Upgrading Windows HD

I recently upgraded a client’s computer from an old spinning hard drive to an SSD (solid state drive) to make the machine much faster. A simple disk clone did not work for Windows 7 to make the disk bootable. To make Windows 7 boot properly, the SID (Security Identifier) had to be updated. This is done easily using Paragon Partition Manager┬áby just checking off the option to change the SID after performing the disk copy.

Windows 7 Fresh Install from Upgrade Disk

Upgrade Conundrum

Microsoft offers Full and Upgrade versions for each of its Windows 7 versions: Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate. To qualify for an upgrade, you need to have a copy of Windows 2000, XP, or Vista. Unfortunately, anyone running Windows XP or 2000 can not do an in-place upgrade to 64-bit Windows 7. A migration to Windows 7 is needed. This can be done with an upgrade disk, which moves all your existing files to a windows.old directory. See the this Upgrade/Migration Table to see what is possible for your scenario.

Upgrade from 32-bit Windows XP of Vista to 64-bit Windows 7

If you back up your files yourself, wipe your hard drive completely, then try to install using the Upgrade disk, it doesn’t work because the Upgrade disk doesn’t see the qualifying product that you are upgrading from.

There are many other reasons to want to do a clean install. It is smart to do a clean install on such a major upgrade. Many people used the beta of Windows 7 after wiping their legal copy of Windows. Those people need a clean install but are legally entitled to use the Upgrade Disk.

Hack Time

Thankfully Paul Thurrott’s Supersite for Windows explains how to get around this technical problem that Microsoft created. Method 1 is to just try the Upgrade activation key to see if it works. If that does not work, Method 2 explains the “hack”:

  1. Install Windows 7 Upgrade DVD and do no put in your upgrade key. Just leave the key blank and do not activate yet.
  2. Open RegEdit by going to the Start Menu search and typing regedit.exe and hit enter.
  3. Navigate on the left menu to: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Setup/OOBE/
  4. Double-click on MediaBootInstall and change it from “1” to “0”. Close RegEdit.
  5. Type cmd in Start Menu search to display a shortcut to the Command Line utility. Right-click this shortcut and choose “Run as administrator.” Accept the UAC prompt.
  6. Type in the command line: slmgr /rearm
  7. Hit enter and wait for the completion notice.
  8. Reboot.
  9. Activate Windows with your Upgrade Key

Microsoft Upset

Microsoft is upset that this “hack” could be used to illegally install the Upgrade on computers that do not qualify for it. See Paul Thurrott’s response to this: Enough, Microsoft. No One Is Endorsing Piracy. Obviously.

Also consider that Microsoft doesn’t have to act this way. Apple realizes that activation keys do more to frustrate legitimate users than to thwart thieves. That’s one of the reasons that Apple’s operating systems have never had an activation system. Upgrades and full installs just work. Apple trusts that most of its users will do the right thing.

Windows 7 OEM Version

For technically savvy users looking for a better deal on Windows 7, this isn’t even needed. One can purchase a cheaper OEM version of Windows 7 from Newegg for building a new computer. This comes without support from Microsoft, but is a great deal for people who do not rely on Microsoft support.

Windows 7 Launch

It’s A Party

Windows 7 is arriving next Thursday October 22nd. Microsoft has sent out many house party kits for people to celebrate this launch. While it is dorky, it still is helping to generate buzz. Microsoft has a video on how to host a launch party that has been widely parodied.

Here’s my party pack, complete with streamers, puzzle, cards, tote bags, poster and napkins:

Windows 7 Launch Party

It was probably more fun to wait in line for the Windows 95 launch at a CompUSA and get free pizza, but that’s not possible anymore. So I’ll be doing Microsoft’s so-unhip-that-hopefully-its-hip party.

Windows 7 Resources

As with Vista, Windows 7’s pricing, features, and versions are not simple.

Microsoft has a Windows 7 site and a Compare Editions page.

However, I prefer Paul Thurrot’s SuperSite for Windows with great official and unofficial information:

  • Windows 7: All Paul Thurrot’s Windows 7 articles
  • Comparison of Windows 7 versions. It’s a bit complicated, but most people will probably want Home Premium.
  • Pricing for various versions. Advanced users will probably purchase the cheaper OEM versions. There is also the ability to upgrade from one version of Windows Vista or 7 to higher version within the operating system using Windows Anytime Upgrade.
  • Upgrading or migrating to Windows 7. One of the more surprising things for the many Windows XP users will be that they can not upgrade to Windows 7. A clean install followed by a migration is needed. That is a difficult process that will encourage most people to simply buy a new computer.