Get Vista upgrade, never pay full price

Brian livingston By Brian Livingston

Many people are upset by the fact that the economical, “upgrade” version of Vista won’t accept a Windows XP or Windows 2000 CD-ROM as proof of ownership. Vista Upgrade is said to install only to a hard disk that already has XP or 2000 already on it.

But I’ve tested a method that allows you to clean-install the Vista upgrade version on any hard drive, with no prior XP or W2K installation — or even a CD — required.

Save by avoiding the ‘full’ version

Windows Vista, in my opinion, is a big improvement over Windows XP in many ways. But the new operating system is distinctly overpriced.

The list price of the “full” (not “upgrade”) version of the most expensive edition, Vista Ultimate, is $399.95 USD, with a street price around $380. That gold-plated retail figure is only possible because Microsoft long ago achieved monopoly pricing power in the PC operating system market.

Most computer users would prefer to keep using an older version of Windows, such as XP, rather than paying the inflated prices for the "full" version of Vista. To encourage switching to a new OS, Microsoft has historically offered a lower, “upgrade” price to people who can prove that they’ve previously purchased an older copy of Windows.

The difference between Vista’s full and upgrade prices can be substantial. Based on the asking prices shown at on Jan. 31 — the day after the consumer version of Vista became available — the four most popular Vista versions will set you back approximately as follows:

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2007-02-01: