A Caution about modifying Windows 7 to Install Different Versions

There are a few blog posts circulating about how you can modify your image (or an image of your Windows 7 DVD) to enable you to do things like install a version other than what you bought, or upgrade it from the Release Candidate.  I wanted to put up a word of caution about this, because I’m not sure how many of the other blogs are pointing these things out to their readers.

When Vista came out, Microsoft tried something novel.  They included all of the different versions on one DVD.  Which meant that if you didn’t put in the product key, you could choose which version you were installing (or wanted to install).  Unfortunately this backfired.

People were seeing the list and saying to themselves “I bought Home Basic, but I can install Ultimate?” and then they were doing just that.  At some point in time, they tried putting their license key in, and surprise surprise, it wouldn’t work.  Ultimately, they would have to do a clean install and put in their proper version.  They fell into the little-publicized trap of “You can UPGRADE, but you can’t DOWNGRADE” because it would require Windows to remove some files and add others.

So, Microsoft learned from their mistakes (or at least hid them cleverly).  Now, if you buy Home Premium, and run the DVD, you will install Home Premium—even if you don’t put in your product key.  As I mentioned above though, there are ways around this.  All of the versions are still on the DVD, but they’re locked out.


1.  If you do the modifications that will allow you to install other versions, or upgrade from the Release Candidate, you are modifying the software (which is a violation of the EULA that you agreed to when you started the installation—even if you didn’t READ it).

2.  If you choose to install something that is an upgrade from what you bought a key for, it WILL NOT activate.  And you WILL end up doing a clean installation with the right version.  In other words, you risk losing 30 days worth of programs and data.  And you will definitely have to spend the same amount of time reinstalling the applications that you spent installing them once before.

3.  If you upgrade from the Release Candidate and run into problems, when you contact Microsoft for support, there’s a good chance that they will either 1) not offer you support since your method of installation is “Not supported” or 2) tell you to do a clean install or a supported method of upgrading and if the problem persists, call back in..   Which means you’ll lose all of the data and applications that you put on and will have to take the same amount of time to reinstall the applications as you took to install them in the first place.

Now, I realize that you can back up the data and applications before you reinstall (in both instance #2 and #3).  In the case of #3, you’ll just be reintroducing some of the bugs that caused you to contact Microsoft though.  Either way, you’ll lose some things, and you will spend time redoing the system.

In short, although the temptation is there, why risk having to do something twice, when you could have done it right the first time?

Have a great day:)

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