Microsoft is pushing the Windows 8 Upgrade offers ever since Windows 8 got released a day ago. In fact, you only can buy upgrades on Microsoft Store, if you want a retail copy, you need to buy it elsewhere right now as Microsoft itself is not making those available. The promotions the company is currently running are highly attractive, starting at $39.99 for a Windows 8 Pro upgrade license. What's not clear at all is whether you can do a clean install using the upgrade media or not.
Microsoft's official stance is that you can't, stating that "customers must be running Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista, or windows 7" to install Windows 8 Pro update. The company furthermore notes under "purchasing the upgrade" that if customers upgrading from a Windows 8 Pro upgrade DVD must have an eligible version of Windows running on the PC to begin the upgrade.
Reports on various tech blogs on the other hand seem to indicate that there is more to it than Microsoft wants to admit. Some report that you can do a clean install using a downloaded upgrade copy of Windows 8 Pro that you have burned to DVD or copied on an USB Flash Drive.
While the authors of the articles state that they were able to do a clean install, some readers noted that the operating system would not activate after the installation throwing error code 0x8007007B instead.
The Software Licensing Service determined that this specified product key can only be used for upgrading, not for clean installation
Part of the confusion may be caused by the definition of clean install. Most see a clean install as an installation on a blank hard drive, while some may see it as an option to keep no files from a previous operating system.The following questions need to be addressed:
- Can you use a Windows 8 Pro Upgrade license to install and activate the operating system on a PC with no prior version of Windows?
- Is there a difference between using the Windows Upgrade Assistant to purchase, download and install the copy of Windows, or burning it to DVD or moving it to an USB Flash Drive to install the operating system from the media?
- Do you need an activated version of Windows on the PC to run the upgrade?
I can answer the second and third question at the moment. When you use the Upgrade Assistant to install Windows 8 on the PC it is running, it automatically embeds the product key on the system, while you are required to enter the product key during installation when you create a DVD or USB copy.
According to Microsoft, the PC you want to install the Windows 8 upgrade on needs traces of an old operating system that is eligible for the upgrade. While you can still install Windows 8 on the system, it won't activate otherwise as no previous version of Windows has been found by the installer running on it.
It still feels strange that some users were able to install and activate Windows 8 Upgrade in a clean environment. Caschy for instance was able to install the operating system in a new virtual machine environment without issues, while others who tried the same were not able to do just that. I'm not sure what to make of this at this point in time.
Activate Windows 8 Pro Upgrade
Windows 8 users who noticed that the operating system can't be activated after the installation may want to try the following workaround that worked to activate when installing Windows 8 using an upgrade on a clean PC.
- Open regedit by pressing Windows-q, entering regedit and selecting the result from the list of hits.
- Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Setup/OOBE/
- Change MediaBootInstall from 1 to 0
- Go back to the start screen and enter cmd there.
- Right-click Command Prompt and select to run it as administrator.
- Type slmgr /rearm on the command line and hit enter.
- Reboot Windows now.
- Run the activation utility afterwards, enter your product key to activate Windows.
I'm interested in your Windows 8 installation experience. How did you install the operating system and what was your experience? Did you run into any issues?