What's the real story with Vista upgrades?

What's the real story with Vista upgrades?

Summary: A story making the rounds this morning says that Microsoft is about to annoy Vista upgraders with a new form of media that can't be used to do a clean install. The story is based on a single, incomplete Knowledge Base article. Maybe it's worth waiting a day or two to actually test the upgrade process before jumping to conclusions.

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TOPICS: Windows
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A story by Ken Fisher on Ars Technica this morning is raising alarm flags. Fisher points to Microsoft Knowledge Base article 930985, which documents a change in the setup process for upgrade versions of Windows Vista. The article's title reads: "You cannot use an upgrade key to perform a clean installation of Windows Vista."

Fisher concludes, "[Once] again, Microsoft appears to have made licensing decisions without considering how people actually use their products."

George Ou calls it "another one of those 'what were you thinking' moments for Microsoft management."

I'm not certain what's actually going on here. The KB article itself is ambiguous. In Microsoft's world, a clean install requires booting from optical media (CD or DVD). Here's Microsoft's definition of a clean installation, as contained in an earlier KB article:

A clean installation refers to removing all data from your hard disk by repartitioning and reformatting your hard disk and reinstalling the operating system and programs to an empty (clean) hard disk.

So how is the upgrade media going to work? It sounds like it won't be bootable, which means that you won't be able to start your PC using the upgrade DVD. Will it include the disk management tools included on a retail Vista DVD? Will you be able to install Vista without a product key, as you can with a retail DVD? Will you be able to install Vista to its own directory or to an existing disk partition without migrating current settings - what most people outside Redmond consider a "clean install"?

The answer to all those questions, at this point, is "Nobody knows." At least, nobody outside of Redmond. So far, the only copies of Windows Vista that have been distributed to the public and the press have been full retail copies. I have yet to hear from a single source that has actually seen one of these upgrade disks and documented the experience. Everything written so far is just speculation until those disks are in customers' hands tomorrow. This may turn out to be a headache, as predicted. Or it may turn out to be much ado about nothing.

Stay tuned...

Topic: Windows

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23 comments
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  • For the benefit of all the home users...

    ... with upgrade coupons and irreplaceable items on their hard drives, I'm hoping that Microsoft makes it as difficult as possible to clear the drive.

    Difficult to read a reformatted hard drive.
    Anton Philidor
    • Difficult is one thing

      Making it impossible is a whole other issue. Why upset half your client?le just for the sake of the other half? And if you think about it, most of the half you are pleasing will never even attempt an upgrade anyway, so it would be far less than half.
      Michael Kelly
      • Best thing Microsoft could have done.

        I hope that the packing materials are very clear that a clean install won't work. Make the statement larger than Microsoft or Windows.

        A number of people will probably have others do the upgrade, and a number of them will be tempted to attempt a clean install, with the nearly 100% likelihood of disaster.

        Almost all the clientele will be people who should not do a clean install, so Microsoft isn't losing much.

        The part that surprises me is that Microsoft was able to devise an upgrade program that works well enough to make this approach possible.
        Anton Philidor
  • Yurk!

    That would mean, if true, that all I could do is "restore" the machine as it was delivered and then "Upgrade".

    Sure hope that CrapCleaner get's an upgrade out for Vista to help remove all those pesky "Craplets" that MS was moaning about.
    www.ccleaner.com
    Cardinal_Bill
  • Voiceless

    There are consequences to acting as an advocate for only one vendor rather than
    technology as a whole. When one criticizes the policing of a license rather than the
    fairness or unfairness of the license terms even a victory is temporary and hollow.

    Regardless which way this goes, whether this rumor is unfounded or not,
    complaining about it is like railing against your own codependency. The victories
    will be even more hollow than the defeats. The calls for forbearance will continue.

    The only way out of this loop is to divert funds earmarked to Microsoft, to another
    vendor. And no folks, that doesn't mean sticking with Vista's "competitor" XP.

    Other vendors are lacking? I wonder why?
    Harry Bardal
    • I don't care why

      If a vendor is lacking, I simply choose one that isn't.
      Pretty simple.
      And what 'other vendors' do you mean? Apple, which offers far less choice then Windows? Linux, which offers so much choice the average user would be hopelessly confused?
      I choose what works. And I don't allow a rather silly, blind hatred of any one company make that decision for me.
      mdemuth
    • I'm getting an Amiga next week

      Thanks for the suggestion, Harry. Nice to know some things never change.
      Ed Bott
    • "Acting as an advocate"

      Nice to slip that in, Harry. Once again your powers of distortion are in full force.

      I'm a reporter and commentator, not an advocate.
      Ed Bott
      • Advocacy

        It can be argued, that what is shown is advocated. You "show" Windows to the
        exclusion of other options. Even criticism of Windows within this framework
        serves to aggrandize the platform. Criticism is confined to the sub economy of
        "platform" and not in the context of the open market. Without a larger context it,
        the complaints are ineffectual. This blog is an exercise in drawing attention to
        powerlessness. The Amiga comment is case in point. You can't leave the platform
        because the investment of time and money has been too great. So this is nothing
        more than an attempt to be ok with it. You let us know when Ed Bott hardball
        starts and the cheques you write to them carry that note that says "treat me right".
        Or else what? You'll write another cheque?

        Yes, it's advocacy. Whether it's today's new indignity, or say... being prepared to
        pay Michael Dell "only" $10 as opposed to $50 to take off unwanted software, is
        just one of dozens of lap dances that proves it.
        Harry Bardal
        • Broken record

          Harry, I cover Microsoft. Just like there are people out there who cover Apple. And others who cover Linux.

          You can spew all the jargon you want, but really I don't understand why you insist on hanging around this tiny corner of the Internet when there are so many other places where your comments might actually be pertinent.
          Ed Bott
          • He has a point, Harry, not about the broken record, but...

            why do you waste your considerable writing and logic talents here with Ed. He's actually complimenting you. Move on to higher, greener pastures. And remember me; I gave you your start.
            rayted32
  • Sent Ed Bott an email concerning this topic two months ago

    I guess 'ol Ed doesn't read all his email as I notified him of this development about two months ago.
    cnfrisch
    • Never got it

      I don't see anything from you in my Inbox, Carey.

      Anyway, unless you sent me a copy of the DVD, what would this add to the discussion? Can you give us a firsthand report?
      Ed Bott
  • Title for my message :-)

    I apologize in advance for my bad english, sorry :-(

    There's no difference between media, I've already tried an upgrade media (from MAPS) and that dvd is bootable.
    The only difference between upgrade and full licence is the product key you type.
    If you type an upgrade pk then you cannot install on a clean hard disk.
    You can try to cheat: if you do not type the product key you can install Vista but if you try later to change that pk(and type an upgrade pk) you receive an error which states that you cannot install an upgrade version on a clean system (I'm sorry I know that would be much more useful if I copy the exact message, but I forgot to write it down :-( ).
    I'm note sure but the error could be 0xC004F033
    (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/931276)
    About the management tools I'm not aware of any change :-(
    Karappo
    • No need to apologize...

      Your "English" is about as good as mine. I speak "American", but can understand "English" if spoken slowly and clearly. :-)

      And while I've studied Spanish, German and English, I still can't speak or understand Spanish and German at all.
      Cardinal_Bill
    • Ah, excellent

      Thank you. My MAPS subscription hasn't arrived yet.
      Ed Bott
  • Why not do as most other software

    Ask for the key of the software you're upgrading? Works for most software I'm upgrading and together with a check of this key they should be fine.

    Just hope that their upgrade process if fool proof, because else you will get the barrage of blogger flocking in ;)
    tombalablomba
  • Anytime upgrade?

    I have a machine with XP Media Center installed.

    I have a copy of Vista Business.

    Vista Ultimate can be used to upgrade XP Media Center , Vista Business must use a clean install.

    I have to have Vista Business installed before I can upgrade to Ultimate.

    As I understand it, the whole image is on the DVD. Shouldn't I be able to just buy an upgrade key?

    I'd rather not do a clean install, if I can just do an upgrade and not have to re-intall programs.
    DKlippert
  • Microsoft Confirms Vista Upgrade Limitations

    Ed-

    Your journalist "buddy",Paul Thurrott, post this workaround:
    http://www.windowsitpro.com/mobile/pda/Article.cfm?ArticleID=95011&News=1
    cnfrisch
  • Vista upgrade

    I've managed to upgrade from mce2005 to premium by using the option of new install on drive c: it reformated the disk removing the Data from extended partitons,and my boot disk option which had linux on it but didn't format these partitions?Must be me but IE 7 seems awful slow now, so went back to firefox proving something is going on re: security over speed!
    royalco