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No “Clean” Install of Vista Upgrades?

Here is a situation that I had not read about until it happened to me last night at (of course) 1:00 a.m., or should I say, this morning at 1:00 a.m.  Microsoft has changed the way upgrade versions of its Vista operating system install compared to previous operating systems.

In the past, even where you installed an upgrade version, you could do a “clean” install of the new operating system.  In other words, you could reformat the hard drive and install the new system without any of the legacy junk that you are upgrading from to get in the way.  Any consultant worth the money would tell you this was the way to go.  During the install process you were simply prompted to insert the CD from your previous system.  Granted, this system could be abused as there was the potential to share CDs and have multiple upgrade from the same CD.  While possible, this was always a violation of the license agreement.

Vista works differently, which I found out the hard way when my system stopped working.  Vista upgrades REQUIRE an in place upgrade.  This means that you cannot purchase a Vista upgrade CD, reformat your drive and start fresh with the upgrade, regardless of valid, registered ownership of a previous version eligible for upgrade.  If you try to install the upgrade with a clean install, you get a somewhat vague message warning you of this but can then proceed.  It is only 30 days later, when your “trial” period expires, that you are told you cannot do a “clean” install.  At that point, you have two options.  First, you can reformat your drive, install an upgradable operating system, upgrade, and reinstall everything that you have spent 30 days installing.  Second, you can purchase a new Vista product key.  Guess which one I did at – much later than 1:00 a.m.

After my system started working again, I did a little research.  There is apparently a way to do a clean upgrade that may or may be a violation of the license agreement.  As I don’t know for sure, I won’t elaborate here.

Did I miss the memo on this one?  Interestingly, I was never given an option to purchase a full version of Vista rather than an upgrade version.  I subscribe to the Microsoft Action Pack, a bundle of not for distribution Microsoft products that actually allows me ten Vista installs.  The Action Pack was, and still is a great value but the latest one includes only the upgrade version of Vista Business.  Unfortunately, I had to pay for a Vista license that nearly equaled the entire cost of the Action Pack.  Thanks Microsoft.

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