Vista "upgrade" drops compliance checking, requires old OS to install

Microsoft’s quest to closely control the way Windows Vista can be used on PCs has taken a turn for the worse as new information indicates that the company is breaking tradition when it comes to Windows Vista upgrades. With Windows Vista, users will not be able to use upgrade keys to initiate completely new installations. It is a change that will affect few users, but enthusiasts will certainly be amongst those pinched.

Upgrade versions of Windows Vista Home Basic, Premium, and Starter Edition will not install on any PC unless Windows XP or Windows 2000 is already on the machine in question. In years previous, upgrade versions of Windows could be installed on any PC. If a PC did not have an older version of Windows installed, users could provide an older installation CD of Windows for verification. After dropping a qualifying CD in the CD-ROM drive, the installation routine would verify the disc and you’d be on your way. With this approach, one could use an “upgrade” copy of Windows to lay a new Windows install on a computer.

This is awesome! When I have to reinstall someone’s Vista upgrade, I have to install XP first! Twice the time, twice the money! Sweet!

(I better make sure I take a copy on War & Peace with me…)

PS: Microsoft, you suck donkey dicks.

It is dumb.

My solution is to make a bare installation of XP, then do an image backup to a DVD or CD. No drivers, nuthin’. Use that if the upgrade version ever needs to be reinstalled.

Note that this should be fairly rare.

What I don’t know – and as soon as we get our boxed, retail upgrade copies – is if that means you can’t simply do a repair install, or if this “feature” only applies to a new, full install.

Your solution would work for the single office PC I’ll put Vista on for learning purposes. It’s not going to work for Joe User who upgraded XP to Vista. If I didn’t have to learn how to fix Vista for my business, I would avoid it altogether.

Remember the Windows 95 to 98 upgrade? Same thing.

From what I’ve read, Vista Upgrade does do a “clean” install, even if you’ve got a hosed, virus-ridden, XP install. It install Vista cleanly, and then pulls in some of your application settings and data/document files. If your XP has all sorts of spyware dll’s, etc., they shouldn’t be present after the upgrade is complete.

This dosn’t address the PITA process of needing XP on your drive, but the new upgrade process should reduce some of the cruftiness seen in previous OS upgrades.

I’m sure sites like PC Mag and Extremetech will do all sorts of Upgrading articles detailing how the process worked out on various machines.

There’s a possible workaround to this requirement, though. Check this article out.

I’m pretty sure Win98 would allow you to put a Win95 floppy disk or CD in the drive during its upgrade installation to “verify”.

It is a change that will affect few users

Re-quoted for truth.

Don’t care about this. It is a non-issue for me. I haven’t reinstalled Windows XP in over 3 years on one of my systems and it still runs great.

The only issue I have with Vista is the price is too high for something I don’t really need, thus I’m still running XP. I’m sure I’ll eventually upgrade to Vista, but I don’t feel the need right now.

That must be the system you don’t use. Whatever, I’m glad it’s not a big problem for you. It is a major pain for me.

I had to totally reinstall XP twice last year, once after a catastrophic registry wipe, and once after a major hardware upgrade. XP installations have pretty much been an annual ritual since I started using it.

Still… at the same time… what the heck do you think “upgrade” means anyway?

— Alan

Nope, I use it daily. Install/uninstall games on it, develop C++ apps, the whole 9 yards. Never seen a need to reinstall it. I just run a defrag every few months and it works like a charm.

I had to totally reinstall XP twice last year, once after a catastrophic registry wipe

Sounds like a user problem. Why did you wipe the registry?

and once after a major hardware upgrade.

I’ve also done major hardware upgrades and all I had to do was call Microsoft and they did some black magic and lo and behold my XP install reactivated without a reinstall. Took between 5 and 10 minutes including navigating phone system time.

If I was considering upgrading, this would dissuade me. I was planning to wait for a new machine, though.

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Creative’s own drivers have fucked up my system enough that I don’t use them
anymore. Bad hardware can totally destroy any system, no matter what OS you run.

On the other hand, I’ve run on Creative sound cards since the original Sound Blaster. I have definitely had problems with games, especially with the original Sound Blaster Live, but have never, ever had a sound card or audio driver create an OS problem.

Oh, wait, I take that back. I’ve had integrated audio lock up systems hard, and one time, the lockup resulted in a corrupted boot drive. It was only a test system, so no valuable data was lost. But I’ve never encountered anything that serious with an Creative card.

If you want to do clean installs, you’re better off buying the OEM full verison. $119 for Home Premium. $199 for Ultimate.

Absolutely true.

For those that can’t get to the article that I linked to above, here’s a relevant portion:

I haven’t tested this yet, as I don’t have Vista Upgrade media to test, but I’m told that Microsoft’s internal documentation does explain how to clean install Vista using an Upgrade version. It appears to be more of a workaround than a true clean install, however. Here’s what it says.

  1. Boot with the Windows Vista Upgrade DVD.
  2. Click “Install Now.”
  3. Do not enter a Product Key When prompted.
  4. When prompted, select the Vista product edition that you do have.
  5. Install Vista normally.
  6. Once the install is complete, restart the DVD-based Setup from within Windows Vista. Perform an in-place upgrade.
  7. Enter your Product Key when prompted.

You may not need a WinXP installation, but you’re still going to take some extra time to do this, I expect.

Isn’t one of the issues claimed by critcs with the OEM version that your license is invalidated by an even stricter set of hardware upgrades than the normal upgrade editions?

The clean install trick where you install first without entering a product key, then start the install from within the first worked on my upgrade copy of Vista Ultimate, which did in fact complain the first time about not having an existing copy of XP.

The license isn’t invalidated. While I don’t know if the OEM version has a tighter set of hardware chance scoring rules, all that would be needed worst case is a call to the big pimp and get a re-activation.