As you should know, the upgrade version of Windows Vista is cheaper for existing Windows user as a way of thank, reward and strategy to retain customer by Microsoft. However, you need a license or product key of Windows 2000 or Windows XP edition to qualify for the Vista upgrade pricing and subsequently able to use the Vista upgrade DVD and upgrade key to install an upgrade copy of new operating system. If you don’t currently use or own Windows XP or Windows 2K (official and legal is that you can only upgrade to Vista from these two editions of previous version of Windows), may be just using Windows Me/98/95 or Linux, or for whatever reason you’re unable to buy OEM version of Windows Vista which is even cheaper, you can actually purchase an upgrade version of Windows Vista instead of paying expensive price for full retail version, but use the upgrade key as if it’s a full retail product key.

Windows Vista has a unique Windows Anytime Upgrade program that makes Microsoft stores every edition of Windows Vista 32-bit and 64-bit on any Windows Vista DVD media. It also has a policy that allows you to install any edition Windows Vista without product key and use the OS in evaluation or trial mode for 30 days (can be extended to 120 days). Vista also has a problem that you unable to perform clean fresh install by using an upgrade license key as Vista doesn’t perform upgrade compliance check. All these factors combined creates an opportunity where you can actually use the cheaper upgrade license key of Windows Vista to install a full retail version of Windows Vista, based on the workaround that Microsoft presents to solve the unable to clean install with upgrade key problem. The trick will require no CD or product key of previous version of Windows OS for verification of ownership or authenticity.

  1. Purchase an Upgrade copy of Windows Vista (Business, Home Premium and Home Basic edition should work, Business and Ultimate edition not certain).
  2. Install Windows Vista (your purchased edition) without input any product key.
  3. Boot up into Windows Vista after installed.
  4. From within Windows Vista, launch Windows Vista setup again for the second time.
  5. Install Windows Vista again (your purchased edition), and type your purchased valid and genuine product key this time for activation.

NEW: Even easier hack method to fresh install upgrade edition of Windows Vista with just one installation!

Detailed instruction can be found here. The downside is obvious, you have to install Windows Vista twice, however, you should be able to get a Windows Vista installation that is the same with the one you get if you purchase full license and product key of Windows Vista.

Note that as the upgrade installation keys are blocked symptom only happens in Windows Vista Business, Home Premium, Home Basic and Starter (you wouldn’t use this) edition, so it’s not clear if the trick will work on Windows Vista Ultimate. Beside, the trick is just yet an idea, not yet been proven. If you have an upgrade copy of Vista product key and a DVD (all Windows Vista DVD should be the same or similar), you can try it out and feedback on the finding.

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