No more clean installs with Vista upgrades


Ask any computer guru if you should upgrade your OS over an existing installation or do a clean install by wiping everything off the disk and starting over and they will tell you to do the clean install.  It avoids so many problems by getting rid of any legacy junk that may be part of the existing OS.  This has never been a problem for consumers as you can easily do a clean install, even with an upgrade OS license by proving you own the previous version.  DailyTech is reporting that that will not be the case with Vista, as Microsoft has chosen to only allow upgrade installations with upgrade versions of Vista.

For most users, this wouldn’t be a problem. They more than likely have an existing copy of Windows XP installed and would have no problems upgrading to Windows Vista with an upgrade CD.

But for do-it-yourselfers who buy a Vista upgrade CD and think that they can easily perform a clean install whenever they feel free are going to run into the road block. In this case, the road block means that users wanting to perform a clean install with a Vista upgrade CD will have to:

1) Install a genuine copy of Windows XP Home/Professional
2) Activate Windows XP through Microsoft
3) Upgrade to Windows Vista from within Windows XP

So if you plan on saving money by using a Vista upgrade CD instead of purchasing a full copy, be aware that you’re have a few extra steps involved before booting to the Vista desktop for the first time. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle, you’re going to have to pony up for a full copy of Vista.

This means that the next time you need to rebuild your system because Windows has junked it up make sure you don’t wipe out the offending OS install first.  I sure hope this report is not accurate.



There is a workaround, though, and this is completely legit with Microsoft’s own DVDs. You can install Vista clean with the upgrade DVD, so long as you don’t enter a CD key. Then you can “upgrade” from Vista to Vista (I know), with the CD key.

Mickey Segal

What if Vista is running but you want to redo your Upgrade installation as a Clean Install. Can you put your Vista Upgrade DVD in and go through a clean install?


What DailyTech is reporting and what I mentioned is that in the event you have a hosed installation of VIsta, meaning that like XP something corrupts and the OS won’t run, then they report you have to install XP to survive the upgrade check and then Vista. I haven’t seen any proof that that is not the case. I realize you can do a clean install and I hope DailyTech is in fact wrong, I can’t believe MS would leave users in this situation.

Benjamin Ries

oops – last sentence I meant “posting” not “posing”. There’s MY correction! :)

Benjamin Ries

Respectfully JK, you’re confusing a license upgrade with an upgrade installation procedure. DailyTech’s source is a Microsoft KB article, which clearly states that you can perform a “clean install” of Vista as long as you start the installation setup program from within a working version of Win XP/2000. (

DailyTech’s article may be misleading, but you’re repeating ideas and implications (i.e. that Upgrade purchasers will be stuck with the “legacy junk”) that are patently false. I really like that your site points out ignorance and errors in mainstream UMPC coverage; I suggest setting an example by posing a correction.


I was worried until I saw full version of 64bit Vista Ultimate OEM for $199 @ Newegg. That’s cheap enough for me.


The info that Microsoft gave the store I work at (Office Depot) says the same. There are some versions of Windows that will require a clean install but you can still use an upgrade disk. Every version is able to have a clean install with an upgrade disk, but it will check for a qualified previous version of Windows.

Jayson Billington

Interesting. This seems to directly contradict the marketing materials at online stores such as

Windows Ultimate Upgrade:

Windows Home Premium Upgrade:

Both say:

You can upgrade in-place, which means you can install Windows Vista and retain your applications, files, and settings as they were in your previous edition of Windows or you can do a clean install. If you are currently using Windows 2000 Professional or Windows XP Professional x64, you are eligible for an upgrade copy to a corresponding or better edition of Windows Vista, but a clean install is required. For versions of Windows earlier than Windows 2000, upgrade copies are not available. These earlier versions of Windows require you to install a full copy of Windows Vista.

Dave Zatz

I wonder what HP is going to send me? I bought my MCE PC in October knowing I would get a copy of Vista in February. Will it be an upgrade CD or full copy? I was planning to blowing everything away and doing a clean install (some DVICO drivers killed this system and result in freezes-of-death every other day or so).

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