It's official: upgrade hack included in Vista SP1


J

Jon Pope

It's official: upgrade hack included in Vista SP1
By Scott Dunn

The new Service Pack 1 version of Windows Vista allows end users to purchase
the "upgrade edition" and install it on any PC - with no need to purchase
the more expensive "full edition."

The same behavior was present when Vista was originally released, but the
fact that the trick wasn't removed from SP1 suggests that Microsoft
executives approved the back door as a way to make the price of Vista more
appealing to sophisticated buyers.


Previous Windows version not needed for upgrade

Just after Vista was first released to consumers on Jan. 30, 2007, an
article in the Windows Secrets Newsletter explained that the upgrade edition
of the operating system could be installed on a "clean" hard drive. For
whatever reason, Vista had been programmed to accept itself as a "qualifying
product." This eliminated any need for users to purchase the full edition of
Vista or to upgrade Vista only over an older instance of Windows.

The Feb. 1, 2007, article by Windows Secrets editorial director Brian
Livingston explained that the procedure is supported by several built-in
dialog boxes. This indicates that the trick had been deliberately included
by Vista's developers.

To boost the sales of retail packages, Microsoft announced just over one
month ago significant price cuts in Vista, beginning with Service Pack 1.
The savings over the old prices vary among different Vista versions, such as
Home Premium, Business, and Ultimate. In the U.S., the list price of the
upgrade edition is at least $100 cheaper than the full edition. Smaller
savings exist in other markets, such as Canada and the European Union, as
shown in the table below.

The price reductions on the Service Pack 1 version of Vista are even more
significant because the upgrade trick still works in SP1, rendering
unnecessary the purchase of Vista's full edition.

Shortly after the hidden upgrade method was published, Microsoft officials
publicly stated that the procedure would violate Vista's end-user license
agreement. Section 13 of the Vista EULA (PDF version) says, "To use upgrade
software, you must first be licensed for the software that is eligible for
the upgrade."

"We believe only a very small percentage of people will take the time to
implement this workaround, and we encourage all customers to follow our
official guidelines for upgrading to Windows Vista, which can be found at
WindowsVista.com, instead," said a Microsoft press representative quoted in
a News.com article on Feb. 14, 2007. "Following these guidelines will allow
customers to easily and validly upgrade to Windows Vista," he continued.

Since that time, of course, Microsoft has had over one year to remove the
upgrade back door before releasing the SP1 version of Vista. Livingston
believes that the company must have consciously decided not to do so.

"The fact that the upgrade edition will still upgrade over itself in Vista
SP1 proves that Microsoft executives knowingly support the upgrade trick,"
he says. "I think the feature was deliberately included to make it
unnecessary for more advanced and price-sensitive users to ever buy the full
version. There is no ethical dilemma with people using a feature that
Microsoft has specifically programmed into Vista."

Ironically, the original release of Vista's upgrade edition was
disappointing to many consumers. They'd been told by Microsoft that the
Vista upgrade process would no longer accept the insertion of a disc
containing an older version of Windows as proof that Vista was upgrading
over a qualifying product.

Instead, users heard from Microsoft that the Vista upgrade procedure must be
launched while a copy of Windows 2000 or XP was actually running. The
upgrade trick that Vista developers included, however, renders that
requirement moot. A Vista upgrade disc will install and activate properly
even on a blank hard drive that has never previously been used.

Installing software from an original distribution disc to an empty hard
drive, which is called a "clean install," is a best practice recommended by
security organizations, such as NIST and US-CERT. Vista, unlike XP and
previous Windows versions, doesn't make a clean install easy.

The original Windows Secrets article contains step-by-step instructions on
upgrading Vista in this way. In a nutshell, the procedure involves booting a
PC from the Vista upgrade DVD. Next, a clean install is performed without
the user entering the disc's product key or downloading any patches.

Once this unactivated, trial version of Vista is running, the setup program
is launched again - this time from within Vista. At this point, the
"upgrade" option is selected, the product key is entered, and Vista can be
activated exactly like the full edition of the product.

Upgrading Vista on a clean machine works in SP1

Once Microsoft released the SP1 version of Vista, I tested the upgrade trick
again to see whether the company had removed the feature. I used an upgrade
disc of Vista Ultimate SP1 that I'd ordered at retail from Amazon.com.

I repeated the original steps and found they work just as well on the SP1
version of Vista as they did on the old version.

For PC users who are thinking about installing Windows Vista, the upgrade
technique has even more value than it did last year. There are two reasons:

1. Quality. Vista SP1 is arguably a better product than the old, gold
version of the operating system. SP1 includes 551 bug fixes, according to a
white paper available from a Microsoft.com download page. The company claims
in a press release that SP1 addresses security, reliability, and performance
concerns with the older version of Vista.

2. Price. Whether or not you believe Vista was overpriced before, it's
clearly a less-expensive product now than it was a year ago. As reported by
Computerworld, the price cuts range from zero to 47%, depending on the
country and the version of Vista.

Table 1, below, shows that the upgrade edition of Vista is always cheaper
than the full edition of the same version (Home Premium, Business, and
Ultimate.) The figures are based on documents provided to Windows Secrets by
Microsoft's public relations firm, Waggener Edstrom.

The following table shows Microsoft's new suggested list prices and the
percentage reduction from Vista's original prices. Street prices for Vista
SP1 currently average about 10% less than suggested retail.

Table 1. New Vista SP1 list prices and percentage reductions from the
originals.

United States (in U.S. dollars)
Full edition
Upgrade edition

Vista Home Premium
$ 239 ( 0%)
$ 130 (-19%)

Vista Business
$ 299 ( 0%)
$ 199 ( 0%)

Vista Ultimate
$ 320 (-20%)
$ 220 (-15%)



Canada (in Canadian dollars)
Full edition
Upgrade edition

Vista Home Premium
C$ 206 (-26%)
C$ 113 (-26%)

Vista Business
C$ 253 (-27%)
C$ 233 ( 0%)

Vista Ultimate
C$ 263 (-27%)
C$ 243 ( -1%)



United Kingdom (in pounds)
Full edition
Upgrade edition

Vista Home Premium
£ 103 (-27%)
£ 50 (-47%)

Vista Business
£ 127 (-27%)
£ 117 ( 0%)

Vista Ultimate
£ 132 (-44%)
£ 122 (-21%)



Euro Zone (in euros)
Full edition
Upgrade edition

Vista Home Premium
? 147 (-34%)
? 81 (-46%)

Vista Business
? 201 (-28%)
? 187 ( 0%)

Vista Ultimate
? 208 (-44%)
? 194 (-21%)



Vista upgrading over itself is no accident

After all the publicity, the fact that the upgrade back door is still
present in Vista SP1 is a strong indication that the feature has at least
the tacit support of Microsoft officials. Indeed, the upgrade label on Vista
retail packages, then and now, states that a "clean install may be
required."

There's no question that users who own a license for Windows 2000 or XP can
legitimately save time and money by buying the upgrade edition of Vista and
not having to first install the older operating system on a PC.

Although a clean install of Vista's upgrade edition - without any prior
purchase of 2000 or XP - may violate the Vista license, the result is
clearly an installed copy of Vista that is indistinguishable from a full
edition.

The upgrade edition's lower cost, Microsoft's overall price cuts for Vista,
and the fact that Service Pack 1 need not be downloaded and installed
separately make Vista SP1 a somewhat better value for users who didn't buy
the OS earlier.

Readers receive a gift certificate for a book, CD, or DVD of their choice
for sending tips we print. Send us your tips via the Windows Secrets contact
page.
 
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C

Colin Barnhorst

First of all, it is not a hack.

Second, installation of another copy of Windows is not required by the Vista
EULA before installing Vista with an upgrade product key. Only ownership of
a license eligible for upgrade to Vista is required by the EULA. The
installation methodology is at the convenience of the user as it always has
been with Windows.

Vista setup.exe is written with the most common scenario in mind
(replacement of existing Windows with Vista) but other scenarios exist and
the EULA supports them.

The user still must be in compliance with the upgrade provisions of the
EULA. That is, the user must still own a license for Windows eligible for
upgrade to Vista and that license is superceded by the Vista upgrade
license. It does not, however, have to be installed on the computer. It
can merely be assigned to it.
 
C

Carey Frisch [MVP]

Sorry, but this so-called "hack" is not approved by Microsoft.
Using this hack, Windows Genuine Advantage will check the
license and if it is determined it is solely an upgrade license,
your computer will be flagged as "non-genuine" and you'll
eventually have to purchase the correct "Full Version" license.

--
Carey Frisch
Microsoft MVP
Windows Desktop Experience -
Windows Vista Enthusiast

---------------------------------------------------------------

It's official: upgrade hack included in Vista SP1
By Scott Dunn

The new Service Pack 1 version of Windows Vista allows end users to purchase
the "upgrade edition" and install it on any PC - with no need to purchase
the more expensive "full edition."

The same behavior was present when Vista was originally released, but the
fact that the trick wasn't removed from SP1 suggests that Microsoft
executives approved the back door as a way to make the price of Vista more
appealing to sophisticated buyers.


Previous Windows version not needed for upgrade

Just after Vista was first released to consumers on Jan. 30, 2007, an
article in the Windows Secrets Newsletter explained that the upgrade edition
of the operating system could be installed on a "clean" hard drive. For
whatever reason, Vista had been programmed to accept itself as a "qualifying
product." This eliminated any need for users to purchase the full edition of
Vista or to upgrade Vista only over an older instance of Windows.

The Feb. 1, 2007, article by Windows Secrets editorial director Brian
Livingston explained that the procedure is supported by several built-in
dialog boxes. This indicates that the trick had been deliberately included
by Vista's developers.

To boost the sales of retail packages, Microsoft announced just over one
month ago significant price cuts in Vista, beginning with Service Pack 1.
The savings over the old prices vary among different Vista versions, such as
Home Premium, Business, and Ultimate. In the U.S., the list price of the
upgrade edition is at least $100 cheaper than the full edition. Smaller
savings exist in other markets, such as Canada and the European Union, as
shown in the table below.

The price reductions on the Service Pack 1 version of Vista are even more
significant because the upgrade trick still works in SP1, rendering
unnecessary the purchase of Vista's full edition.

Shortly after the hidden upgrade method was published, Microsoft officials
publicly stated that the procedure would violate Vista's end-user license
agreement. Section 13 of the Vista EULA (PDF version) says, "To use upgrade
software, you must first be licensed for the software that is eligible for
the upgrade."

"We believe only a very small percentage of people will take the time to
implement this workaround, and we encourage all customers to follow our
official guidelines for upgrading to Windows Vista, which can be found at
WindowsVista.com, instead," said a Microsoft press representative quoted in
a News.com article on Feb. 14, 2007. "Following these guidelines will allow
customers to easily and validly upgrade to Windows Vista," he continued.

Since that time, of course, Microsoft has had over one year to remove the
upgrade back door before releasing the SP1 version of Vista. Livingston
believes that the company must have consciously decided not to do so.

"The fact that the upgrade edition will still upgrade over itself in Vista
SP1 proves that Microsoft executives knowingly support the upgrade trick,"
he says. "I think the feature was deliberately included to make it
unnecessary for more advanced and price-sensitive users to ever buy the full
version. There is no ethical dilemma with people using a feature that
Microsoft has specifically programmed into Vista."

Ironically, the original release of Vista's upgrade edition was
disappointing to many consumers. They'd been told by Microsoft that the
Vista upgrade process would no longer accept the insertion of a disc
containing an older version of Windows as proof that Vista was upgrading
over a qualifying product.

Instead, users heard from Microsoft that the Vista upgrade procedure must be
launched while a copy of Windows 2000 or XP was actually running. The
upgrade trick that Vista developers included, however, renders that
requirement moot. A Vista upgrade disc will install and activate properly
even on a blank hard drive that has never previously been used.

Installing software from an original distribution disc to an empty hard
drive, which is called a "clean install," is a best practice recommended by
security organizations, such as NIST and US-CERT. Vista, unlike XP and
previous Windows versions, doesn't make a clean install easy.

The original Windows Secrets article contains step-by-step instructions on
upgrading Vista in this way. In a nutshell, the procedure involves booting a
PC from the Vista upgrade DVD. Next, a clean install is performed without
the user entering the disc's product key or downloading any patches.

Once this unactivated, trial version of Vista is running, the setup program
is launched again - this time from within Vista. At this point, the
"upgrade" option is selected, the product key is entered, and Vista can be
activated exactly like the full edition of the product.

Upgrading Vista on a clean machine works in SP1

Once Microsoft released the SP1 version of Vista, I tested the upgrade trick
again to see whether the company had removed the feature. I used an upgrade
disc of Vista Ultimate SP1 that I'd ordered at retail from Amazon.com.

I repeated the original steps and found they work just as well on the SP1
version of Vista as they did on the old version.

For PC users who are thinking about installing Windows Vista, the upgrade
technique has even more value than it did last year. There are two reasons:

1. Quality. Vista SP1 is arguably a better product than the old, gold
version of the operating system. SP1 includes 551 bug fixes, according to a
white paper available from a Microsoft.com download page. The company claims
in a press release that SP1 addresses security, reliability, and performance
concerns with the older version of Vista.

2. Price. Whether or not you believe Vista was overpriced before, it's
clearly a less-expensive product now than it was a year ago. As reported by
Computerworld, the price cuts range from zero to 47%, depending on the
country and the version of Vista.

Table 1, below, shows that the upgrade edition of Vista is always cheaper
than the full edition of the same version (Home Premium, Business, and
Ultimate.) The figures are based on documents provided to Windows Secrets by
Microsoft's public relations firm, Waggener Edstrom.

The following table shows Microsoft's new suggested list prices and the
percentage reduction from Vista's original prices. Street prices for Vista
SP1 currently average about 10% less than suggested retail.

Table 1. New Vista SP1 list prices and percentage reductions from the
originals.

United States (in U.S. dollars)
Full edition
Upgrade edition

Vista Home Premium
$ 239 ( 0%)
$ 130 (-19%)

Vista Business
$ 299 ( 0%)
$ 199 ( 0%)

Vista Ultimate
$ 320 (-20%)
$ 220 (-15%)



Canada (in Canadian dollars)
Full edition
Upgrade edition

Vista Home Premium
C$ 206 (-26%)
C$ 113 (-26%)

Vista Business
C$ 253 (-27%)
C$ 233 ( 0%)

Vista Ultimate
C$ 263 (-27%)
C$ 243 ( -1%)



United Kingdom (in pounds)
Full edition
Upgrade edition

Vista Home Premium
£ 103 (-27%)
£ 50 (-47%)

Vista Business
£ 127 (-27%)
£ 117 ( 0%)

Vista Ultimate
£ 132 (-44%)
£ 122 (-21%)



Euro Zone (in euros)
Full edition
Upgrade edition

Vista Home Premium
? 147 (-34%)
? 81 (-46%)

Vista Business
? 201 (-28%)
? 187 ( 0%)

Vista Ultimate
? 208 (-44%)
? 194 (-21%)



Vista upgrading over itself is no accident

After all the publicity, the fact that the upgrade back door is still
present in Vista SP1 is a strong indication that the feature has at least
the tacit support of Microsoft officials. Indeed, the upgrade label on Vista
retail packages, then and now, states that a "clean install may be
required."

There's no question that users who own a license for Windows 2000 or XP can
legitimately save time and money by buying the upgrade edition of Vista and
not having to first install the older operating system on a PC.

Although a clean install of Vista's upgrade edition - without any prior
purchase of 2000 or XP - may violate the Vista license, the result is
clearly an installed copy of Vista that is indistinguishable from a full
edition.

The upgrade edition's lower cost, Microsoft's overall price cuts for Vista,
and the fact that Service Pack 1 need not be downloaded and installed
separately make Vista SP1 a somewhat better value for users who didn't buy
the OS earlier.

Readers receive a gift certificate for a book, CD, or DVD of their choice
for sending tips we print. Send us your tips via the Windows Secrets contact
page.
 
S

Shane Nokes

That's completely untrue Carey.

I really hate to say this since I usually defend MVP's but Microsoft left
this in so that a "clean install" could still be done for those that owned a
prior license.

That has been stated more than once and has been confirmed.

It's not meant to allow installations in violation of the EULA but to
support a scenario where original media may not be available but where a
valid license is still in place.
 
R

Rick Rogers

Hi Shane,

Carey statement is based on information relayed in a licensing and
activation presentation and discussion on the Microsoft campus that I
attended as well. It was specifically stated by the presenters that they
were looking at ways to identify these types of installations via WGA.
Whether or not they will be blocked remains to be seen, but the loophole was
not intentional even though it was known prior to Vista's release. I suspect
that closing it required changes that would have delayed release, so they
let it go as is.

--
Best of Luck,

Rick Rogers, aka "Nutcase" - Microsoft MVP

Windows help - www.rickrogers.org
My thoughts http://rick-mvp.blogspot.com
 
J

JT Edwards

To all concerned:

About freaking time! Not to derail Microsoft (who I have a great deal of
respect for), but inability to upgrade Vista was simply insane. Explain to me
and the consumer base at large why:

1. New customers with 64bit processor machines (newly purchased) DO not have
an in place upgrade path from 32 bit to 64 bit.

2. Is this "workaround" applicable for 32 bit Vista to 64 bit Vista? Or will
I and the community have to reinstall our applications to include our data.

3. Now that Red Hat has made Linux so much easier for a lot of my
customers, there is a silent rebellion with regards to Microsoft due to this
oversight. Can't they (Microsoft) simply address the general public and point
out this simple factoid as a good will gesture?

I, for one, appreciate the candid conversation you guys are having. I am
hoping Microsoft gets this issue resolved so that we can remain loyal
customers.

Thanks for responding folks.

JT
 
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C

Colin Barnhorst

1. It has never been possible to upgrade in place from 32bits to 64bits for
any Windows client or server software because a 64bit OS MUST be installed
by a 64bit installer. A 64bit installer cannot run on a 32bit system.
Hence, upgrades in place cannot be done.

2. The so-called workaround is specific to 32bits. Vista 64bit Setup works
differently but a comparable technique can be used. The result is the same.
Specifically, although you must perform the workaround for 32bits from the
first installation's desktop, the workaround for 64bits can be performed by
booting with the 64bit dvd. The Vista installed on the first pass can be
either 32bits or 64bits in such a case. The edition chosen for keyless
installation on the first pass should not matter either.

3. I seriously doubt that anyone is rebelling over this. Revolting, maybe.
Rebelling, no.

Please understand that the installation methodology used to install Windows
has always been at the convenience of the user. Regardless of the
methodology used, the user is still responsible for being in compliance with
the EULA, which only requires that the user OWN a Windows license eligible
for upgrade, in this case to Vista.
 
J

JT Edwards

Colin,

Ok I am confused. I have a Sony VAIO with 32bit Vista Business. So from my
current understanding is that I basically have to strip the laptop and
install Vista 64bit (of course I will have to purchase 64bit Vista now).
However, based on this current thread, it appeared that 32 to 64 in place
upgrade was made. And now you are saying this was never the case.

My question is WHY is Microsoft OEMing 32bit Vista when what we probably
need 64 bit Vista.

As I indicated (believe me I have a lot of customers at the SMB layer), a
lot of my customers are looking hard at RHEL because of this oversight.

Hmmmm guess I will just run RHEL and run Vista on VMware or Xen.

I am really advising customers wanting to purchase desktops to be careful to
express 64 bit Vista versus 32 bit.

Really disappointing and quite frankly I believe a complete bait and switch
for existing Vista customers.

JT
 
C

Colin Barnhorst

What oversight? Microsoft provides 64bit OEM dvds and images. However,
unlike the retail editions, the user is not entitled to both. So if you buy
Vista x86 preinstalled on a new computer, you are not also entitled to OEM
x64 media (and vice versa) as you are if you buy a retail edition. You can
buy 64bit OEM (system builder) dvds right off of NewEgg. See:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116478
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116493

Upgrades:

You can migrate from 32bit to 64bit using an upgrade license (product key),
but you cannot perform an in-place upgrade from 32bit to 64bit for many
reasons, a key one being that you cannot run the 64bit version of setup.exe
on the 32bit desktop. Installation of a 64bit OS has to be done by a 64bit
setup.exe.

So you have to do a migration instead (save files and settings, install
Windows, install your apps, then restore the files and settings).

You do not have to flatten the volume first to remove a 32bit OS before
installing a 64bit version using either an upgrade or standard license. x64
Setup will roll up everything into windows.old folders which you can take
ownership of later and extract files, etc, and then delete at your leisure.

Since Vista is installed by laying down a fresh image (sector copying) of
the OS instead of XP's file copying method, there are no artifacts of code
left over from the previous OS so that is no longer a potential problem
requiring a classic clean install. Of course, the way x64 setup.exe works
even with upgrade product keys, you can boot with the x64 dvd and do a
classic clean install if you prefer. With an x86 dvd you cannot. x86 setup
has to be run from within existing Windows when using an upgrade product
key.
 
S

Shane Nokes

Rick my information directly from a question I asked Jon DeVaan in person
during a meeting in October 2007.

I asked if it was unintentional, and he said no. I do think that the Senior
Vice President of the Windows Core Services Division would know his stuff,
wouldn't you?
 
R

Rick Rogers

So would the individuals in charge of the licensing and activation division.
Sometimes these areas don't communicate with each other very well, and one
doesn't always know what the other is doing.

The point I was trying to make though is that Carey's assertion was based on
facts given directly to us (there were around 45-50 of us in the room) by
the individuals directly in charge of licensing and activation. To say it
was a lively session would be an understatement.

--
Best of Luck,

Rick Rogers, aka "Nutcase" - Microsoft MVP

Windows help - www.rickrogers.org
My thoughts http://rick-mvp.blogspot.com
 
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C

Colin Barnhorst

Another classic example of that is that Vista Ultimate is classed as a
consumer product for licensing and support but is treated like Business and
Enterpise in other areas, such as downgrade rights. Different divisions
within MS view it one way while others view it another. Its a big outfit.
 
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P

peebs24

I have Vista Home prem that was installed by the system manufacturer. It is
in FRENCH and I want it in English.
QUESTION:- If I use the Upgrade in English over my present French system
will it work? Does the Upgrade install a new FULL copy?
If not, does anyone have any idea about changing the langauge without buying
a new full - expensive - copy?
I tried using VISTAlizator, which supposedly installed a language pack in
English but although it worked to a point, it messed about with access. I
couldn't open certain parts of Control panel like System, Users etc.
Best regards,

peebs24
 

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