If I buy a retail upgrade version, what’s in the box?
You get two DVDs, one 32-bit, one 64-bit. You get a single product key, which you can use to install either version. If you buy the Family Pack, you also get those two DVDs and a single product key, which can be used to activate three PCs in your household.
Is the upgrade DVD bootable?
Yes. In fact, as far as I can tell it is absolutely identical to the full version.
So what’s the difference between the full and upgrade versions?
It’s all about the product key. When you enter the product key, the setup program checks to see whether you installed the product on a clean system that didn’t previously have any version of Windows installed. If the answer is yes, it blocks you from entering that key. Here’s the confusing error message you’ll see:
See, what's still not explained is what I plan to do. I'll pull my current boot drive - or move it from being C: drive - and install my Win7 onto a fresh drive. Will the Upgrade version of Win7 allow me to tell it there's a genuine copy of WinXP "over on that drive" without needing to find it and destroy it on C:? When I install Windows, I don't want a giant file created with all my stuff on it, I want a clean install.
This was never a problem with my Upgrade copy of WinXP - I installed it wherever I wanted and popped in the Win95 CD so it could see I had a good copy.
To install Windows on a separate partition or hard disk:
Before installing Windows, be sure to disable all antivirus software and back up your files to an external hard disk, a CD, a DVD, a USB flash drive, or a network folder. Also, find your 25-character Windows product key. You can find it on the installation disc holder inside the Windows package—or in a confirmation e‑mail if you purchased and downloaded Windows 7 online.
1.Turn on your computer.
2.After your current version of Windows starts, do one of the following:
•If you purchased and downloaded Windows 7 online, open the installation file.
•If you have a Windows 7 installation disc, insert the disc into your computer. Setup should start automatically. If it doesn't, click the Start button, click Computer, double-click your DVD drive to open the Windows 7 installation disc, and then double-click setup.exe.
3.On the Install Windows menu, click Install now.
4.On the Get important updates for installation page, we recommend getting the latest updates to help ensure a successful installation and to help protect your computer against security threats. You must be connected to the Internet to receive installation updates. This page might not appear if your computer is not connected to the Internet.
5.On the Please read the license terms page, if you accept the license terms, click I accept the license terms.
6.On the Which type of installation do you want? page, click Custom.
7.On the Where do you want to install Windows? page, select the partition or disk where you want to install the new Windows operating system. Be sure to install Windows on a different partition from the one where the earlier version of Windows is installed.
8.Click Next to begin the installation. You might see a compatibility report.
If you are going to install on a new drive, just follow the guide supplied by Jim937, W7 will detect the XP instalation and ask where you want to install without touching the XP partition.
I left my Vista instalation on C and W7 installed on F (I have 4 drives) unlike the W7 RC, which had made the W7 instalation C drive and changed the drive letter on Vista.
I think this approach is better and less confusing for the less experianced user.
I re-install Windows every 18 months or so just to clean it up. And what I usually do is disconnect all my drives except the blank one I'm putting the new system on, usually plugging one in later to gain access to the drivers. Windows sometimes decides to search ALL the drives connected which can take a long time, so I usually present it with a single target.