Microsoft won’t fix Vista upgrade workaround

Last week, Paul Thurrott from Windows IT Pro found a loophole that allows owners of “upgrade” versions of Windows Vista to install the new operating system without the need to own a previous version of Windows. The procedure essentially involves installing Vista in trial mode and then “upgrading” from the trial installation. A week has now passed since word of the loophole got around, and VNUNet has learned straight from the horse’s mouth that Microsoft doesn’t actually plan to do anything about it:

“People without a licensed copy of XP that use this workaround are violating the terms of use agreed to when they purchased the upgrade version of Windows Vista,” a Microsoft spokesman told vnunet.com.

“As such, 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.”

Of course, since there is no apparent downside to violating the Vista terms of use in this case—aside from the not-so-straightforward nature of the workaround, perhaps—enthusiasts might be all too tempted to go ahead and save a few bucks. “Upgrade” versions of Vista are between $80 and $140 cheaper than full retail copies, depending on the edition.

Comments closed
    • Fighterpilot
    • 13 years ago

    37# Obviously better than you have……you’d probably do better with the anti Vista bleating on You Tube,there’s lots of 15 year olds their who will listen to it…

    • Illissius
    • 13 years ago

    I don’t see why you’d want to use this loophole rather than just pirate the OS outright, given that you’re breaking the law in either case, but paying money in the latter. Or is that not possible yet?

    • Fighterpilot
    • 13 years ago

    37# Like many others here I enabled the “superfetch” routine in XP in 2005(USAComp even wrote a registry script for it which was passed around at TR.)
    It is in no way comparable to the Vista superfetcher system.
    y[http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/01/29/xp-vs-vista/page5.html<]§ From a user point of view,Vista feels faster on the desktop in all areas.

      • indeego
      • 13 years ago

      Superfetch “tweak” is b*lsh^t and won’t do anything. Stop reading online forums g{<.<}g

    • Fighterpilot
    • 13 years ago

    17# y[

      • DukenukemX
      • 13 years ago

      I don’t think that anyone’s been able to benchmark anything on Vista to be faster then XP. The faster search feature is nice but I hardly ever need to search for something on my PC since I keep everything nice and neat.

      As far as OS stability I’ve already had Vista crash on me. I doubt that it’s any more stable then XP. System security is so secure that not even the users get access to a lot of features. Though I doubt it’ll prevent Virus infections and people hacking it.

      At the end you just bought Windows XP with a better GUI and DX10. Much like how Windows Xp was an upgraded GUI version of Windows 2000.

      BTW Windows XP has a Superfetch feature which can be enabled. Though lots of people said they didn’t notice a difference.

        • indeego
        • 13 years ago

        That is because there is *[

    • echo_seven
    • 13 years ago

    I have a semi-related question.

    I personally wouldn’t mind too much if, to save 100 bucks I just bought an upgrade disc instead of a full disc, and installed XP first then upgraded to Vista afterwards.

    However, I was told that once you upgraded, your original XP key would be de-authorized. If I take that literally it sounds like, if I were to need to re-install Vista /[

      • FireGryphon
      • 13 years ago

      Maybe they allow the old XP key to work for only a few days, enough time for you to install Vista on top of it legitimately. That’s pure speculation, though.

      • cynan
      • 13 years ago

      y[

        • kvndoom
        • 13 years ago

        I dunno. Doesn’t XP give you a certain amount of time to use it before you are forced to activate? 10 or 30 days, isn’t it? So even after XP is reinstalled, it doesn’t have to be activated before the Vista DVD is popped in. Kinda like how Vista doesn’t have to be activated before you install it over itself.

        I think MS may not be too worried because even if people buy the upgrade, it still costs more than the OEM, so they’re not exactly losing money.

        But only time will tell if they clamp down and squeeze the balls of people who are doing this. One day, down the road, people may reboot after applying a Windows Update, and suddenly see:

        l[

    • SpotTheCat
    • 13 years ago

    Is it against their license agreement to do the workaround to avoid installing XP first on a clean install? Is there a menu to authenticate your XP key?

    Why not just require you authenticate your XP CD key along with your vista one?

      • Shinare
      • 13 years ago

      Having read the EULA, it is indeed breaking the EULA to circumvent any designed limitations in the software. I believe its under the heading “Scope of License”. It is required to have a previous version of windows installed to perform an upgrade. Installing the same version, and then “upgrading” that same version would fall under breaking this agreement. IMHO.

      Why MS is doing it like that, or why even they are the moving from owning a copy of the software to owning a license to use the software is beyond me. Except that Jon Stewart asked Bill “Could you get any richer?” and Bill wants to find out.

        • just brew it!
        • 13 years ago

        q[

    • alex666
    • 13 years ago

    I agree with a number of posters here, specifically, that I wouldn’t put it past MS to somehow hose a system installed this way, or somehow complicate an installation and authentication. I think I’ll just spend the extra $70 and get the full retail version (I’ll wait a few months for all the early adopters to complete the final round of beta testing) and not worry about MS thwarting an install down the road. Because I _[

    • anand
    • 13 years ago

    Alot of people using this upgrade method could very well be legitimately entitled to the upgrade version. If you already own a copy of XP and are building a new computer, for example. If you go with Microsoft’s way, you have to install XP first, then upgrade it to Vista. You then end up with all sorts of XP-only cruft on your computer taking up space.

    Or you can ignore the XP part and do a Vista over Vista upgrade installation. It may not be exactly the way Microsoft envisioned but I think it’s as legitimate of an installation as doing the XP -> Vista way. In both cases, I have an XP license that I am upgrading.

    • kvndoom
    • 13 years ago

    I have a feeling that if MS patched in a “kill-switch” for those improperly upgraded copies, they’d wind up identifying a bunch of false positives and nuking systems that were upgraded legitimately. I’d put money on that. Down the road, when they have worked the bugs out of a system that will choke people who used this method, it’ll get rolled out silently.

    If they just sold the software for what it’s really worth, people wouldn’t be so crazy about finding ways to pay less / nothing at all. Sure some would, as it’s their nature, but more people would buy something they found to be reasonably priced.

      • jinjuku
      • 13 years ago

      I get Vista from school: $45… Luv it. Office 2007: $45… Glad I am in school (only takes one class).

        • Shark
        • 13 years ago

        As soon as you are no longer taking classes, you are required to delete said software.

        at least at some schools, you might want to double check on your “deal”.

          • imtheunknown176
          • 13 years ago

          Actually I’ve noticed that the microsoft agreement (from two seperate universities) that lets students buy discounted products allows them to keep it for life assuming the student graduates.

          • Vrock
          • 13 years ago

          That’s not the case with student and teacher editions of Office. Seems strange that they’d do that with the OS…

            • wierdo
            • 13 years ago

            I bought XP+XP64 for $30 (for both, they came as one package) from the Uni down here – since I work and study there as part of employment benefits – so yes that’s what the software doc states we should do… I doub’t many people really notice it or even care if that’s stated though.

            Anyway, just got one of those so I can upgrade to one of them perhaps five years later IFF Win2k starts to lose software support, who knows what my job/education situation will be by then, but unless they offer refunds I don’t think I’d worry about that little detail either.

      • ludi
      • 13 years ago

      I doubt they would ‘nuke’ the systems per se; more likely, they would give you a brief time period (30 days /[

    • just brew it!
    • 13 years ago

    Even if they don’t “fix” it anytime soon, this is something which could easily be checked for by an updated WGA tool. Surely there are telltale bits of wreckage from the upgraded OS left lying around on the hard drive and/or in the registry that WGA could scan for…

    • Usacomp2k3
    • 13 years ago

    Techreport, I’m disappointed that you are encouraging people to go against the TOS. I expect better.

      • Taddeusz
      • 13 years ago

      Why is reporting the news encouraging people to break the law?

        • Ardrid
        • 13 years ago

        Because IP nazis say it is 🙂

        • Usacomp2k3
        • 13 years ago

        Reporting “hacks” is not the same as reporting news. Did TR give the link on how to break the HD-DVD drm when that was done, or the BT, or the DVD for that matter? This is the second news post that has done this. The first one (https://techreport.com/onearticle.x/11747) gave instructions on how to do something that is 100% illegal. The EULA says that you must install it as an upgrade to XP. That is what it says. Like it you may not, but reporting on how to get around that, and not just with a link, but with the instructions actually typed out for the front page, that is just criminal.

          • ludi
          • 13 years ago

          Ah, so you must be a lawyer or a judge, then. Can you clarify which legal statutes make this post ‘criminal’?

      • Hizpanick
      • 13 years ago

      I’m disappointed that you find it disappointing.

        • BoBzeBuilder
        • 13 years ago

        I’m disappointed you find it dissapointing that he is dissapointed.

          • wierdo
          • 13 years ago

          Fibonacci disappointment.

            • bthylafh
            • 13 years ago

            Factorial disappointment.

            • wierdo
            • 13 years ago

            Exponential disappointment.

    • droopy1592
    • 13 years ago

    an extra hour of install time vs 80-140 bucks more expensive…. I think I’ll take the extra hour of install time and save my money.

      • Shinare
      • 13 years ago

      It depends on how you value your own time. Also factor in the worry that MS has monitored the upgrade version to the upgraded version and can pinpoint users using said workaround. I’d say if you are actually ponying up the dough for a licensed copy in the first place, then whats $80 more for less time each time you install and peace of mind and actually not violating/invalidating the very license you just paid for?

      People who pay $3-600 for a video card and then rip off windows make me scratch my head and wonder about their priorities.

        • Ardrid
        • 13 years ago

        .y[

        • DukenukemX
        • 13 years ago

        y[

          • Shinare
          • 13 years ago

          wow…just… wow. So let me get this straight, you are advocating stealing/breaking the EULA of windows to save 80 bucks, when thats what percentage of that $1,500 computer you are installing it on?

          Unbelievable.

          I’m not saying I like/enjoy Microsoft’s trend in their licensing of home users, but it seems asinine to me to actually pay for it in the first place and then break the EULA thus invalidating the software just because you may get away with it. Incredible.

          Also, as far as detecting what version of windows you are upgrading from, the way I read it, its fully within the EULA for Microsoft to record what previous version you are upgrading from and report it. After all, the upgrade version is for upgrading from a r{

    • wierdo
    • 13 years ago

    You can act all high and mighty about it, but at the end of the day, paying more money than possible for something you don’t get to own is a silly idea for many.

    Corporations can push all sorts of draconian laws, but they lose more and more public goodwill and actual moral high ground by doing so.

    If someone doesn’t own it even when he buys it, then obviously it wasn’t stolen as the seller doesn’t think of it as a property to begin with.

    As for me, Windows 2000 will be on my PC for a long long time, I’m not getting DRM infested garbage, so this whole installation loophole is of no use to me personally.

    • Crayon Shin Chan
    • 13 years ago

    In other words, Shinare: nobody cares. In fact, people will more likely say: Oh, I’m going to spend around 1500 on this computer, I might as well try shave as much fluff as I can off this price tag.

    • DukenukemX
    • 13 years ago

    y[

    • ludi
    • 13 years ago

    /[

      • Deli
      • 13 years ago

      probalby true.

      and then in <24 hours, another workaround crack will be uncovered…and the cycle continues…

    • nstuff
    • 13 years ago

    Seriously though, who doesn’t have a copy of 2000/XP laying around or a store-bought computer with 2000 or XP pre-installed?

      • StashTheVampede
      • 13 years ago

      Windows 2000 isn’t a supported upgrade OS.

    • R2P2
    • 13 years ago

    By the time they’re shipping installation disks with SP1 built in, I bet the loophole won’t exist. They’re going to fix it, but not quickly, so for now they’re saying it’s not significant.

      • Dirge
      • 13 years ago

      Exactly what I think about the situation.

    • Vrock
    • 13 years ago

    I’m can’t believe MS is stating that they think only a small number of people will violate the EULA. If they really think this, why product activation? Why WGA? Why impose the silly upgrade restriction at all?

      • packfan_dave
      • 13 years ago

      The overwhelming majority of Windows installations come with a new PC or are installed by a corporate IT department with a volume license. Anything that will only be used by the subset of people who are willing to buy an upgrade version of Vista when they don’t really qualify for one (or by people who just want to wipe their systems clean before installing) but aren’t willing to pirate Vista or get an OEM version just isn’t a big deal.

      • Shark
      • 13 years ago

      that’s not what they said. They said they believe only a small percentage of people will implement this workaround.

        • SGWB
        • 13 years ago

        I have to wonder if MS isn’t allowing this workaround just to pacify all the IT workers in the world who will have to reinstall Vista upgrades without the benefit of the origional XP install disks.

        All those people who bought new computers in the past couple of months will get their free Vista upgrade. Many of them will install Vista and promptly loose or throw out or give away their XP disk thinking it’s useless. At some point, technitians will have to do clean Vista reinstalls using one of these Vista upgrade disks.

    • toxent
    • 13 years ago

    If this loophole still exists when i (eventually) decide to get vista I may well use it.

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