Today I decided to upgrade my wife’s laptop to Windows 7 Ultimate Edition.  It had been running Windows 7 Home Premium but I could not use Remote Desktop to get into the system from afar so I decided it was time for Ultimate which would allow that.

Now back in the days before Windows 7 this upgrade would mean either an installation over top of your current setup which would keep all your programs, files, settings intact but would take quite a while to get the upgrade installed. The time necessary to upgrade a Windows system to Windows 7 is notoriously long.

Of course the other option is to back up all your files, programs, etc. and do a clean install is also available. This method is infinitely faster that the upgrade over top of another OS but then you have to get all your files back on the system and reinstall all of your software and then tweak the system settings to where you had them.  You can of course also use Windows Easy Transfer which I think works well but takes a chunk of time as well.

The third option that has come about in Windows 7 is use of the Windows Anytime Upgrade (WAU). You see the software to run any commercial edition of Windows 7 is already on your hard drive when you install Windows 7.

For instance my wife’s laptop had Windows 7 Home Premium on it but the files to run Windows 7 Ultimate are also there. They are just not used because of the license code I used to install Windows Home Premium. Those files are there waiting to be brought to life though and WAU is the way to activate them. Windows Vista had similar functionality but you had to have a WAU disc (or download) in order to add the additional files necessary for the upgraded version of the OS.

This process from typing in the WAU serial number to the system being ready to use as a Windows 7 Ultimate OS was less than 20 minutes.

Type in Windows Anytime Upgrade in the Start Menu search box and hit return to start the WAU wizard.


This page gives you an option to go online to purchase the WAU key or you can click the second option if you already have it from a retail outlet or previous purchase.


Enter your WAU serial here.


The verification process begins for the serial key you entered.


Once the key is validated you need to accept the licensing terms for the new version of the OS you will soon have.


After accepting the terms you then click the Upgrade button to start the process.


This is the progress screen as the upgrade is applied and those dormant files are woken up and put to work. The system will typically reboot at least once – some people have reported two re-boots. Your mileage may very well vary on this.  You will see some progress screens as the update is applied along with a percentage complete indicator.


When all is said and done this is the screen you will see. Click the close button and you will then be able to log into your freshly upgraded OS.

You now have Windows 7 Ultimate (or whatever version you upgraded to), your programs are still in place, your data is all in place, all of your customizations are in place. Now I call that a painless upgrade process!

So what has your experiences been with WAU?