Just a month or so ago now I received my shiny new MacBook Pro. While the matter of a long-time Microsoft fan selling out his soul so easily is the subject for another day, it is worth mentioning that I did not (indeed could not!) ditch the Windows operating system. My initial thoughts were fairly optimistic – all Macs now come with a utility called Boot Camp, which provides official support for installing a full copy of Windows alongside the existing OS X installation.
My problems, however, began when I started to read the Boot Camp installation guide. To my horror, in a clear notice in the guide, I was told that only a full installation disk for Windows can be used to install a Boot Camp (Windows) partition on the machine. Now, having long used Windows Vista on a previous laptop (which I was in the process of retiring), and given my purchase of a Windows 7 Ultimate upgrade disk less than a year earlier, I was most reluctant to shell out another larger sum of cash just to get Windows 7 running on my MacBook Pro. As it happens, my stubbornness insisted that I proceed with the Boot Camp installation anyway. (A few quickly researched articles online seemed to suggest I might have luck doing this.) In fact, I managed to use the upgrade disk to get as far as the verification code screen in the setup, before I decided things weren’t going to happen. Long story short: I played around with things for a while, eventually found a Microsoft support number to call, and had a very helpful and knowledgeable support technician guide me through the end of the installation and activation process.
As there appears to be minimal information regarding this process online, I thought I would post a short set of instructions here for all who are interested. Myself, I was much reassured to know that it is possible to make a clean installation of Windows (7) from an upgrade disk and activate the copy. While I have not tried the process on a machine other than my MacBook / outside of Boot Camp, I was reliabily informed that the process is no different. These are the steps to follow:
- Insert the Windows Upgrade disk.
- Follow the setup wizard and select the “clean install” option.
- Windows should proceed to install successfully, and after a few reboots, you will reach the license key screen.
- Leave the box for the license key blank and continue.
- The installation should complete and you should be able to temporarily use Windows in “trial” mode (unactivated license).
- Reboot the machine with the upgrade disk still in the drive.
- When the setup screen loads, now select the “upgrade” option.
- The setup should proceed to perform an “upgrade”. In fact, you are just “upgrading” Windows 7 to Windows 7 (in my case) – this is required for the sake of license activation.
- When the upgrade process completes, log on to your administrator account.
- Open the Computer Properties window (Control Panel\System and Security\System).
- At the bottom of the page is the Windows activation section. Select the “Change product key” option.
- Enter the product key for your Windows Upgrade disk, and voila, you should have a full licensed copy of Windows in your machine.
- (If the previous activation step did not work, try the phone activation upon failure, which is virtually guaranteed to succeed.)
While this process is somewhat non-intuitive and poorly documented, it is nonetheless quite possible. (I suspect there may be a loophole that allows customers of only upgrade disks to install full licensed versions of Windows, which explains the lack of information on the matter.) Either way, I hope this short guide helps save others the moderate amount of pain and trouble I had trying to work around this issue myself! I would be pleased to hear of any other success stories.