Any formatting you need can be done in the W7 installer when booting from the DVD, and the install can continue as normal.
I'd make sure the drives are on the newest firmware before installing, but other than that you seem to be good to go. Just pop in the upgrade disk, boot from it and format the drives in the installer, and install W7.
As far as I know, it's your Windows activation key that knows it's an upgrade. The DVD is either the same as the full or works close enough to the full version. The install will note if it sees the old copy of Windows before you format the disk, so the activation should work without any special action on your part:
1. Boot DVD.
2. Windows setup sees Vista on your drive and notes this.
3. You reformat.
Any disk should give you the option to format.
The "upgrade" disk I had only read the Master Boot Record of the drive to see if an OS had previously been installed, formatted or not. If none had previously been installed on the drive, the license key would not work. Other than that it was just like a normal disk/license.
Thanks everyone -
Installed successfully last night, if anyone has to go through this, the Win7 upgrade disk apparently forces you to boot to the hard drive first (even if BIOS is set to DVD drive 1st) and load setup from the DVD within Vista; you tell it you want a clean install, and then it tells you to re-boot from the DVD if you want to format the existing partition. I guess it wants to check if Vista is legit before letting you boot from the DVD directly.
Anyhow, installing on the X25M took no more than 15 minutes, and W7 loading to desktop from "Windows Starting" took about 10 seconds. I haven't plugged in my secondary drive yet, I'm sure it will slow things down. HD Experience index for the X25M is a 7.7.
Are you sure your DVD was set to before the hard drive in the boot order? I have the upgrade package and I definitely booted straight off my DVD when I installed, and just this past weekend I booted a friend's machine with a dead XP install from the upgrade DVD. I wanted to try to recover some files from the hard drive, which was still bootable up to the "Last boot failed" boot manager screen.
I'm 100% certain, boot sequence was DVD->HD, tried it twice - the DVD spun for a while and both times it eventually booted Vista.
Only after I ran the DVD setup from within Vista (got to the section where it displays partitions then aborted before installing) did it allow me to boot from the DVD after a restart. I'll try it on my other machine just for kicks and let you know what happens.
Hi Busted -
Honestly I didn't pay attention to the 100mb partition, from what I read it can be safely removed after the install - I'll take a look for you next time I boot my W7 machine. I definitely did not explicity delete it.
Firmware was updated to 02HD prior to W7 install via CD, and it looks like W7 installed with the default AHCI drivers. Prior to install I unplugged all SATA cables other than SSD & CD/DVD.
Again my process was:
1) Set BIOS to boot first to CD/DVD
2) Boot, DVD spins a bunch then it still boots to my SSD Vista
3) Run DVD setup from within Vista, select custom install, it shows you the partition screen (and says reboot from DVD if you want to format)
4) Abort install, restart machine, now it does let me boot straight from DVD
5) Again, select custom install & get to partition screen, click format (showed 74.4/74.5gb available after format on X25M 80gb), then install