Article on Vista upgrade trick rattles the cages

Brian livingston By Brian Livingston

The lead story in Windows Secrets on Apr. 3 revealed that Vista Service Pack 1 allows the “upgrade edition” of the OS to be clean-installed, something that supposedly requires Vista’s more-costly “full edition.”

The same trick was present in the original release of Vista, as I reported more than one year ago, but the fact that Microsoft executives have allowed the procedure to remain in SP1 sparked yet another round of thrills on the Web.

It’s news that MS execs retain the process in SP1

The Apr. 3 article, written by associate editor Scott Dunn, demonstrated that Service Pack 1 permits a clean install of Vista to be performed using the operating system’s upgrade edition. The list price for that version of Vista Home Premium is $130 (in the U.S. market) compared with $239 for the full version — a difference of $109.

Microsoft officials have repeatedly confirmed that this procedure is built into Vista. In a interview on Feb. 14, 2007, a Microsoft representative called the hidden feature in the original version of Vista a “workaround,” but claimed that using the trick without owning a copy of Windows XP, 2000, or another qualifying version of the OS would violate Vista’s end user license agreement (EULA).

The clean-install method involves booting a PC from the Vista upgrade DVD. The setup program is then completed without the user entering the disc’s product key or downloading any patches.

Once this unactivated, trial version of Vista is running, setup is started again — this time from within Vista. The “upgrade” option is selected, the product key is entered, and Vista can be activated exactly like the full edition of the product. A complete set of steps was published in my Feb. 1, 2007, article.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2008-04-10: