Microsoft Senior Sales Excellence Manager - Eric Ligman

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An upgrade is an upgrade. Apparently some people are easily confused.

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An upgrade is an upgrade. Apparently some people are easily confused.

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Below is the first post.  You can find the follow-up here: An upgrade is an upgrade. Apparently some people are easily confused – Part 2.

It seems that there are some people out there who don’t quite get the concept of an upgrade.  These people are even writing articles fully articulating how little they know (and unfortunately, confusing many customers with these non-factual writings).  Because of this, I am going to explain it again and even use pictures to try to make this very simple…

You can buy a software full license that gets you the rights to install and run the software. You can buy a software upgrade license that allows you to upgrade from the full license you have to the upgraded product you purchased the upgrade for.

For instance:

General Example Example with Product Names
image image

To qualify for an upgrade license, you MUST have a full license to upgrade from first. Without the full license, you have nothing to upgrade from and an upgrade from nothing gets you nothing:

General Example Example with Product Names
image image

So if you see any of these people writing that buying an upgrade by itself (Windows Vista Upgrade for instance) without having a full license first gets you the rights to run the software, just realize that what the person is actually stating is, “I clearly have no clue what I am talking about and so I am writing a bunch of gibberish that proves this hoping people will think I have a clue, even though I obviously don’t.”

If they continue to tell you that, “But I can get it to physically install, so it must be legal,” this further shows their complete lack of comprehension. Just because something will install does not make it legal. For example, a pirated piece of software will (usually) physically install; however, running pirated software is 100% illegal (and who knows what else it will install on or do to your computer). If you don’t believe me, try calling 888-NO-PIRACY and letting them know that you are running pirated software throughout your company. Explain to them that you feel it is legal to do so because you got it to physically install, so it must be legal and ask if they would mind auditing your company to verify the legality of this. Let me know how that turns out for you.

NOTE: For anyone who missed my complete tone of sarcasm there, I am in no way condoning the installation or use of pirated software. As mentioned above (in red), it is 100% illegal to do so, and if you choose to really be foolish enough to try the above actions, you and you alone are fully responsible for any and all legal actions taken against you.  So I would advise you to use your one phone call to contact your legal counsel instead of telling me how this turned out, as I already have a pretty good idea of what the results will be for you.

While I really can’t believe I have to put that ridiculous note on my post, just the fact that there are people writing articles advising people to illegally install software that they are not licensed for “because they can get it to physically install” just shows how clueless some people are and how willing they are to try to confuse other with their articles. And just in case one of these writers happens to read this, I want to make sure they are not confused by the paragraph above. If you are one of those people, let me put it this way, “It is not ok to do so. It is BAD to do so.” There, no words bigger than three letters, so that should hopefully be easy enough to follow.

To answer some follow-up questions I have received since posting this:  Yes, please feel free to forward the link to this post directly to the authors of those articles who are stating that the upgrade alone is legal to use without owning a full license first.  Make sure to have them read the sentence with small words too so they don't give excuses like, "It's too hard to understand the legalese," etc.

FOOTNOTE:  There have been questions as to who this post is targeted at and the concept of the "loophole" seems to be in question as well.  I did address these in the comments below through my reply to one reader; however, I thought I would append it here to the post as well to avoid any ambiguity.  Here is what I posted in the comments below, "Thank you for the feedback.  My intention is not to be condescending to my readers.  To be very clear, my comments above about the "clueless people" are not directed at the customers or my readers.  They are directed at those trying to confuse the customers by telling them that it is OK to do this "just because it physically installs."  (Which is why I went back and added the footer to please forward my post to the authors of those articles)  As an example, I even conducted an interview early last year with one of the online publications writing about this now and explained in plain English that the physical ability to do this is not a "loophole," it provides a way for technology Partners to help clients who are legally licensed for Windows Vista (meaning they have the qualifying full license first) to perform a clean install vs. doing an in place upgrade.  Yet here we are, over a year later, and the same "It's a loophole and must be legal to not own the full license," gibberish is being published by that same publication that only confuses customers with non-factual information.  Considering I explained it very directly before and they still don't seem to get it, I thought I would publish it in REALLY simple terms this time for all to view.  Yes, I agree whole heartedly that customers of all sizes should engage with their technology Partners for how to buy information vs. relying on publications, like the ones referred to above, that seem to rely on sensationalism and speculation."

You can find the follow-up here: An upgrade is an upgrade. Apparently some people are easily confused – Part 2.

Thank you and have a wonderful day,

Eric Ligman
Microsoft US Senior Manager
Small Business Community Engagement
This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights

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  • @ CAT - Yes, piracy is by far a larger issue.  Not only for us, but for the entire industry, and one we continue to work against.

  • Maybe if Microsoft actually produced a product that was not complete junk (Vista) then more users would be willing to pay for it and follow the EULA. Sales are down for Vista, more people than ever are switching back to XP, even if they have to pay another $100-200 to do so.

    So what good is blasting those that use the "upgrade" version in this manner when a majority of them will likely remove it and go back to XP within the first month? Microsoft is still making money off of it regardless of how it is actually used.

    Piracy with Vista is at an all time low. Why pirate something that is pretty much useless? The driver API screwed the users out of direct kernel usage of their hardware which is how 95% of hardware is meant to be used. Since there is that emulation layer in the name of "security", performance is 25-40% lower in Vista when compared directly to XP.


    I hope the developers for Windows 7 are keeping a close eye on the community and do decide to use the modular and kernel based setup, similar to a linux kernel. Keep it light and simple without the useless junk. You can only pile so much luggage on to a car roof before it all comes tumbling down or crushes the very base that holds it up.

  • @ Richard - So you are saying that having different editions of the software such as Vista Ultimate, Vista Business, Vista Home, etc. changes the understanding of the difference between a FULL LICENSE and an UPGRADE LICENSE, even though the upgrade package has the following marked directly on the front of the package: a red "UPGRADE" banner with "For users running Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional, Windows XP, or Windows Vista only."  If you don't own a Windows license already, how would you be one of the qualified people for the upgrade under that statement on the front of the box?

  • While you're at it, could you do us all a favor?

    Fix Vista.


    Oh, and let's not forget Jeff Raikes comment regarding piracy:

    "If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes

  • I bought Vista. The "loophole" in question was the only way I could get Vista to install. When I (down)graded to Vista it was completely unstable and many things didn't work. Rather than reloading my ghosted XP and trying for a third time I went ahead and used this workaround. I have a legal purchased OEM Windows XP Home that had only ever been run on this machine. Oh and it turned out the "Vista Compatible" video card I purchased a mere week before Vista's release never did work in Vista fully. After reloading many times trying to get Vista to work, my license was flagged and I had to check in with Microsoft. I've tried to load Vista in numerous times since, usually on a new driver release- Each time checking in with microsoft. Even after disabling all the eye candy, UAC, and other new "features" it's still less stable, less compatible, and slower than XP by a large margin. I have since given up and Vista sits on a shelf unused. Can I have my $179 back now? I bought your product in good faith that it would be an improvement over the last iteration, rather it's like a pretty blonde. Nice to look at, but nothing upstairs.

  • The latest Gartner poll reveals that illegal copies of Vista are still trailing illegal copies of XP at the same point in its lifecycle.

    It seems people just don't want it that bad, legal, illegal, or even free.

  • Instead of ranting about people exploiting an upgrade, why not rant about your "clueless" programers that wrote the FLAWED upgrade in the first place!

    PS FIX VISTA then whine.

  • Hey guys,

    The people who made Vista worked really hard on it and delayed the release on it and put out free betas to try to get it as good as possible. The people saying "fix Vista" should have got the Betas and reported all errors. Even then, there would still be problems. But tell me software that doesn't have problems.

    "Clueless", if you're so much better than the "clueless PROGRAMERS" [IT'S "PROGRAMMERS"], then you should apply for a job and do a better job coding.

    That said, Vista looks cool but isn't very good. I installed the beta, used it for a bit, and then uninstalled it. I'm very happy with XP, it's great! But Vista is slow and bulky and buggy. Just looks good.


    Stop selling Vista and just work really hard on the upcoming one. Delay it for 8 years and make it ridiculously awesome, make people crxp themselves.

    Continue selling XP but include a Vista skin. Upgrade all current users to XP+SKIN.


  • For anyone at Microsoft to whine about anything having to do with Vista is an aberration and insult to the million or so paying customers stuck with this OS.

  • Hey here is an idea Eric!

    Maybe if Microsoft offered Vista at a decent price and without all the confusing 'editions', more people would be inclined to pay for the full copy of the software.

    AS to people not knowing the difference between an upgrade and a full version, they know, they just don't care. You've priced the product in such a fashion that they do not see the 'value' in paying the higher price.

  • You know, I have absolutely zero sympathy for any of this because you brought it on yourselves.  There was time when a software purchase could be treated like any  other copyrighted work.  Then you guys decided that you needed tiers, licenses, and EULA's to confuse and monetize the heck out of customers with OEM, upgrade, student versions etc.  Now you're annoyed because people are gaming the system  right back at you.  You are actively deceiving others when you call this 'illegal', implying that there are laws against it.  Sure you can *can* sue your customers for not following 10 page abusive EULA's.

    Good luck with that.  

    I'm done with your products, Eric.

  • Dump Vista, get Linux. 100% Legal, give to your friends, install on ANY computer/device you want. Did I say free?

    I take from this post, Microsoft it against all "clueless" people and proves the consumers are smarter then!

    This comment is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.

  • Now you will know not to release 10 different versions of the same OS and create confusion to end users.

  • Yo, Eric...

    Please waste your time to your Microsoft engineers' colleagues to really go back to square one and start over with Windows 1.0 again.

    Vista is a scam and it is not worth it!

    We already quit Windows!

  • These users are exploiting a flaw in the upgrade model so they can purchase a genuine copy of Vista at a more reasonable price.

    Microsoft should be thrilled; the fact that any sane person would even be willing to purchase the "upgrade" version is amazing.

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