Vista upgrade customers could quickly become irritated if they plan to do a clean install to their computer system. The reason being that Microsoft has designed the upgrade operating system to work only with computers that has the previous Window OS already installed. Microsoft has long pushed for the per machine license instead of the per consumer license, similar to the Office software license, and that is what’s behind the change.
A clean install technique is the installation of a Windows operating system on a new or freshly erased hard drive using an upgrade Windows CD and license. To complete an installation of a Windows upgrade OS, the system asks you to for a compliance check. A compliance check insures that you are not illegally trying to install the upgrade OS by asking you to insert the basic operating system CD and enter the required verification number that accompanies it. Using the clean install technique saves time and effort for the person doing it, and has been used by both the computer savvy and the computer amateur for over a decade.
The only way to install the Vista upgrade is if a Windows XP or 2000 operating system is already installed. The change is caused by the fact that a clean install is tied to the pc hardware, where the Vista upgrade is tied to the previous installed operating system.
What this change means to someone that has never or will never again install an operating system is minimal. The cost of paying a pro to install Vista through an upgrade CD might rise slightly, and the amount of time before being able to pick up the pc from the shop could lengthen by a day.
To a tech professional or hobbyist, the ramifications are more serious. Many people, such as me, like to refresh their system periodically by erasing the hard drive and doing a new installation of the operating system. For instance, although XP has a full recovery option, it is not as thorough and remnants of previous programs and files remain hidden in the system. Therefore, it is in my best interest to complete a hard drive erase and reinstall my operating system. Whereas before I could install the operating system in one swoop using the clean install technique, the Vista upgrade will require me to complete my XP installation, and then a second installation of Vista.
Another serious ramification is in store for those that build their own customized pc. Say you have a store bought pc with XP or 2000, and buy the Vista upgrade. If you plan to also use that upgrade on the clean hard drive of your just built pc- then you are out of luck. Don’t worry though, Microsoft has a plan for these situations. They suggest that you “purchase a license that allows you to do a clean installation of Windows Vista”. In other words, they are telling you not to buy one of the Vista upgrades which cost between $99.95 to $259, but the more expensive full version of Vista which costs $199 to $399.99.