Here is a simpler way or hack to use the Windows Vista upgrade license and product key as full retail version, which you can use to install on any computer. Upgrade copy of Windows Vista is meant for owners of previous version of Windows operating system such as Windows XP and Windows 2000, and is available for purchase at cheaper price than full retail version. And unlike OEM version of Windows Vista which once installed will lock down to a particular motherboard and CPU, upgrade version has the flexibility to install on another machine just as the full retail version product key allowed once you uninstall Vista from the PC you have previously installed.

Windows Vista Ultimate Upgrade
Upgrade copy of Windows Vista is useful if you plan to upgrade your hardware in future but not right now, or when you don’t like the idea that when your computer breaks down, you will need to purchase a new OEM or full license for Windows Vista if there is major component change. However, as it’s meant for existing Windows customer, when install with upgrade product key, Windows Vista will need verification of ownership of a valid old version of Windows.

Note: It seems like all DVD media are almost the same or similar regardless of which version (upgrade, full or OEM) or edition (Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Business or Ultimate) of Windows Vista your purchased, probably as part of Windows Anytime Upgrade program. The only thing that matters is Windows Vista product key which will determine which version and edition of Vista you can use, activate and validate with WGA.

Here how you can install a upgrade key of Windows Vista as if full retail version, in one installation and one time activation, without the need of proof or actual ownership of any existing license or product key of Windows XP or Windows 2000. The steps are also good as replacement for official method provided by Microsoft to clean and fresh install of Windows Vista which involves troublesome 2 times installation, or the complicated official method to upgrade to Windows Vista, where you need to install Windows XP first and later install Windows Vista in order to upgrade. And it should work on all editions of Windows Vista, including Windows Vista Ultimate.

Steps to install upgrade copy of Windows Vista in one installation, works even without any existing license of Windows XP or Windows 2K

  1. Download retail Windows Vista media image or purchase the Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate UPGRADE [DVD].
  2. Install Windows Vista edition that corresponds with the license product key you purchased. If you purchase upgrade version of Windows Vista Ultimate, then install Vista U, else if you purchase Vista Home Premium, then install Vista HP.
  3. Do not enter any product key during installation. You will get 30-days evaluation copy of Windows Vista after installing.
  4. After Windows Vista setup completed, boot up into Windows Vista, and turn off UAC.
  5. Press Win+R keyboard shortcut to open command prompt.
  6. Issue the following command in command prompt to change the product key:cscript C:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs -ipk <upgrade product key>
  7. Enter the following command to activate Windows Vista online:cscript C:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs -ato
  8. Type the following command in command prompt to check and verify the activation result:cscript c:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs -dlv

    You should see that your Windows Vista has been activated.

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  • Alexander Parsan (Agent Spynam

    Still Works for Windows 8 and 8.1. Saved me loads of time with Answer Desk. Thanks so much!

  • Zenus

    download it, it's an activator for windows vista and 7, all version and edition…..

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  • Jason

    @BluDolphin You have to be at Windows and not booting DVD.

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  • afreetX

    dosen't work,


    C:Usersuser>cscript C:windowssystem32slmgr.vbs -ato

    Microsoft (R) Windows Script Host Version 5.7

    Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

    Activating Windows(TM) Vista, HomePremium edition (bffdc375-bbd5-499d-8ef1-4f37b

    61c895f) …

    Error: Product activation failed.


    any ideas?

  • Joe

    This works on Vista Ultimate (no SP). NOTE: You cannot have installed ANY updates for this to work…you must use vanilla Vista Upgrade.

    Also, you must include the dashes in the serial key…

  • BluDolphin

    I have different problem

    Currently running Vista Home Premium on my HP desktop (pre-insatlled) and I purchased Vista Ultimate (new and not upgrade).

    When I try to Install Vista Ultimate, the License key does not allow upgrade but only fresh install!

    Any ideas to upgrade?

  • Tony

    Does NOT work.

    error message (when polled) says that:

    this serial number is for upgrades and not clean installs.

  • cheapskate vista use

    Dam cheap . I can buy 9 legal copies of upgrade ultiamte with this .

    I have a $350 microsoft voucher.

    since microsoft has cut their prices 48%.


  • selva

    Please can u send my email the key windows vista ultimate

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  • bonzagazz

    I agree with the does not work comments. I tried with both retail and oem Business upgrade. Message says it´s a upgrade key and cannot perform a clean installation.

  • Tadger

    Yep, i've tried this with 2 upgrade keys, Ultimate and Home Premium… both give an an error code, and when i looked up the code it said that it wont work cos it ans upgrade.

    So I had to go back to the double-install method instead…

  • admin


    What command you use?

    VistaUserUpgrade, you have screenshot?

  • theblujuggalo

    I get "The syntax of the command is incorrect."

  • VistaUserUpgrade

    It doesn´t works. Even in prompt, Windows Vista says it´s a serial upgrade key and can perfon clean installation.

  • Very creative :D … .. do u think MS will patch this ??

  • Dan from MIS

    Its not a hack. Microsoft knows about all these commands .. who do you think put the scripting codes in there? Activation is the only important thing they need to make money. When someone finds a way to activate copies of Windows without going online to microsoft, that will be a true hack.

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  • zoe


  • zoe



  • Jug

    Too funny… :-)

    Well you can't complain about strict upgrade checks on Vista then, although that was ironically meant to be more tightly controlled than on XP.

    I wonder if MS will ship silently "revised" upgrade editions of Vista in the future to help patch against this, but at the moment it seems to be a pretty fool proof method. To Microsoft's activation server, it's still just a usual retail product key wanting access.