No more digital product keys for Windows Anytime Upgrade users

No more digital product keys for Windows Anytime Upgrade users

Summary: Starting February 20, Microsoft is planning to end distribution of digital product keys for Windows Vista that it previously provided as part of its "Windows Anytime Upgrade" program.


Microsoft is making a tweak to the way it will enable Windows Vista users to upgrade to higher-end versions of Windows via its "Windows Anytime Upgrade" program.

Windows Anytime Upgrade is a Vista marketing program via which Microsoft has allowed customers to move from lower-cost, less feature-rich versions of Vista to higher-end versions.

Starting February 20, Microsoft is planning to end distribution of digital product keys, company officials said on February 7. Instead, customers will need to obtain a Windows Anytime Upgrade kit, consisting of a Windows DVD and product keys, either directly from Microsoft, via snail-mail, or in person via a Microsoft retailer. Anytime Upgraders still can order the upgrade kit online, but the key will be sent by snail-mail.)

Why the change? A company spokeswoman said it's due to customer feedback. She sent me the following statement via e-mail:

"Since the current implementation of Windows Anytime Upgrade requires the use of a physical Windows Anytime Upgrade DVD, consumers have told MSFT that they would prefer to use the DVD and a standard 25-character product key to perform the upgrade-rather than the combination of the DVD (via mail) and digital key which arrive separately."

There's been plenty of talk about downgrading (especially from Vista to XP) in recent months. But has anyone out there used Windows Anytime Upgrade to upgrade to a pricier version of Windows? How was your experience?

Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • "Less feature-rich?"

    Unless you're upgrading from Basic, the extra features don't add much. To be honest, I don't see upgrading to Ultimate as being worth the cost. There's just to little extra value for the price they ask.

    Quite frankly, they need to either lower the price or add enough extra features to warrant the upgrade. I really don't see that the current Ultimate is anywhere near worth the extra cost, except maybe for bragging rights.
    • But you get Spanish

      But in Ultimate you can have it in Spanish! Surely that's worth a few hundred bucks.
    • Same here...

      I have everything I need in Vista Home Premium and I'd lose things I want going over to Vista Business - so the few perks of Ultimate really doesn't justify the cost.

      Microsoft should just give it up and move those features down to Enterprise and Premium.
    • Stupid

      My HP laptop came with Home Premium which would run Diskeeper Home but wouldn't run Virtual PC. I had a copy of Vista Business (I am a MS Partner) that ran Virtual PC but didn't run Diskeeper Home (you need Pro)and you loose the Media Center. So finally I decided to upgrade to Ultimate and get both. The extras suck, I had to upgrade for some stupid licensing issues.
  • how about a Linux upgrade and money back from M$

    since you don't own the OS and decided to get rid of it, M$ should reimburse you.
    with Linux you don't have to pay for the 'upgrade' or for the basic OS.
    Linux Geek
    • blah!

      "blah blah blah Linux rocks yada yada yada Microsoft sucks blah"
      did I fully paraphrase your comment? If you're going to to evangelize Linux, don't do it here. Most people here won't use Linux specifically because no one likes being cajoled into anything (which you're trying to do). And be more specific about the distro (afterall, only people who don't use Linux refer to it all as "Linux" Imagine:
      "I'm a businessman. I wan't to install linux on my systems since they're free. I heard Red Hat is the best enteprise solution.
      Its not free! I've been lied to and decieved! Oh, cruel world! I'm going back to Microsoft where no one tells me its free and then charges!"
      • what?....

        Linux is free.Read the GPL!
        I would be happy to install and provide updates for you if you pay me $1000/year/box for support.
        Linux Geek
        • Speaking of free

          it is quite obvious from your posts that you body has been free of a brain for quite some time. :(
          • tone down, man

            i don't see him saying anything personal about you, so don't rush in with insults. that sort of thing (almost) always results in a flame war.
        • Reality calling

          It's not just the OS - it's things like support, applications, interoperability (and no - not with other OSes). Linux doesn't give you those things.

          Example: most people want FEWER choices, not more. I take it you missed the yelling about the complexity having just seven similar versions of Windows Vista? How do you think they react when they see the huge complex tree of Linux distros?

          And like it or not, for all the complaints (typically from Linux types) of how hard or unstable Windows is, it's still vastly easier to use, maintain and support than Linux is. Ubuntu may be getting closer - but it's still a ways off.

          The problem is that you, like most Linux users (and Mac users while we're on it), have an internal set of priorities - the things you think are vitally important. That'll include security, minimalism, lots of choices, access to the source and so on. None of these are very important to the typical Windows end user for whom the important issues are: compatibility with applications, compatibility with hardware, predictability and consistency of the system. No end user in the real world wants to see source code, let alone compile it.

          Until there's just ONE (or two) Linux distro - and it's as easy to manage, install, upgrade and support as Windows or MacOS is - and is compatible with existing applications - I mean really compatible, not sort of, Linux just won't be a serious player on the desktop.

          Rather than trying to smug your way here - which won't wash since I suspect most of us have tried Linux and after pulling out hair out for a few days, wiped the HD and installed Windows, go make a product that actually competes. There's a reason 93% of all computers runs Windows - and it's not 'monopoly' or 'antitrust'.

          As for me, if I want to run Linux - I'll go buy a Mac. At least I'll get a nice UI and good commerical quality apps. Or, if I really want to inflict self-flagellation, I'll get CygWin or Windows SFU.
          • Speaking of reality

            Windows is what came on most peoples computers. Its all they know. I agree linux can be confusing. Many people I know have exceeded their technical ability the moment they turn it on. Its not about this being better than that etc etc. People use what fits their purpose and or what they have. Linux fans are typically more advanced users and the choices appeal to them. As far as windows being easier than ubuntu I'm not sure thats true.
          • Vista appears to have none of the following

            " compatibility with applications, compatibility with hardware, predictability and consistency of the system. "
      • Linux

        Linux is a screen name is the top reason to ignore or not open a post. Chances are greater than 99.9+% that whatever is being said is drivel.

        No, I have nothing against the various Linux distros at all; I like Mandriva and think the comics people shouldn't have been so sill about Mandrake the Magician. Still waiting for the movie you know.
  • How About An Upgrade To XP?

    Yes, you heard me, an upgrade, because Vista is a definite downgrade from XP.
    • Good question!

      Where is my SP3 !? Wasn't Microsoft working on that too?
    • Vista is cool and not without LIVE.mht as an Elite Group motherboard BAK$$

      Too much understanding for us average consumers to afford. WMLA Retail Giants won't touch me in their service department to take my Premium Full Version online for registration during my darkest hour.. .what's up here? A throw at DICE sounds like the Ultimate Vista answer, in my opinion for the lack of Cosmopolitan faith in XP SP2.
    • Here! Here!

      Vista is just a nightmare. Especially for niche users who use custom software to track their particular business.
  • red hat isn't

    i know most distro's are free. (heck, i even used ubuntu and fedora for a while last year...worst month of my life. wrecked my boot manager, stole hard drive space, i had to completely nuke my drive and reinstall vista, but that's a gripe that's entirely my fault.)what i mean is red hat isn't free. Its a linux distro that charges you for the software. so, by definition, linux isn't free. most types of linux are free, but not all. i'm just trying to put that implicit explanation in there.
    and no, i'm not in anyway hateful of open sources developers. i think you hippies are free to do what you like as long you don't bother me about it.
    • You didn't look very hard....

      This is composed and posted on a FREE Red Hat system, using FREE Firefox as a browser.

      So...tell us that again?????
      linux for me
      • the post is in the wrong area

        it was supposed to be a reply to linuxgeek but i accidentaly hit "reply to message. on my original message to linux geek, i posted a link to the red hat website that said it costs some 300 dollars for something. i didn't look very hard, since i thought the price written there was what they charged for their software.