Users find ways around early Vista licensing hurdles

The first wave of Windows Vista users are hitting some licensing glitches that are making them none too happy.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

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 Neowin.net 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.

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