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July 19, 2010

Windows 7 upgrade tip

Do you currently have Windows Vista? Are you thinking of upgrading to Windows 7 because Vista's a piece of junk?

If so, keep something in mind, something that we figured out the hard way. In hindsight, it's kind of obvious, but it's something you might not think about when you're choosing whether to buy the full version of Windows 7 or the Upgrade version.

We pre-ordered the Upgrade version back in the summer when Amazon (and perhaps other venues) were offering it for $50. We had it sent to my folks' house because of the shipping, and because it wasn't *that* urgent. When I got back from my Christmas vacation back home, I went ahead and installed it on our Vista computer.

Six months later, something reached up and bit us in the ass.

Our computer was beginning to die, so we went ahead and bought another one. This time, we bought it from Generic Computer, an awesome computer store here in Vancouver. You can basically build your own computer there, and it has the side benefit of being easy to upgrade. The innards aren't like a Chinese puzzle-box when you try to just put in some more RAM.

Anyway, you can have them include Windows 7 on the machine for $119, but we figured "hell, we already have it! We don't need to spend the money."

You might be able to guess where this is going.

They went ahead and installed Windows 7 with their own product key, and all we would have to do is change the product key to ours when we got it home. This activation would keep Windows 7 running (if you don't activate it within a month, then you lose almost all Windows functionality).

I enter the product key. Whoops! This is an upgrade product key. It won't work on a new install. There's no way Generic was going to install Vista and *then* install Windows 7, just so we could then use our upgraded version. They probably don't even have Windows Vista anyway (who in their right mind would?)

So lesson learned. We went out and bought a full version of Windows 7 so that we could activate the version that's on our computer now.

The only way you'll be able to avoid this problem is to buy your machines from stores like Best Buy, Future Shop, etc, where Windows 7 is already pre-installed. If that's what you do, then you're fine, though you'll never have a use for your Upgrade version of Windows 7 again once you do it the first time. But if you buy your computers from computer shops, then be warned. Make sure you have the full version.

I have a feeling Windows 7 is going to be around for quite a while, so at least we'll have this version for when we buy our next computer in 3 years or so.

Thank heavens for small favours.


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