this is BS on MS's part. will try other workaround. if not i'll have to install vista. just so i can install the win7 upgrade. what a bunch of @*$$&#@

  • ph

    Great help, great article!

    After running into problems when trying to activate my full x64 installation from an upgrade medium, I remembered having read your article a while ago. Workaround 1 didn't work for me, I didn't try #2, but #3 worked great. Now everything up and running, thanks a bunch!

  • Luke

    worked perfect thank you for saving me from hours of headache!! used workaround 1

  • Mike

    This was great! Not knowing that a clean install would cause this problem with the upgrade, Option 3 worked for me too.

  • cmendill

    Option 3 worked great!!!!

    Thank you so much.

  • JJ

    Thank you SO much! I bought a student upgrade of win7 but my laptop HD crashed during the process and HP had never given me Vista media.

    I tried Option 1 without success and even got a msg at one point that my key was blocked at the server level. But I'm glad I was persistent because I jumped to Option 3 and it did the trick the first time!

  • cyclebiff

    THANK YOU! Workaround #3 works well using student upgrade 2010-06-13

  • Ryan

    Thank you kindly. I had bought this last semester and upgraded from vista to win7 ultimate. I went to do a clean install not realizing the key wouldn't work.

    Option 3 did the trick. thanks again.

  • Will installing windows update KB971033 "This update to Windows …detects activation exploits and tampering to key Windows system files. These exploits try to bypass regular Windows activation and are sometimes included within counterfeit copies.." void this work around for activating an upgrade key??

  • Richy

    Thank you, thank you! Super easy and straight forward. Workaround #3 is perfect and fast! Awesome job!

  • Paul-B

    Thank you. #1 did not work. But #3 worked like a champ.

    I've been a loyal MS customer since Win 3.1, but I've had a roving eye toward Apple. If this upgrade failed because I chose the wrong disk, that would have been the last straw with MS.

    Your article saved MS one of their customers. They should throw something in your tip jar.

  • hai sir plz send to windows7 ultimate product key

  • hamish

    Thanks a million!!!!

    Workaround 3 (Registry Edit) worked. You've saved me days of work as I had (unknowingly) been working for a week on an unactivated Windows.

    Thanks again

  • Anton

    Thank you, I was going mad trying to sort this after having to format my old hardrive, workaround 3 was quick and painless

  • KJ

    Workaround 3 worked beautifully. What a lifesaver. I didn't want to have reinstall stupid Vista again. Old upgrades used to ask for the old OS disk. I figured the same here. Thanks.

  • gabriel

    Thank you! THANK YOU!!!! I ended up using the last work around… I'm so relieved I dont have to spend another 2 days reinstalling all my software again!!!!! You're the best!!

  • Berdoc

    Method 3 worked perfectly. Thanks.

  • Stephan

    Thank you so, so much…I was getting 0xC004F061 over and over. It's so frustrating to pay for a product to support programmers and be treated like a criminal.

  • Darren

    Dude, will you have my babies? Seriously, man I don't normally put comments on articles I read, but this was such a lifesaver I had to say something.


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  • Jeremy

    Thanks a lot. Workaround 3 worked a charm for me!

  • Jhin

    Oh!!! YOU MADE MY DAY!!! Thanks FOR THIS!!!

  • Klaas

    Trick 3 did it 4 me!


  • skylark


    just wanted to say thanks.

    managed to use your method 3, once i figured out how to do the admin cmd thing (right click, open as admin). d'oh!

    this was for a Mac VMWare3 instal, btw.



  • Jason

    I tried a different method.

    I formatted the new Hard Drive with NTFS on an existing Windows XP Machine. I created an empty Documents and Settings Folder, an empty Program Files folder, and copied all the files except pagefile.sys from the root of one drive to the other then I made an empty pagefile.sys on the new drive.

    Then I created a Windows folder and copied all the files (not folders) within.

    I copied over everything from the Driver Cache, OPTIONS, and System Directory including some files from the System32 Directory.

    Probably overkill. Just didn't want to have to mess around trying more files and folders later in case it didn't work.

    At any rate, when I tried to install Windows 7 again it worked like a charm. First time (blank HD) it failed saying Invalid Product Key.

  • NORM


    Super help, saved me a TON of reinstalling


  • Ralphie

    If you did the MediaBootInstall Registry Hack do not let windows install update KB971033 if you do it eventually will call home and your w7 will no longer be valid.

    I used it to install a my upgread as I was miss imformed on the u[grade path and thought my vista ultimate would be in the path but it was not….my w7 WAS NOT VALID TODAY UNTIL i DID A ROLLBACK AND REMOVED IT.

  • JC

    The install does not work on a blank HDD. I've tried everything and only get "cannot boot from any device"

  • samchilla

    thanks, this was very helpful!

  • Marshall

    Thank you very much. I installed Home Premium x64 on one computer today and the first method worked just fine. I then tried the same method installing Professional x64 and the first method didn't work. So I tried the third and that didn't work. Tried the fourth and activation successful! Thank you so much for taking the time to write this up.

  • JoeFu

    Thank you so much!

    Workaround 3 worked for me, didn't even try the second one. Bought the upgrade version from my school without even knowing it was an upgrade version. So awesome. Thanks for sharing!

  • Inirji

    Thank you so much! You are truly my savior. My Goddamn toshiba laptop with windows 7 upgrade disc has been acting up like a whore. I got so fed up with it I was going to clean wipe it and install from upgrade, but I wasn't sure if I could…Thanks a bunch for the tip about not putting in the cd key. You were truly helpful.

  • JimErwin

    Workaround 3 was successful! Like a newb I wiped my drive before installing, thanks!

  • amel

    thank you, thank you, thank you! This solves my problems ! I would say thank you in every language available.

  • JürgenS

    Hi Guys,


    It is such a hassle to install a legal copy of windows.

    Microsoft should blush about this.

    But thanks to your tips I finally made it.

    By the way – I am once more happy to run windows only in a virtual machine on my MAC :-)

  • Anthony

    Thank you.. option two worked perfectly for me.. I am a student too who did try the upgrade method but still had the activation error.

    My problem has been solved by this,

    Thanks again!

  • Ross

    Awesome. Bought the upgrade through the Open University, when installing i selected clean install instead of upgrade, as obviously i wanted to start fresh with no XP cling ons or viruses kicking about.

    Product key didnt work as it came back and said it was suitable for upgrade only, which is what i was doing!

    I wiped my drive during the clean install and as my dell comes with no discs, the process of reinstalling xp was going to be a nightmare!

    Option 3 worked for me, although i tried all the options leading up to it. Actually I had to run option 3 twice before it would activate.

    Hang in there guys, thanks for the brilliant information…

  • colin

    this is just great! – I just bought my copy using my student discount and the install told me that the key wasnt valid so I was pissed then I remembered this from Windows Weekly and this saved me a call to M$ – best ever Paul and that other guy Rafael Rivera for figureing this out

  • Relieved

    This worked FANTASTICALLY!

    Only tried Option 3 since it was what a lot of others were having luck with, and I've used RegEdit before, so I was already familiarized.

    You have no idea how much stress you relieved from me just now.

    I had called Microsoft 3 times, and nobody could give me a good solution except to reinstall Windows XP Media Center Edition somehow, even though I didn't have the disk since so many manufacturers don't ship compys with them, and then upgrade from there. I had bought a brand new HD since the other one died on me, and decided that a new OS would be nice to go with it…

    Just goes to show you that if you need help, go to the people who use the product, not the people who built it.

  • chuu

    I'm more or less very much stuck, because when I insert my DVD, the PC says "copy files," then "starting windows" and then a blue screen with flowers and swirlies and what not show up on the right and that is it. Nothing else happens. Any suggestions? (I tried it with both a Home Premium and an Ultimate edition).

  • Sekani

    Fantastic Brilliant!!!!

    Thought I'd wasted my money when wouldn't activate

    option 3 worked a treat even though the server said my key was blocked – guess entering too many times at installation caused that.

    (didnt understand why invalid key kept showing)

    Win7 now working on BOOTCAMP

    Great thanks again for sharing

  • Radalolfo

    I tried all of these multiple times and can't get it to work! (sing the upgrade key) I looked up the issue and it says been installed on 6 machines.. which it clearly hasn't! When I go into media boot, it's already listed as "0", is this an issue?

    Anyone try calling MS to get more keys, what do you have to say/provide and what's the response?

  • Workaround 3 worked for me. Thanks!

  • OTbizr

    Great information!!! This is so helpful and much appreciated. Thank you!

    Also, thanks to the many people who posted useful responses as well.

  • Just a wonderful work you have done :o)

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us!

    Greetings from Switzerland,


  • Dr Pump


    What do you do if you're already running Windows 7 Home Premium? It comes up with an error when installing telling you to install using Windows Anytime Upgrade. When I tried it through that you had to input the product key. I really want to get ultimate any help would be greatly appreciated!!


  • I can confirm that for me only Workaround 3 worked.

    I used to have Vista Ultimate, upgraded using a Student/Educational version of the Windows 7 Professional Upgrade.

    Thanks! :)

  • From Montreal

    Thanks it works well-

    I had already done the clean install on a MAC and did not initially provided the key. This morning,after 30 days or so, it asked for the key. I did the online registration and got the error message since it was only to be installed on PC with prior version installed.

    I have used the workaround #3 and it worked suprisingly easy and just as described.

    Many thanks again,

  • Chuck M

    Thanks! I had done the clean install, and expected no troubles with activation. Wrong! I of course received the 'no can do' error message. But I found your answer right away when I searched. Workaround 1 failed, but only because I had already attempted an online Activation. Windows said my key was "blocked." So I went to Workaround 3, re-armed, rebooted, and then succeeded with Workaround 1. So in case anyone else has my particular issue, redo Workaround 1 again after doing Workaround 3, and that just might solve it. Thanks again!

  • Nokk1

    Thank you so much. People will run into a hell of a lot of problems the next time they need to flush their OS and install the W7 upgrade -cos they'll end up having to install Vista fist and then run the W7 upgrade. User experience my %&R¤/&!

    By the way do you have to set the hex value back to 1 when used the third option?

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  • Walker

    I was about to flip the heck out when I realized I had to start all over, but a few minutes later, I'm good to go thanks to you…please don't ever stop making the world a better place.

    Cheers and thanks again!

  • ts

    I bought the home premium upgrade from microsoft's website, and did a clean install on a clean drive. I skipped entering the key when it asked for it, and right after it came up, I activated it in control panel with no issues. Not sure why anyone would spend the extra money for a full version.

  • Crazyromper

    Thanks. You have made it so much easier and saved me money and lots of headaches.

  • Kieran

    I never usually post on random blogs, however you'll be the first. Window's isnt cheap.. I just wanted to install it to my non-corrupt HDD and it was being shitty about it. Thanks so much.

  • scooter

    Thank you so much. I totally didn't realise i had an upgrade pack and wanted to install on a new machine. After working out why the key wasn't working i did another fresh install without putting in the key and then once loaded all up i clicked start, typed in activate and put the key in the box that came up and it worked perfectly.

    THANK YOU!!!!!!

  • Emily

    Thank you for putting this together. I have a copy of Vista and wanted to clean install Windows 7 and was getting frustrated when I couldn't activate with my upgrade product key. I used the third option and it worked perfectly. Thanks again so much!!!!!

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  • Bisbirudolfo

    Hey, Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing. You don't know how many people you help.

    By the way, Thank you.

  • Chughtai

    #3 for me too. thanks!!!

  • xninzx


    you are GrEAT!

    I've done it with workaround.

    Cheers :)

  • Will

    Another thumbs up for #3. Thanks very much for the walkthrough.

  • cunneen

    Thanks for #3.

    Microsoft is really doing their best to discourage legal purchases of software with this sort of behaviour.


    # 3 worked great. Thanks.

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  • guts

    Workaround 3 solved my problem too !!

    thanks a lot !

  • chart

    Does this process work on a MacBook Pro using VMWare Fusion 3.0?

  • Pat

    Re: WA #3

    Nicely done! I now have a clean laptop upgraded from XP/40 Gb to Win 7/250 Gb!

    Thank you for saving me hours of effort.

  • RK

    Wow.. Thanks a lot! WA #3 saved me a lot of trouble from reinstalling the OS. Also make sure that you have your system date and time right, or you might get a "Windows Update error 80072f8f", which wouldn't allow you to activate or do a windows update.

  • cr

    you save my live

    ty :!

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  • bl_ndp_lot

    again, number three worked like a charm. thanks alot.

    one question though – do i need to change the reg value back again, should i not? does it matter?

    any ideas

  • CurtisG.

    Workaround 3 worked great. Exactly as stated.



  • Howard

    I upgraded from Vista on a new hard disk –> activation error. The double install method worked very well. Thank you.

  • steve

    Using the Windows 7 Pro upgrade disc, workaround 3 worked…but not as stated.

    My value was already set to 0

    I changed it to 1 (like you aren't supposed to do) and ran the command and restarted.

    I then changed it back to 0, ran the command, and restarted.

    That worked.

  • Mike

    Great tips, ironically the 3rd step is what MS themselves did when I allowed them to remote access my desktop during the trouble call. I gave them a sob story about the other drive I had with XP tanking and they went to work with the registry edit and running the scripts at the command prompt. One reboot later and VOILA Win 7 PRO activated on a clean install.

  • Simone

    Thanks so much! I had to buy a new hard drive after mine packed up and decided to get Windows 7 at the same time. Bought the upgrade version and was dreading having to install Vista first and then upgrade.

    I had to use Workaround 3, but it worked a charm!!! Thanks for saving me LOADS of time!

  • Binsy

    Thank you so much! Workaround 1 didn't work for me but #3 work perfectly. Youve saved me so much time and hassle and im extremely greatful. Thanks again


  • pish

    how do i install windows 7..i have windows xp there a link i goto to install windows 7 for free…iam confused i keep seeing all these different window 7 stuff..HELP

  • jiggwhat

    Awesome i tried option 3 as option 1 wasnt working for me. youve just saved me MANY hours. thanks so much!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • bou

    Thanks very much for posting this!

    After a load of emails to microsoft (digital river student deal) which were 'answered' (unanswered) by an autobot, I was very glad to find this.

    I used #3 as most people seemed to find this to work – and it worked for me too.

    Thanks again author!

  • AJ

    Thank you so much for this!

    #3 worked for me as well…woke up this morning and my hard drive had failed (Seagate, only a year old) with my newly-upgraded Windows 7! This saved a ton of time & hassle.

  • Thomas Nielsen

    Workaround 3 solved my problem.

  • Dmack9185

    Wow Thanks… Workaround 3 saved the day for install on new hard drive. Old hard drive dead. Ordered Win7 Pro upgrade for Vista on Sony vgn-cr120e. Invalid key activation. Followed steps in workaround #3 and then did the activated dance around office!!!!

    Thanks Thanks,


  • amcrea2000

    Workaround #3 seems to be the one. Worked for me as well

  • Chris

    Workaround 3 worked great. Thanks

  • Siva

    method 3 worked. Thanks.

  • Billie

    Advice Please:

    I installed my update over top of an XP installation, but I had it format the disk before booting from the W7 ISO disk. It installed fine, but for Trick 3 – the value in MediaBootInstall was already set to 0!

    How could that happen, and what should I do?


  • I don't know if it was because I use the 64-bit Edition, but neither Trick #1 nor Trick #3 worked to get Win activated! I didn't appreciate using Trick #2, because I wanted to keep my files, programs and settings that i created in the two days since first-time installing Win 7 on a blank formatted (which was the big mistake i made)… So now I don't have a cleanest install, i hope it's clean enough…

    But could you try to figure out, why workarounds 1 and 3 didn't work? The Registry keys that you see in the screenshot above don't exist on my machine! Not even the MediaBootInstall key does exist, and by creating it, nothing changed.

    Can you help me explaning?



  • Colin

    Workaround 3 works great!! Greatly appreciated!

  • marek

    Thank you for ALL of your TIME & EFFORT in making this information available to the general public!

  • Slite

    Thank you for this, workaround 3 worked for me.

    I very much appreciate it.

  • Chris

    Thank you, #2 works well. #1 did not work for me, and i didn't need #3. :)

  • shaik

    Thanks you very much. The 3rd workaround really worked.


  • M@B


    I saved a lot of Time!

  • Jerry J

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! those tips saved me lots of time and headache.

    I ended up using some combination of the tips above, tips #1 and #3 did it somehow.. I ended up using the registry hack(tip #3), then I disconnected the network cable. Rebooted the machine, ran the slmgr -ipk. Entered my key, then connected the network cable and activated Win 7…

  • Steve

    Solution 3 worked perfect with my student version!! You folks are amazing, compared to the more than lousy MS support (if one can call that support).

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  • This page is a blessing after I have tried numerous options with little success.

    Many thanks.

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  • Windows 7 shame

    Thank you so much for publishing this information. The idea that I would have to install my old operating system on my new build just to turn around and overwrite it with Windows 7 is maddening. What the heck were they thinking?

    Procedure number 3 was fairly quick and painless. It is just sad that it is necessary at all.

    Thanx again!

  • Peter

    workaround #3 worked perfectly and instantly

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  • Tim

    #3 successful w/ student download version! Thank you.

  • Steve

    I upgraded XP to Windows 7 and none of those have worked, I am still getting an invalid Product key error. I have made 5 calls to Microsoft, and spent over 2.5 hours on the phone trying all of these work arounds. I am extremely disappointed in this whole process.

  • Shinji

    Just an FYI. The discs are identical in content except for the ei.cfg which defined what edition the disc is for.

  • Frank

    Yeah! Workaround 3 did the trick after the other Workarounds did not accomplish the task for me. Thank you for ALL of your TIME & EFFORT in making this information available to the general public!