Re: It's official: upgrade hack included in Vista SP1

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?

"Rick Rogers" <rick@xxxxxxxx> wrote in message news:OjfqXP0yIHA.6096@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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 -
My thoughts

"Shane Nokes" <shane@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote in message news:5C8E5535-4D8D-480E-828E-6385107487F0@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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.

"Carey Frisch [MVP]" <cnfrisch@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote in message news:#HFWHKmyIHA.2340@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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


"Jon Pope" <mrjonpope@xxxxxxx> wrote in message news:%23mXuwXlyIHA.5892@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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, instead," said a Microsoft press representative quoted in
a 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

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 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

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

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

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.

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