Causes and Solutions if Windows Anytime Upgrade Not Working

Written by:  Donna Buenaventura • Edited by: Christian Cawley
Updated May 25, 2011
• Related Guides: Windows 7 | Windows 7 Upgrade | Windows Vista

Windows Vista Anytime Upgrade is no longer available. Microsoft recommends upgrading to Windows 7 from XP or Vista. If Windows Anytime Upgrade is not working, you should determine the cause and solutions before upgrading to Windows 7.

Windows 7 Anytime Upgrade

Windows Anytime Upgrade Not Working? Windows Anytime Upgrade (WAU) is a process of performing an upgrade of a currently installed operating system to a newer system -- Windows 7. Upgrading to Windows 7 let users enjoy the new features and application improvements in Windows, including added security features when browsing and installing software.

The requirement in using Windows Anytime Upgrade is simple: the installation of Windows 7 must be run on top of the existing version of Windows Vista or a lower version of Windows 7.

To use Windows Anytime Upgrade, click on the Start button or type Windows Anytime Upgrade in the search box, and then clicking Windows Anytime Upgrade in the list of results.

Note: Windows Vista Anytime Upgrade is no longer available. The only upgrade option is to upgrade to Windows 7.

Problems Using Windows Anytime Upgrade?

End-users that tries to upgrade Windows XP and Vista to Windows 7 may find Windows Anytime Upgrade not working, if any of the below scenarios is true:

  • Fresh install of Windows 7 using an upgrade product key - It is not allowed to enter a product key that was assigned as "upgrade" license key. An upgrade product key must be entered in upgrade-install (from earlier Vista or lower edition of Windows 7 to Windows 7 and higher edition of Windows 7, respectively). To solve the problem, logon to currently installed Windows, and then start installing Windows 7.
  • The upgrade product key is invalid - the product keys to upgrade to Windows 7 using Windows Anytime Upgrade is checked against the database of Microsoft. If the upgrade product key has been compromised, you won't be able to activate Windows thus the upgrade fails because you will find yourself receiving a message for non-genuine copy of Windows. To solve the problem, use a retail or full package product key for Windows 7.
  • The upgrade product key has been activated - You cannot use a single license upgrade product key to install and activate in more than one computer. You can buy additional upgrades through the Windows Anytime Upgrade online purchase process or by getting a Windows Anytime Upgrade key at an electronics store.

Compatibility Issues

There are also issues of compatibility both with your hardware and your software that might impede attempts to install Windows Anytime Upgrades:

  • Compatibility issues - Windows 7 installation checks for hardware or drive compatibility. If the computer has incompatible software or driver, the upgrade will not proceed. To solve the problem, run Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor application to check which software or driver is incompatible to Windows 7. If any drivers require an update, you can visit Windows 7 Compatibility Center to download any drivers that the installation disc of Windows do not provide or offer. You should also check with the manufacturer's website to download new driver or software that is compatible to Windows 7.
  • Service Pack for Vista is not installed - It's recommended to run Windows Anytime Upgrade in Vista SP1 or SP2.
  • Internet connection is turned-off - Upgrading to Windows 7 requires Internet connection to download installation updates.
  • Antivirus and Third-party firewall program is enabled - Antivirus or anti-malware program and third-party firewall may interfere with the installation of Windows 7 during the upgrade process. Temporary turn-off the security tools and re-enable only after the install process has finished.

Other Reasons Why Windows Anytime Upgrade is Not Working

There are other things to note before you decide to run the Windows Anytime Upgrade installation:Windows Anytime Upgrade is Not Available in Your Location 

  • Upgrading from 32-bit edition of Windows to 64-bit edition - You can't upgrade from a 32-bit version to a 64-bit version with Windows Anytime Upgrade. To solve the problem, choose to upgrade to the same architecture of installed operating system. If you prefer using 64-bit edition, fresh install Windows 7.
  • Different language of Windows - You cannot use Windows Anytime Upgrade if the existing OS is using another language. Ensure that you are upgrading to Windows 7 Ultimate that you can install using any language of your choice and switch between any of 35 languages. If you prefer using Windows 7 Home Premium or Professional, re-download the setup.exe of Windows 7 with the same language as installed Windows Vista.
  • The existing OS is not activated - To use Windows Anytime Upgrade, your computer must be running an activated copy of Windows Vista or Windows 7.
  • Upgrading the same version of Windows 7 - Windows Anytime Upgrade is available in all editions of Windows 7 except Ultimate.

Image credit: WAU logo

Version Restrictions Preventing Windows Anytime Upgrade

You should finally keep in mind the following restrictions on Windows Anytime Upgrade, which may also have an impact on your plans:

  • Upgrading to lower edition of Windows - Vista Ultimate customers cannot upgrade to Home Premium and Professional editions of Windows 7. You need to upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate.
  • You are using Windows XP - Windows Anytime Upgrade is not possible to use in Windows XP system. To solve the problem, fresh install Windows 7 by booting the PC using Windows 7installation DVD. Take advantage of Windows Easy Transfer before running a custom install of Windows 7.
  • Corrupted download - If you've downloaded Windows 7 files onto USB flash drive or in the local hard-disk, but the setup.exe will not run or display an error, the download is maybe corrupted. Re-download the setup.exe file by clicking the download link in the email you received when you purchased Windows 7 upgrade license.
  • Damaged Windows 7 installation disc - If you order Windows Anytime Upgrade DVD but the setup.exe will not run, report, return and request for replacement disc.
  • You cannot purchase Windows Anytime Upgrade - purchasing a WAU product key online is only available to some countries (see image at the right which country is using Microsoft Store). To solve the problem, purchase a retail or OEM package of WAU.
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