Windows 7 installation problems: frequently asked questions

Here are some answers to common questions about installing Windows 7.

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How do I upgrade my computer from my current version of Windows to Windows 7?

For more information, including which versions of Windows can be upgraded to Windows 7, go to Upgrading to Windows 7: frequently asked questions on the Windows website.

For step-by-step tutorials, go to Upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7 and Upgrading from Windows Vista to Windows 7 on the Windows website.

Why can't I install the 64-bit version of Windows 7?

If you receive an error message when trying to install a 64-bit version of Windows, your computer's central processing unit (CPU) might not be capable of running a 64-bit version of Windows. For more information, see 32-bit and 64-bit Windows: frequently asked questions.

If your CPU is capable of running a 64-bit version of Windows, but your computer is currently running a 32-bit version of Windows, you need to start, or boot, your computer using the Windows 7 installation disc or a USB flash drive. For more information, see Start your computer from a Windows 7 installation disc or USB flash drive.


  • You can't use the Upgrade installation option to upgrade a 32-bit version of Windows to a 64-bit version of Windows 7, or to upgrade a 64-bit version of Windows to a 32-bit version of Windows 7. You'll need to choose the Custom option during Windows 7 installation. For more information, see Installing and reinstalling Windows 7.

How do I install Windows 7 on a netbook?

Purchasing and downloading Windows 7 online from the Microsoft Store is the simplest way to install Windows 7 on a netbook or other computer that doesn't have an internal DVD drive. For more information, go to Installing Windows 7 on a netbook on the Windows website.

Why do I see an Upgrade Compatibility Report?

This report might appear during an upgrade installation if Windows detects issues that might affect the upgrade. The report includes recommended steps to take, and a copy of it is saved to your desktop so you can refer to it later. For more information, see What is a Windows 7 Upgrade Compatibility Report, and what do the results mean?

Where do I find my product key?

You can find your product key on your computer or inside the Windows package—or in a confirmation e‑mail if you purchased and downloaded Windows 7 online. For more information, see Where do I find my Windows 7 product key?

How do I get a product key?

If you don't have a product key to type during the installation process, you need to buy a new product key and activate Windows within 30 days after installation. For more information, see Get a new Windows 7 product key and Activating Windows 7: frequently asked questions.

Why isn't my printer shared after upgrading?

If you shared any printers in Windows Vista, you'll need to re-share them by following these steps:

  1. Click the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then click Devices and Printers.
  2. Right-click the printer you want to share, and then click Printer properties.

  3. On the Sharing tab, select the Share this printer check box, and then click OK.

    If other computers still can't access the printer, delete the printer from the other computers, and then add the printer again.

How do I fix a device, like a monitor, sound card, or printer, that doesn't work since I upgraded to Windows 7?

First, try reinstalling the device. If that doesn't solve the problem, check with the manufacturer for a newer version of the device driver that's designed to work with Windows 7. For more information, see Update a driver for hardware that isn't working properly.

For information about using troubleshooters to help fix problems, see Troubleshooting in Windows.

What is the Windows.old folder and how do I remove it?

If you install Windows 7 by performing a custom installation, and you don't format the partition during installation, files that were used in your previous version of Windows are stored in the Windows.old folder. For more information, see How do I remove the Windows.old folder?

Will my programs work with Windows 7?

Most programs written for Windows Vista also work in Windows 7, but some older programs might run poorly or not at all. To try and fix a compatibility problem, see Open the Program Compatibility troubleshooter‍. For more information about program compatibility, see Make older programs run in this version of Windows.

If the Program Compatibility troubleshooter can't fix the problem, you might be able to run the program using Windows XP Mode. For more information, search for "Windows XP Mode" in Help and Support.


  • Some programs such as Windows Mail and Outlook Express are no longer included in Windows 7. If you used Windows Mail or Outlook Express as your e‑mail program, you'll need to install a new e‑mail program after you finish installing Windows 7 to read your messages or to send and receive e‑mail. For more information about programs you can use, go to Looking for Windows Mail? on the Windows website.

  • If you perform a custom installation of Windows 7, you'll need to manually reinstall the programs that you want to use in Windows 7. Make sure you have the installation discs and product keys for your programs, as well as the setup files if you downloaded any programs from the Internet.

  • If you're running a 64-bit version of Windows and plan to install a 32-bit version of Windows 7, programs that were designed to run only on a 64-bit operating system might not work. Check the software manufacturer's website for more information, or go to the Windows 7 Compatibility Center website for hardware and software tested to be compatible with both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7.

Can I use my product key on more than one computer?

You can't use the same Windows product key to activate Windows 7 on more computers than the Microsoft Software License Terms allow. Usually, the license terms allow the product key to be used on only one computer.

If you use your installation disc or a USB flash drive to install Windows 7 on a second computer, you'll need to buy an additional copy of the same edition of Windows 7 to obtain a new product key. For more information, see Get a new Windows 7 product key.

Article ID: MSW700063

What if I can't find my answer here?

You can ask or see if there is an answer to your question online at Microsoft Answers in the Install, Upgrade, Activate forum.