With the release of so many versions of Windows 7, knowing the exact way to upgrade your computer is a little tricky. If you have Windows XP, you can’t “upgrade” in the traditional sense, but have to perform a clean install.
However, if you buy an upgrade edition of Windows 7, then you have to have to perform the fresh install by first starting the setup from within Windows XP. Confused?
The reason this is important is because if you do it incorrectly, you will end up with the following error code:
The following failure occurred while trying to use the product key: Code: 0xC004F061
You can receive this error code for several reasons:
1.) You popped in the Windows 7 DVD while logged into your current OS and then restarted the computer. You then used the upgrade product key during the install.
You performed what is called a keyless custom install or a clean install of Windows 7 and used the upgrade product key.
2.) Windows 7 determines that the Windows Anytime Upgrade product key is not valid.
Here’s how you can solve each of these problems and get Windows 7 up and running properly.
3.) To fix the first issue, you have to log onto your computer and start the install from within the OS. Do NOT restart your computer because that becomes a clean install.
4.) For the second issue where you already went ahead and did a clean install by accident, you’re kind of in a crappy situation. There are only two ways to fix it: either use a Full Package Product key or install the previous OS and then go the installation again from within the new OS.
*NOTE*I have also heard that you might be able to call Microsoft and give them the product key for your old OS and they will give you a new product key for Windows 7 without you having to reinstall the old OS, so give that a shot.
If Windows determines the product key is invalid, you’ll have to use a Full Package Product key. This usually means the product key is fake or used for piracy.
The official word on “Error code 0xC004F061 when trying to activate Windows 7 or Windows Vista” can be found here at Microsoft.