Vista upgrade could lead to woes

Vista upgrade could lead to woes

Summary: Reports are circulating that the upgrade versions of Windows Vista won't allow users to "clean install" the operating system. If this turns out to be true then it's time to image your old Windows XP and Windows 2000 systems, buy Vista Ultimate or Business or by the full version instead of upgrade.

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TOPICS: Windows
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Reports are circulating that the upgrade versions of Windows Vista won't allow users to "clean install" the operating system.  If this turns out to be true then it's time to image your old Windows XP and Windows 2000 systems, buy Vista Ultimate or Business or by the full version instead of upgrade.

Microsoft is getting tough on licensingArstechnica are reporting that upgrade versions of Windows Vista Home Basic, Premium, and Starter Edition can't be "clean installed" on a PC and that Windows XP or Windows 2000 will need to be installed before being able to carry out the upgrade.  This information is based on a knowledge base article (KB930985) which makes the point pretty clearly:

You purchase an upgrade key for Windows Vista. Then, you try to use the upgrade key to perform a clean installation of Windows Vista by starting from a Windows Vista DVD. However, Windows Vista does not let you perform a clean installation by using the upgrade key, and you cannot upgrade to Windows Vista.

[poll id=73] 

Microsoft offers two resolutions (I'll allow readers to add a third - go to Linux):

  1. Upgrade to Windows Vista from an earlier, supported version of Windows that is already installed on the computer.
  2. Purchase a full license which permits you to perform a clean installation of Windows Vista.

Doesthis mean what we think it means?  Who knows, no one outside of Redmond has seen an upgrade version of Vista yet.  However, the knowledge base article is pretty clear I think.  And if things play out that way, it could spell trouble for users.

Let me just make one thing clear - clean installs will still be possible, the limitation is that you won't be able to install these versions on a clean PC.  You'll have to install the old version just to wipe it or install over the top of it.

From a business perspective I can see a number of reasons that Microsoft might want to do this.  It's a quick and easy way to prevent people getting an upgrade copy of Vista and installing that on a new PC and then running one PC with an upgrade edition Vista on it and the other with XP on it.  I would imagine that the upgrade process will check to see that the PC to be upgraded is running a genuine copy of XP (you can upgrade to Vista from Windows 2000 too, but that doesn't have activation or WGA) and only allow an upgrade disc to be used on a PC running a genuine copy of XP.

But from a practical perspective this is a nightmare.  If your PC dies will be forced to install XP or 2000 before installing Vista - a major step in terms of the time it takes to install the old OS. 

So, what can you do?  Well, you have several options:

  • Image your old XP system before upgrading - that'll make reinstalling much quicker, especially if you store the image on a hard drive rather than on DVD or CD.
  • Buy Vista Ultimate or Vista Business - the knowledge base article refers to only the following versions of Vista:
    - Windows Vista Home Premium
    - Windows Vista Home Basic
    - Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit edition
    - Windows Vista Home Basic 64-bit edition
    - Windows Vista Starter
  • Buy full versions rather than upgrade versions - only upgrade versions suffer from these limitations.
  • Stick with your old OS.

The issue I have with Microsoft taking this kind of action is that it will hit basic users harder than those with more experience.   These are going to be the people who end up paying PC repair shops extra to install two operating systems on their PC as opposed to one.  If you lose the disc, you've had it unless you have an image of the drive and it'll be time to buy another copy of Vista. 

It's odd that all your troubles go away if you by Vista Business or Ultimate.  Microsoft are serious about pushing the more expensive version of Vista, so much so that they are willing to cripple cheaper versions in order to be able to make Business and Ultimate seem like the better choice.  I don't like those tactics.

I think that this is the first stage of Microsoft tightening up on upgrades.  I wouldn't be surprised if the next version of Windows didn't tie together the key for your old operating system to your new PC in some way to prevent a single copy of the old OS being used as a seed for multiple upgrades. 

Microsoft is getting tough on licensing.

Topic: Windows

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14 comments
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  • Man, the hits just keep a comin'

    NT
    BitTwiddler
  • Grammar checkers?

    [i]that it will hit [b]users[/b] basic users[/i]

    Is it my imagination or is the general level of ZD editorial review (and yes, I realize this is supposed to be a blog) going downhill?

    I'm fairly careful to have [u]someone[/u] review anything I publish, although these comments have from time to time included some howlers (including a typo today on John Carroll's latest.) Which only goes to show that we're all rather limited in our ability to see our own errors.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • Draft

      This isn't the New York Times.
      ;)
      D T Schmitz
  • And your point is ... ?

    [i]It's odd that all your troubles go away if you by Vista Business or Ultimate. Microsoft are serious about pushing the more expensive version of Vista, so much so that they are willing to cripple cheaper versions in order to be able to make Business and Ultimate seem like the better choice. I don't like those tactics.[/i]

    So march on down to Steve Ballmer's office and tell him in no uncertain terms that he's fired if he doesn't change them.

    Oh, wait ...

    [i]I think that this is the first stage of Microsoft tightening up on upgrades. I wouldn't be surprised if the next version of Windows didn't tie together the key for your old operating system to your new PC in some way to prevent a single copy of the old OS being used as a seed for multiple upgrades.[/i]

    Keep in mind that they originally were going to clamp down on reinstallations of the [u]same[/u] version. Looks like they just raised the water temperature a bit too fast, is all.

    [i]Microsoft is getting tough on licensing.[/i]

    They've realized that piracy isn't working for them any more and are doing something about it. Once your market share hits 100% there's only one way to increase revenues, right?

    And never forget that they have a legal obligation to their stockholders.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
  • Lame

    What a way to force more people to either waste money on the full versions or waste an extreme amount of time reinstalling xp at every situation of a re-install.

    Piracy my behind. "lets make more money" is more like it. I had my copy of premium pre-orderd. i canceled it after reading articles about this scenario.
    billbraski
    • Force?

      They don't force you to buy anything, I am one of those people who won't be upgrading to Vista any time soon. Hopefully I never have too.. and hopefully MAC starts to get more popular, with games, so I can avoid Vista altogether.

      I can take some restrictions.. but restricting me through DRM is a no no.
      ju1ce
  • Vista's vaunted DRM has already been cracked

    Don't know if you've seen this yet, but millions of dollars spent, thousands of man hours invested, and Vista's built in DRM has been broken almost instantaneously. Once again, this proves that spending on DRM is a complete waste of money and time:
    http://www.boingboing.net/2007/01/29/vista_drm_cracked.html
    tic swayback
    • I think it was billions of dollars

      which is even worse.
      stevey_d
  • Am I missing something?

    I'm sorry, but is this news? A software company actually wanting someone who's
    "upgrading" to have the previous software installed to prove they actually have it?
    Serial numbers aren't exactly an effective method of copy protection. Even with
    WGA or whatever it's called people will find a way around it pretty quick if not
    already.

    If you bought a clean PC and needed to install XP on it before your Vista upgrade,
    how much labor would that actually be? As much time as it takes to put in a CD
    and maybe click a couple of options? Maybe 2 minutes unless you sit staring at
    your screen while it loads. Start the XP install, go do something, come back later,
    start the Vista install, go do something, come back later, done. If you lose your XP
    install CD, burn a copy off the net or borrow one, get your S/N from the sticker on
    your computer and you're set. If you lost the sticker use something like the Magic
    Jelly Bean Key Finder, and it will tell you what product key your install of XP is
    running on. That's just one program, there are a bunch of them. Unless I'm
    missing some major steps in the xp install process this really doesn't seem like an
    issue. I'll admit that I don't know much about putting on a new OS so I might be
    way off on this and likely am. If it was that simple people wouldn't be writing
    about it.
    um.crouc0
    • Doesnt' always work

      [i]If you lose your XP install CD, burn a copy off the net or borrow one[/i]

      You can't just download any XP CD and have it work with your serial number. OEM CDs are keyed and an OEM serial number will only work with that OEM's CD.
      Patrick Jones
      • Ok fine

        but what is your proposed solution? Why have an upgrade version if anyone can just install it clean. I believe when you purchase a Windows OS you are warned about retaining the original media. What is MS to do? If you lose your house keys, you have to have either 1. a backup copy/image or buy a new lock.
        I just don't get the big issue here.
        xuniL_z
        • I agree.

          The customer is the one who is responsible for backing up there own stuff. The fact that it says upgrade should set of a light saying that this is not the full version. Usually during the install proccess it just see's that there is a c:\windows folder on the system. Myabe keeping a backup copy of the windows folder can do the trick?
          donnellb
    • Time is money!

      If your hard drive fails your looking at approx. 1 hour to load XP then another hour for Vista. Compuret shpos are gonna love this at $100/hr. Before all you had to do was insert the old CD, then finish the install. Took 2 min.!
      schlicht@...
  • What's so tough?

    Whose running anything but XP anyway. BB sells the Vista HP for $159.00. Just bought it and haved it installed. It will ask if you want to upgrade to Ultimate for another $159. It's a download. If you don't,don't.

    Get a decent video card and it's fine....
    92mr2