More Vista Activation Woes . . .

Someone send me this note:

“Just more crap to worry about with these great “buy xp now, get vista later” deal.
If you choose to purchase an upgrade version of Windows Vista to upgrade XP, you will no longer be able to use that version of XP, neither on another system, nor as a dual-boot option. The key will be invalidated, preventing activation.

He based this comment on the part of Vista’s EULA which says:

13. UPGRADES. To use upgrade software, you must first be licensed for the software that is eligible for the upgrade. Upon upgrade, this agreement takes the place of the agreement for the software you upgraded from. After you upgrade, you may no longer use the software you upgraded from.

It’s understandable MS would say that’s it’s not legal to do that, but is it technically possible for them to do that?

Let me explain:

Per the MS instructions, to upgrade from XP to Vista, you’re allegedly supposed to have a “compliant” (i.e., activated) version of XP installed. Once you have that, then you stick in your Vista disk and go on from there. Presumably, this is when the “deactivation” would occur. There’s certainly nothing technically impossible or even difficult for MS to put the XP product key on some “no good no more” list.

But what happens when the OS gets hosed and you need to start all over again?

The MS instructions imply you have to have XP installed. OK, you do that, but then you have to activate it. If your XP product key is on some “uhh, uhh” list, it won’t activate. But if you can’t activate XP, you can’t install Vista. Catch-22.

I suppose one could call Redmond, but how many millions of phone calls would that generate?

You probably already know that it turns out you don’t have to reinstall XP to install Vista from an upgrade disk, you just have to install Vista twice, first as essentially a trial, then “for real.”

In that situation, you don’t have to worry about XP product keys, deactivated or not, because there never is one.

However, if that’s the case, the way to “upgrade” is not to, but rather to use the trial/full method. That avoids any possibility of “deactivating” the XP key, and let you do what you like with XP (subject to XP’s activation restrictions; sticking an activated XP on a different system will likely find you calling Redmond, but it ought to work for a dual-boot).

Or MS could attempt competency, explain just what the hell they’re trying to achieve by this, and if they’re really out to deactivate numbers, just create a new activation screen for Vista upgrade disks where you put in both the XP and Vista keys in order to activate.

What a botch!

P.S. If your response to all this is “Who cares, I’m just going to buy an OEM copy,” tomorrow we’ll talk about the rather bigger shaft MS has you and especially your Dell-buying friends.


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