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In place upgrade from Vista Home Premium to Windows 7 Professional

I have no idea why Microsoft insists on a clean install when upgrading from Microsoft Vista Home Premium to Microsoft Windows 7 Professional. In fact, I don’t really care. I want to do an in-place upgrade. I’m a busy person and don’t have time to dick around for 8-12 hours installing, moving files, moving settings, and reinstalling all my applications. Using a little ingeniuity – i.e. hacking – I was able to do:

  • an in-place upgrade to Ultimate,
  • a downgrade to Professional,
  • and an activation for Professional

If you are like me, you purchased the Windows 7 Professional ‘upgrade,’ so you have media and a product key. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Hack your install media. It turns out that every edition is included on every installer disk. So no matter what edition you have, you have a full install Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate.  To unlock the capability, create an ISO image of your Windows 7 Professional disk. There are multiple utilities for doing this, most of them are free, use Google to find one. Once you have made the image, convert it to an Ultimate Installer disk using the Windows ISO Image Edition Switcher utility.
  2. Now mount the ISO image and begin the install. Again, there are lot of free utilities for mounting ISO images. Use whatever works for you. (Google)
  3. When you have the option, choose to do an upgrade install. Window 7 Ultimate allows you to upgrade in-place from just about any other edition.
  4. After a few hours, you will have a working version of Windows 7 Ultimate. The problem is, it isn’t activated and you have a Windows 7 Professional product key. You cannot activate Ultimate using this key. You need to take the next step – downgrade it.
  5. Use regedit.exe and go to \\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\Current Version hive.
  6. Change the key ‘EditionID’ key from ‘Ultimate’ to ‘Professional’
  7. Change the ‘Product Name’ key from ‘Windows 7 Ultimate’ to ‘Windows 7 Professional’
  8. Now, using your upgrade media (not the ISO) run another install and choose to upgrade.
  9. Several hours later you will have Window 7 Professional.
  10. Now, activate it using your product key. ALL DONE!

Update: an alternative to the above that can save a lot of time: Chris writes (in comments below:)

I had Vista Home Premium (32bit), I made a 7 Home premium disk (from my 7 Pro) and made an in place upgrade. After install, I did not enter a key but went to desktop and did the Anytime Upgrade. I chose that I already had a key, as I have a 7 Pro key already. I entered the key and within 15 minutes, I had a fully activated 7 Pro without losing my settings, programs, etc., etc.

You should do this instead, it will save you several hours!

11 Comments

  1. JHPArizona wrote:

    Thanks so much for posting this. I had a customer that needed to upgrade to Professional for a new application. I was so concerned about the drivers that I had forgotten about the Windows 7 upgrade path. I tested the drives with a RC version of Win 7 Ultimate and had no problems. The upgrade disk the customer had already bought was Professional and after confirming the drivers were good, I broke the seal only to be greeted with the message that I could not go from Vista Home Premium to 7 Professional as an upgrade. Had I found this site earlier I could have saved a great deal of time by not restoring the Vista partition and just done the Anytime upgrade. But at any rate, it did work with the help of this site.

    Thanks so much, Jim

    Monday, October 17, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Permalink
  2. Jimbo wrote:

    I am SO glad I stumbled across this page. Bachir’s method totally works, exactly has he presented it! To resolve any confusion there might be due to follow-on comments regarding Bachir’s method and how to change the registry, here’s exactly what I did in order to EASILY upgrade from Windows Vista Home Premium(64 bit version) to Windows 7 Professional (64 bit version) using the Windows 7 Professional Upgrade DVD:

    1. Click on start button and type “regedit” into the search box at the bottom of the window. Then, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\Current Version

    2. Change the key “EditionID” to “Business” (mine was “HomePremium”).

    3. Change the “ProductName” to “Business” (mine was “Windows Vista (TM) Home Premium”, replace the entire entry with the word “Business”).

    That’s it. Now, insert the Windows 7 Professional Upgrade DVD into your disk drive and follow the prompts to upgrade.

    In my case, I was sure something was wrong initially because it seemed like it took a long time while “checking compatibility.” But I just let it go and it finally finished that compatibility check and prompted me to move on with the rest of the install. It took about 1 1/2 hours from that point to complete the process. All of my existing programs and data were there when I was done and I’m now running Windows 7 Professional without any issues.

    One standard word of caution, it is always a good idea to backup your registry before editing it using regedit. You can do this by creating a restore point before proceeding with step 1 above.

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 6:09 am | Permalink
  3. mick wrote:

    Mega-thanks for the Bachir method that I followed – as ably paraphrased above by Jimbo – for simplifying my Vista to Win 7 upgrade weekend which could have been much longer!

    First attempt failed with good old Error 0x80070017 which I fixed by downloading a second time and then burning a DVD-R (not a DVD-RW!) more slowly at 4x speed.

    Second attempt – a clean install – failed with “This version of Windows could not be installed” which led me to hunt down the whole Vista Home Premium to Windows 7 Professional upgrade nightmare which you folks have so admirably documented and worked around in this thread.

    Third attempt succeeded thanks to you all, although it does take a while as someone warned, and with the huge huge benefit of an upgrade over a custom install of not having to reinstall all those pesky applications.

    Cheers!
    mick

    Monday, January 16, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Permalink
  4. Gareth wrote:

    Hi

    WUB & DH seem to have got the simplest method if I have understood correctly. An upgrade from Vista Home premium is only comapatible with Windows 7 Home premium or Ultimate.

    Therefore obtain a copy of Windows 7 Home Premium which is freely available. Upgrade to Windows 7 Home premium from Windows Vista Home Premium. Let the system do its thing. Go into the new Windows 7 install & Do not enter the regristration code. Then run the anytime upgrade and enter the code that you have for Windows 7 Professional and the system should now update to that.

    Or am I missing something? About to follow this procees on a Sony Vaio which uses rescue disks, so hope it works as restoring the system is painfully long

    Gareth

    Monday, June 25, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Permalink
  5. Gareth wrote:

    One question following my previous posting which having re-read the earlier posting from Chris, do I need to have all the updates of Windows Vista loaded and is there ay differance between using windows 7 with SP1

    Thanks

    Gareth

    Monday, June 25, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Permalink
  6. Dimrill Dell wrote:

    Can you upgrade from an OEM version of Windows 7 Professional using the clever procedures described in this thread?

    The OEM version is available at a much cheaper price than the retail or upgrade versions.

    Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 12:17 am | Permalink
  7. David wrote:

    I did the upgrade from Vista Home Premium to Win 7 Home premium (with the ei.cfg mod) and then the anytime upgrade to Win 7 Pro with the activation code I purchased. Worked like a charm. Took quite awhile (~2hrs) for the win7 pro upgrade (it had to download and install 75 patches), but nothing like the time it took to do the Win7 Home Premium upgrade which was more than 12 hours.

    Thursday, January 10, 2013 at 5:11 pm | Permalink
  8. Scott wrote:

    VERY excited to see this potential workaround. Got a client that has XP Pro and a Windows 7 Professional (32) upgrade. Have to install Vista Basic first (doctor’s office, programs that can’t be reinstalled, in-place upgrade only option).

    When running the patcher, I’m also getting the “Unexpected target file size” error. Tried creating ISO’s with both CD Burner XP and IMGBurn. Different size ISO’s (by about 2MB), both give the same error. Also tried both Ultimate and Pro patch files, same thing. Downloading a direct-ISO file from http://techpp.com/2009/11/11/download-windows-7-iso-official-direct-download-links/ …hoping that version lets me patch. If not, any ideas?

    Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 9:25 pm | Permalink
  9. tomahawk wrote:

    BACHIR!!! Your way still works in 2015, amazing!

    Thanks, brother.

    tom
    —–

    Thursday, September 24, 2015 at 4:54 am | Permalink
  10. Warren Geq wrote:

    I used Bachir’s technique (comment 18) with modifications by KJQ (35) and Jerako (50) and it worked like a charm. Definitively the easiest technique with the need to do only a single upgrade.

    By only addition, to be safe, is to consider to Export of the Current Version registry hive (right-click Current Version, select Export, and save the registry entry) both before and after making the registry edits (using different filenames). You can then restore the original entries (or reenter the edits) by just double-clicking the relevant registry file.

    Thanks to all.

    Tuesday, October 6, 2015 at 8:39 am | Permalink
  11. mark wrote:

    Perfect: This really works!

    Sunday, April 24, 2016 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

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