Clean Install From Upgrade Vista

How to Do a Clean Install of Vista with a Upgrade Version
This will show you how to do a CLEAN install with a Express or Retail Upgrade Version of Vista instead of having to install your previous OS (EX: XP) then Vista. This will prevent compatibility issues between the previous OS and Vista.
How to Do a Clean Install with a Upgrade Version of Vista

information   Information
This will show you how to do a CLEAN install with a Express or Retail Upgrade version of Vista instead of having to install your previous OS (EX: XP) then Vista. This will prevent compatibility issues between the previous OS and Vista.

Note   Note

  • A OEM Recovery installation DVD can only do a clean install. It is just a clone of the hard drive that will set your computer back like it was from day one. The installation process is basically the same though.
  • A Express or Retail Vista can be installed on any one computer at a time for as many times as you like. A OEM Vista may only be able to be installed on the exact same computer as many times as you like. The product key number for the Vista 32 bit version is the same one for it's 64 bit version. You can only have the Product Key activated on one computer and version of 32 bit or 64 bit Vista at a time. See: Microsoft: License Terms for Software Licensed from Microsoft
  • Sometimes people have problems installing Vista with more than 2 GB of RAM installed. If you have this problem, then you should install Vista with a maximum of 2GB of RAM installed and add the rest of the RAM after Vista is fully installed.
Some Common Installation Problems:

Windows Help and Support: KB935806 Troubleshooting Stop error messages that may occur when you try to install Windows Vista


Windows Help and Support: KB929777 Error message when you try to install Windows Vista on a computer that uses more than 3 GB of RAM: "STOP 0x0000000A"

warning   Warning

  • If you do not have a legal copy of XP with your corresponding or better Upgrade Vista, then you have violated the EULA and it is considered theft which you may face prosecution for. For the license terms for Vista, see: Microsoft: License Terms for Software Licensed from Microsoft
  • You can upgrade from your current edition of Microsoft Windows XP to a corresponding or better edition of Windows Vista by purchasing and installing an upgrade copy of Windows Vista. Go to this link for details on corresponding versions: Windows Vista: Upgrade Paths from Previous Versions
Tip   Tip
MINIMUM SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS FOR VISTANOTE: For more information, see: Microsoft Windows Vista: Recommended System Requirements

Vista Home Basic
  • Processor: 1GHz (32 or 64 bit)
  • System Memory (RAM): 512MB
  • Hard Drive: 20GB with 15GB available for Vista
  • Video Card: 32MB Memory and DirectX 9 Support
  • DVD-ROM Drive
Vista Home Premium, Business, or Ultimate
  • Processor: 1GHz (32 or 64 bit)
  • System Memory (RAM): 1GB
  • Hard Drive: 40GB with 15GB available for Vista
  • Video Card: 128MB Memory, DirectX 9 Support with: WDDM Driver, Pixel Shader 2.0, 32bits per pixel
  • DVD-ROM Drive


warning   Warning
Before doing this clean install, you should download and save all of your device drivers to a USB flash drive, another HDD\partition, DVD, or some other media, to have them handy to make setting Vista back up easier after installation.

1. Boot the computer from your Vista Upgrade installation DVD.
NOTE: Make sure that the CD/DVD drive is selected first in the boot order in the BIOS.
2. When prompted, press any key to start Vista from the installation DVD. (See screenshot below)​
NOTE: You will only have about 8 seconds to press this key. If you miss it, you will have to restart the computer.

3. Set up your language preferences and click on Next. (See screeshot below).​

4. Click on Install Now to start the installation. (See screenshot below)​

5. Select Do not get the latest updates for installation. (See screenshot below)​

6. Do not type in a product key. (See screenshot below)​
7. Leave the Automatically activate Windows when I'm online box unchecked.​
8. Click on Next.​

9. Click on the No button for the Do you want to enter your product key now? prompt. (See screenshot below)​

10. Select which version of Vista you have. (See screenshot below)​
11. Check I have selected the edition of Windows that I purchased and click on Next. (See screenshot below)​

12. Click on Custom (advanced). (See screenshot below)​

13. Select the hard drive you want to install Vista on and click on Drive Options (advanced). (See screenshot below)​

14. Click on Format to format the hard drive. (See screenshot below)​
NOTE: If you have more than one partition on this hard drive and want to get rid of it to make one big drive, then click Delete for each partition. Now click on New and adjust the partition size to what you want, then click on Format.
15. Click on Next when it is done formating the hard drive.​

16. Follow any instructions left until Vista is finished installing and has rebooted to the final welcome screen on the Vista desktop.​


17. When this first install is done, run the Vista Upgrade installation again from within the First Install (STEP ONE) of Vista this time.​
WARNING: Do not boot from the Vista DVD this time. Leave the Vista installation DVD in the CD/DVD drive.
A) Click on Computer in the Start menu.​
B) Click on the DVD drive to open a window with the DVD files.​
C) Click on Setup to start the 2nd install.​
D) Repeat steps 4 and 5 above.​

18. This time, type in your product key for Vista and click Next. (See screenshot below step 8)​
NOTE: If you are upgrading from Vista to another version of Vista, then type in the product key for the new version.
19. Leave the Automatically activate Windows when I'm online box unchecked. (See screenshot below step 8)​
20. Check the I accept the license terms box. (See screenshot below step 21)​
21. Click on Next.​

22. This time, click on the Upgrade option. (See screenshot below)​

23. To setup Vista, see the STEP TWO section here: How to Do a Clean Install with a Full Version of Vista
24. Remove the Vista installation DVD.​
25. Run Disk Cleanup.​
A) Check Files discarded by Windows upgrade. (See screenshot below)​
NOTE: These will be the leftover upgrade files, C:\$INPLACE.~TR and C:\$WINDOWS.~Q, that did not get copied over.
B) Click on OK to delete it.​

26. Update your WEI score.​
27. Now all you need to do is to activate Vista.​
A) Right click Computer (Start Menu) and click Properties, or open the Control Panel (Classic View) and click on the System icon.​
B) Scroll down a bit and click: Activate Windows Now. (See screenshot below)​

NOTE: Now you have a clean install of the Upgrade version with no remnants of XP, or previous OS, to mess you up later.

That's it,



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Ngai Tahu/Tau Iwi
Vista Guru
HI, i just rushed out and purchased vista home premium upgrade and only read the minimum system requirements and did not see the 128mb video (i only have 64mb of graphics) how will this affect my installation (HELP PLEASE)


Staff member
Hello Mitchell,

You will still be able to install Vista without any problems, but with only 64MB of graphics memory you will not have the Windows Aero features and color scheme enabled. Instead, you will be using the Windows Basic color scheme.

Hope this helps,


Ngai Tahu/Tau Iwi
Vista Guru
oh thats great, lived without aero so far and would probably disable it anyway. thanks so much for your help shawn . take care and all the best


Staff member
You're welcome Mitchell.

Well, there is that other issue with not to many games running great either with it though. ;)


Power User
Hi Brink,

Is there a tutorial like this in the 7 forums yet? (I couldn't find it...of course i know the upgrade disk isn't out yet.) I presume it will work the same? Just don't enter the key or activate through the installation...


Vista Guru
Gold Member
Hi dustin,

At this point, we believe it will be exactly the same for the 7 Upgrade discs.

There are other ways to clean install with the Upgrade disc - you just need a dvd /cd with a copy of 2000 or XP or Vista.

When the 7 installer asks for a qualifying version of Windows - just pop the cd/dvd in the drive - it will accept that.


Staff member
Hi Dustin,

Yes, I agree with SIW that it will most likely be the same method as with Vista since everything else seems to be so far. I can't create a tutorial for it quite yet though until I can get my hands on a upgrade version of Windows 7 to confirm it.


Ngai Tahu/Tau Iwi
Vista Guru
You're welcome Mitchell.

Well, there is that other issue with not to many games running great either with it though. ;)

sorry took a while to get back, thank you for the tut it worked brillantly aero does work fine just in case you wondered but now i know it does i will turn it off and i am not a gamer so no probs there so summary: i now have an installion disk with SP1 and i dont have to spend hours uninstalling complementary bloataware that comes with a recovery disk. Once again thankyou Shawn for your time and dedication given to helping others.:D


New Member
I want to give you a great big THANK YOU!!!!!;) If it wasn't for you I probably would have booted the computer down the stairs.... The clean install worked very well... Thankyou again...



New Member
Hi Brink,

Not sure if this is already answered in the post - I've trawled through but anyway just a quickie.

I have vista home premium on an acer laptop which has decided to have a hissy fit and gives me BSOD every boot - safe mode, last known good config etc.
I've tried the recovery disk (downloaded from neosmart i think).
I've pulled all the important files off using puppy linux.

I've spoke to MS who have directed me to Acer for recovery disks but to be honest I'm losing money by the hour because I'm self-employed. Thus I am willing to fork out the 80GBP to download the Vista Home Prem upgrade SP1 (with a free copy of Windows 7 when it arrives on 22/10).

My question is, becuase I can't boot the system and the current Vista is corrupt am I going to run into any problems doing the clean install. I know there was a previous thought that one needed to run the upgrade from within the booted OS, but I'm right in presuming thats wrong.... right?

Basically I don't want to have to fork out 80GBP for the upgrade only to find that I should have forked out 160GBP for the full version.

Many thanks in advance.



Staff member
Hello Tobe, and welcome to Vista Forums.

Have you already tried doing a factory restore from the hard drive recovery partition at boot to see you may be able to reinstall Vista this way? For Acer, you would tap F10 every second during boot to enter the recovery manager. You can scroll down to Q7 in the link below for more details on how to do a factory recovery though.

Acer Service & Support

As long as this is a retail copy of Vista and not a OEM (Acer) or Anytime Upgrade Vista, then you should be able to boot from the retail DVD as in the tutorial to completely format the hard drive and install it.

You would only run into a problem booting from the retail Vista if you have some sort hardware or BIOS issue, and not just a corrupted current install.


New Member
Hi Brink and thanks for coming back so quick.

I have a problem with the Acer erecovery system - my laptop failed about 2 months ago and Vista was reinstalled by a repair centre, but no partition was made etc. It is not an option to go back to the repair centre unfortunately.

I'm plannig to purchase vista from ;

Buy, download Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 Upgrade from Microsoft Store UK

I assume that this will do the trick.

Regarding the hardware/bios issue, I can access the hard drive using Puppy Linux so I assuming that the HD is ok. I haven't had any other problems other than screen flicker but thats a separate issue thats now resolved.

Again many thanks Brink.



Staff member
You're welcome Tobe.

Yep, that is a retail (RTM) copy of Vista, so you can get the upgrade version and do the tutorial to do a clean install without a problem. :)


New Member
Hi Brink,
I have Vista Business on my Desk Top. I purchased a Windows 7 Home premium Upgrade Family pack. I know that I cannot do a upgrade from Vista Business to Windows 7 Home premium. Can I do a clean install with this upgrade Windows 7 Home premium DVD??