Microsoft is clarifying what the company says is a LEGAL upgrade process is for upgarding to Windows 7, contrary to the opinions expressed by some on the Internet. This is not a new situation, in that we seem to run into this brick wall with each Windows release. This unfortunate situation seems to rear its ugly head because of the lack of clarity of the EULA [End User License Agreement] that accompanies all software. If anyone has ever taken the time to read any EULA you will come away shaking your head.

I am not presenting this information in an attempt to determine what the legality is, nor to try to explain how the EULA impacts all of us. I am just passing on the information that Microsoft has presented on their blog site and you can decide how this may have an affect on which version of Windows 7 you buy, whether it be an upgrade or full version.

Here is what Microsoft has to say:

First, the feedback, excitement, etc. we’ve been seeing since the launch of Windows 7 last week has been phenomenal! Thank you to all of you for providing your feedback to us to let us know how your Windows 7 experience is going.

Unfortunately, it looks like it is time to have this conversation again though. Over the past several days there have been various posts, etc. across a variety of social media engines stating that some “hack” (be it a person or a procedure) shows that a Windows 7 Upgrade disc can perform a “clean” installation of Windows 7 on a blank drive from a technical perspective. Of course, from the posts I saw, they often forgot to mention a very basic, yet very important piece of information… “Technically possible” does not always mean legal. Let me explain what I mean:

Here are some very basic facts:

  1. When you purchase software, you are purchasing the rights to run the software according to the terms of the End User License Agreement (EULA) that comes with that software.
  2. When you install that software, you are agreeing to the terms included in the EULA you purchased.
    • a. For instance, in the Windows 7 EULA it states, “By using the software, you accept these terms. If you do not accept them, do not use the software. Instead, return it to the retailer for a refund or credit.”
  3. When you purchase an Upgrade license, the included EULA states that you must already own a qualifying full license to upgrade from in order to use the Upgrade license, hence the term “Upgrade.”
    • a. For instance, in the Windows 7 EULA it states, “To use upgrade software, you must first be licensed for the software that is eligible for the upgrade.”

To put it simply, here is a graphical representation of what this means:

General Example
 
Example with Product Names
image 
 
image 
In stark contrast to:
General Example
 
Example with Product Names
 image 
 
 image 

So 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 the installation, they give the impression that because it is technically possible, it is legal to do. Unfortunately, by doing this, they irresponsibly put end users at risk of loading unlicensed software. Because of this, I am putting this post up to try and clarify the truth behind what an upgrade license is and provides so that hopefully people will not find themselves misled by some of these other posts and articles that may mislead them to believe something that is very wrong due to their lack of inclusion of this important piece of information.  If the posts or write-ups you saw did include this information, then kudos to that writer for providing the accurate information.

Now there are many, many, many, many of you out there that already own Windows licenses that qualify for the Windows 7 Upgrade, so this is a non-issue for you.  (I am talking about people who own a FULL license for a previous version of Windows for their computers already, as shown in the first picture example above.)  For you, since you have the previous version FULL Windows license and qualify for the Windows 7 Upgrade, you have the rights to do a “clean” install.

For those of you without an existing FULL Windows license to upgrade from, you should be aware that an Upgrade license by itself is not a license to install and run Windows on your computer. (As an FYI, those who don’t own a full previous version Windows license, as in the second row of picture examples above, and just downloaded the Windows 7 Beta, RC, or RTM code during the trial phases, the Windows 7 Beta, RC, and RTM trials are not qualifying licenses for the upgrade since they are just trial software, not fully licensed software.) In order to be eligible to use the Windows 7 upgrade, you need to have a qualifying license to upgrade from. Again, that’s why it is called an “upgrade.” For you, Windows 7 is available pre-installed on PCs around the world today, or you can purchase a full Windows license from one of the many Microsoft Partners we have, or you can download it today.  You might also want to check out some of the great “7 days of Windows 7 deals” going on right now, such as the “PC home makeover” offer that gets you a laptop, a netbook, and a desktop PC (all three with Windows 7 installed), plus a monitor, and wireless router, all for just $1,199!

I hope this helps clear up any confusion over what an “Upgrade” really is and is not and who qualifies to install and use an upgrade license in their move to Windows 7.

And please remember, No, OEM Microsoft Windows licenses cannot be transferred to another PC, in case you were wondering if an old OEM Windows license you have laying around or on another PC could qualify for the Windows 7 upgrade on a different PC.

Thank you and have a wonderful day,

Again the specifics of what qualifies as an upgrade is spelled out in the opinion above. You may agree or disagree with what Microsoft presents. Let us not shoot the messenger please.

Comments welcome.

Microsoft blog source.