I had never tried the upgrade process from XP to Vista because all of the pre-release editions I played with were all full versions. For that reason I would just do a clean install on my system because we all know that upgrades never seem to go as smooth as you would like them to.

One would have thought that anyone purchasing an upgrade version of Vista would simply be able to enter in their serial number from Windows XP during the installation process, but this is not the case at all. Microsoft actually requires that you have Windows installed previous to doing the upgrade, and that you actually run the installation process from within Windows.

So what does that mean for all of you who want to do a clean install with the upgrade DVD that you just purchased? Actually, there is a workaround that was found by Paul Thurrott which will let you perform a clean install with needing to upgrade from XP.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Boot into the Windows Vista setup by inserting the DVD, and when presented with the serial number screen just press Next (leaving the serial field blank).
    Vista Setup
  2. Choose the copy of Vista that you purchased and continue to perform a clean install.
    Vista Setup
  3. Once the installation is complete you will need to restart the process over again but from within Vista. When prompted for the serial number this time make sure you enter in your Vista Upgrade serial number that you received with your purchase.
    Vista Setup
  4. Now when prompted to Upgrade or Custom install, choose the Custom (advanced) option. You’ll be installing Vista for the second time but this is the only way to truly do a clean install of Vista using an upgrade DVD.
  5. Optional: Since the installation was started from within Windows, you’ll still have a Windows.old folder on your drive that can be deleted after the installation is done.

Yes, this is quite a pain in the butt and I’m a little disappointed that people have to go through such long measures to get a clean installation done. Why couldn’t someone upgrading either enter in the Windows XP serial or insert their Windows XP installation CD during the installation process. Sure some people would try to use pirated keys or burned CD’s in order to get around having to purchase full versions, but it would have been worth it for the sanity it would have saved people.

Actually, if you think about it anyone could do this trick without having owned a previous versions of Windows. You could just purchase the upgrade version (even without owning Windows XP) as long as you don’t mind going through the setup process twice. Oh well, onto the next version of Windows…

Read our Windows Vista Review

News Source: DailyTech (they confirmed that this works)