If you’ve fallen for the latest round of breathless posts about how you can save a lot of money by buying an upgrade version of Vista and using it for a clean install on new hardware, please go to ZDNet and read my latest post:
I wrote about this way back in February 2007, when the same sources issued the same breathless reports. Nothing has changed since then. If you qualify for an upgrade license, this technique allows you to do a clean install, legally. If you don’t qualify for an upgrade license, then doing a clean install with this technique is technically possible but violates the terms of the license agreement. That distinction seems to be lost on the folks who are dredging up this old story. So allow me to explain, again.
Short version: How you do the install (clean versus upgrade) is a completely separate issue from the license you purchase:
- If you have a PC with an old version of Windows that qualifies for an upgrade, you can buy an upgrade version of Vista and do a clean install. Legally.
- If you are setting up a new PC (or a virtual machine) that does not currently have a Windows license that qualifies for an upgrade, you need either a full retail license or an OEM copy. Although you can use an upgrade version to do a clean install in that circumstance, in that case you are violating the terms of the license agreement.
Why is this so hard for people to understand?