Users find ways around early Vista licensing hurdles

Users find ways around early Vista licensing hurdles

Summary: The first wave of Windows Vista users are hitting some licensing glitches that are making them none too happy.

TOPICS: Windows

Sometimes it just doesn't pay to be first. In the case of Windows Vista, the first wave of users are hitting some licensing glitches that are making them none too happy.

The latest Vista licensing problem to come to light is a licensing-key glitch affecting those purchasing the Vista Family Pack. (The Vista Family Pack is a bundle of Windows Ultimate retail plus two $50 copies of Home Premium, designed for individuals with multiple PCs in a single household.)

Family Pack purchasers are reporting they are being issued invalid keys for the Home Premium copies that are part of the bundle. As explains:

"Many (if not all) users who took advantage of Microsoft’s Vista Family Discount have been issued invalid installation keys and cannot install Windows Vista Home Premium. Microsoft confirms that the keys are indeed valid, but not for Windows Vista."

I contacted Microsoft for an update on how and when it plans to fix the Family Discount key problem. A spokesman said late on January 31 that he was awaiting word back.

Luckily, there's no need to wait around for Microsoft to get around to reissuing the key. On the Windows-Now blog, Robert McLaws notes there is a workaround:

"If you were issued a bad key, just install Vista without it. When it asks for the Product Key, just select "Next", then chose "Home Premium" as your edition, and continue as usual. Then, when Microsoft sends you the right key, you can add it to your system."

Speaking of workarounds, there's help for Vista users who are mad that Microsoft is requiring users interested in doing a clean install of Vista from a newly purchased Upgrade DVD to jump through hoops.

Fellow ZDNet blogger Adrian Kingsley-Hughes has some tips for living with Microsoft's Vista new clean-install requirements. Other bloggers, including the folks on APC Magazine, are offering ways to circumvent Microsoft's prohibition against allowing clean-installs from upgrade versions. Windows Expert Paul Thurrott has posted a seven-step workaround for the clean-install limitation, as well.

Topic: Windows


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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  • Any UK uptakers foolish enough to get Vista hit another glitch -

    Vista is twice as expensive in the UK as it is in the US. Bill Gates refused to be drawn, when questioned in London, on why Vista's cost to European users is TWICE the cost for US users. . My theory - petulant kick back for the fines imposed by the EU as they attempt to rein in this untrammeled, hegemonistic, anti consumer corporation.

    Would US users pay twice as much for a commodity simply because they were American? Blatant rip-off. No suprises there, then.
    • How about because...

      The exchange rate heavily favors Euros right now? The dollar is weak, and the purchasing power of the Euro is about twice the dollar. So your whine is incorrect and misleading...the same relative price is being paid.
      • Are you an MS bean counter?

        "The same relative price is paid" ... what do you smoke?

        Vista Home Basic costs approximately $99 in the US, In Europe it costs $187. Explain again how the European buyer, paying Microsoft $187, is getting the same 'relative' deal as a US punter, paying Microsoft $99. Same with Vista Ultimate. US punter pays $380, European punter pays $744.
      • Exchange Rate

        It's the British pound that is worth about $2. The Euro is only about a $1.30 I think.
        • What about Import Duty?

          Many country's have a very large import duty on electronic equipment and software. Add 50% or so to the already high price, then stick in the exchange rate and you wouldn't have to charge more, it'd already be far more expensive than in the US. Of course if it's already that high who's gonna notice a few more dollars to the publisher<:-))
      • That doesn't make sense

        So if 1 Euro is worth 2 dollars then $100 for Vista Home Basic should cost people in the Europe 50 Euros which $100. Now if the dollar is worth 2 Euro as it takes 2 Euros to buy 1 dollar then what you say would be true.

        I suspect though that difference in price is not a Microsoft issue but probably more a Tax issue.
      • $1.30 is twice? [NT]

    • Who did you think would pay the fine?

      You didn't think it was coming out of Microsoft's pocket did you? Buwahahahaha
      • Who did you think was going to buy Vista?

        Europe? Pay twice as much for a boatload of Hollywood enforced DRM which has already been cracked? Buwhahahahahahahahah
        • Shhhh....

          No_Ax still thinks he's getting a free ride with all the fines and payouts that MS has done over the last couple of years.

          He hasn't quite figured out that when MS pays, for instance Novell, $2.5GazillionBillyBucks that they simpley raise the price of his copy of the software to pay for it.
          • Of course everyone pays...

            So many silly posters don't grasp that a fine is a cost of business and it gets built into the products price. Silly posters...
        • You will of course...

          And become a closet user so you don't have to tell your frineds.
          • Message has been deleted.

    • Vista markup outside the U.S. is huge

      For what it's worth, when I asked Microsoft in November about the huge markup in Vista outside the U.S., the Softies blamed the "channel."

      See this for more:
      Mary Jo Foley
      • Why not?

        I can't beleive I have to pay 7567.00 dollars more for a BMW in the US then I do in the UK. Is the destination cost really that much more, given the volume they ship?

        Or is it just a markup?
        John Zern
        • I doubt

          The extra you pay for a BMW is the result of U.S. protectionist tariffs. I don't think Europe is charging a 100% tariff on Microsoft products.
          • Not just tarifs

            What things like the VAT tax. Could it not apply to a PC running Vista if Vista is capable of allowing you to view TV? Not sure how that's applied but using it as example of possible other taxes.
      • Yes, users are better buying directly froim MS

        You asked who would download Vista. The answer of course is anyone outside the US wanting to save a buck.
      • Well, that'll curtail piracy...


        Microsoft can help destroy our middle class all it wants by offshoring*, but the programmers with a vested interest in pirated software will be sure to leave plenty of loopholes. In short, pirates would never let their cash cow stop giving milk.

        * I've no qualms with helping other countries improve their quality of living, but if we consider our global society like a human body, it's really dumb to help a pair of legs by slitting one's own wrists in order to do it. Legs that have no qualms kicking those who are helping them too, may I add.
        • Please learn to read...

          MS is NOT charging these prices, the retailers are. That is why it is so much better to buy it directly from MS as a download.