Microsoft Says No to Windows 7 Upgrade 'Hack'

Microsoft posts a response to information drifting around the Internet that Windows 7, its new operating system, can be installed using an upgrade disk on a blank hard drive. Such an installation would violate Microsoft's End User License Agreement, and Microsoft insists that this is illegal. The large number of full Windows licenses already in circulation may prevent this so-called hack from becoming a huge issue.

In response to news that the Windows 7 upgrade disk can be used to install the entire operating system on a blank hard drive, Microsoft issued a firm message: Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

Microsoft, of course, would like the community to follow its EULA (End User License Agreement), which stipulates that in order to upgrade a user must already have a "qualifying full license" attached to a previous version of Windows.

However, a number of blog and message-board posts circulating on the Web since Windows 7's Oct. 22 launch have suggested that if a Windows user wants to save anywhere from $74 to $91 (based on's prices), he or she can purchase a Windows 7 upgrade disk in place of the full version. From there, a number of paths exist for loading the upgrade onto a blank hard drive and then using that as a basis for activating the Windows 7's full package product version.

But those doing so will risk the wrath of Redmond.

"When you purchase software, you are purchasing the rights to run the software according to the terms of the End User License Agreement ... that comes with that software," Eric Ligman, global partner experience lead for Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group, wrote in an Oct. 27 post on the Microsoft SMB Community Blog.

"When these posts and write-ups state that you can install clean from an Upgrade piece of software and they fail to mention that you need to own a qualifying software license to be legal to use the Upgrade software for installation," Ligman continued, "they give the impression that because it is technically possible, it is legal to do so."

It is, apparently, not.

"For you, Windows 7 is available preinstalled on PCs around the world," Ligman told anyone tempted to engage in any sort of "special" upgrading. "Or you can purchase a full Windows license from one of the many Microsoft Partners we have, or you can download it today."

Despite any cost savings that might be achieved by installing an upgrade without a previous license, the "hack"-as Ligman terms it-may not prove to be huge problem for Microsoft, considering the massive number of Windows users who already own full Windows XP or Windows Vista licenses.