Windows Vista forum

General discussion

Unable to activate Windows Vista

by Lung Men / April 21, 2009 10:09 AM PDT

I find myself in a position that would no doubt make anyone very mad. After buying the original Microsoft Windows for Workgroups 3.x years ago and then upgrading to Win 95, Win98, Win 98SE, Win XP Home, Win XP pro and finally to Windows Vista Premium less than two years ago, I am now being told that I can?t activate it and that I have to buy another copy. Here are the facts:

Having Win XP Pro on my PC, I upgraded to Windows Vista Premium and later upgraded my motherboard and installed a larger SATA hard disk. Of course, this hardware upgrade required that I reinstall Windows Vista and this in turn requires reactivation of the OS.

But when I got around to do this activation yesterday, I received an error code and a message that said something like

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by John.Wilkinson / April 21, 2009 11:29 AM PDT

Unfortunately, it sounds as if proper protocol has been followed. An upgrade license comes at a reduced cost because it requires ownership of a previous qualifying version. Further, because of past abuse of the system, inserting the CD of the previous version during installation is no longer sufficient for proving prior ownership. Instead, an actual upgrade installation is typically required. There is a known workaround, where you can install Windows Vista without entering your product key, then upgrade to Windows Vista using your upgrade product key, thus avoiding having to install Windows XP first, carrying over any remnants it may have. However, this process typically takes longer than installing Windows XP and then upgrading to Windows Vista since the Windows Vista installation takes longer than Windows XP's. It is just part of the compromise for the reduced price.

Also, complaints to representatives in the activation department are logged, and there is no formal complaints department for such situations, so you have more or less exhausted the feedback options. Thus, my advice is to install Windows XP, then upgrade to Windows Vista, as was originally intended.


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Unable to activate Windows Vista
by Lung Men / April 22, 2009 7:24 AM PDT
In reply to: Unfortunately...

Thank you for replying.

Other than spending another $150 for a new Product Key, as you say, the only other way out of this situation is to reinstall my old Win XP and then upgrade to Vista. I will do that if I can find my Win XP CD and if it is not too scratchy.

One more reason to get my Vista properly working again is that I will need it when the time comes to upgrade to Windows 7. Otherwise, I will not be able to buy the upgrade package and I will have to spend $300 or more for the full version of that new OS..

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Is this about backup?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 22, 2009 8:55 AM PDT

None of the Windows CD or DVDs are copy protected. For less than one dollar you can have a backup copy.

Sounds like you should do this soon.

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You can't upgrade from XP Pro
by anmor / April 22, 2009 10:17 AM PDT

to Vista Home Premium, a clean instalation is required, this is why you can't get help from Microsoft as you only have an upgrade disk.
This leaves you with the option that John mentioned using the work around. Google for "clean installing Vista with upgrade disk".
While Microsoft left the door open to do this, they won't tell you about it.
There may even be posts on Cnet forums in the archives.

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Good catch...
by John.Wilkinson / April 22, 2009 12:44 PM PDT

I overlooked the detail of going from Windows XP Professional to Windows Vista Home Premium. That indeed necessitates the alternative I suggested.


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Unable to activate Windows Vista
by Lung Men / April 23, 2009 8:18 AM PDT
In reply to: Good catch...

I am not sure I understand the point being made in the last few posts that ? you can?t upgrade from XP Pro to Vista Home Premium?. It may just be that we interpret the word ?upgrade? differently. If we take upgrade to mean passing from the use of a less efficient or older version or distribution of Windows to a more efficient or newer version or distribution, then upgrading from XP Pro to Vista Premium is possible.

When I saw those statements, I asked myself

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Try THis
by Incognito60 / April 24, 2009 10:12 PM PDT

I have used an upgrade of vista as a clean install many times by first installing Vista, but when it asks you for the product key leave it blank. This will then ask to input product key later. Click yes and continue with installation.
Once Vista is installed, start the OS then insert the Vista disk again following installation steps but this time put in the product key. In the next screen it will show install or upgrade. Choose upgrade and continue.
This is a known trick by Microsoft and they do accept it.
Hope this helps and you don;t have to go via XP then Vista.


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To Lung Man
by Jonmor68 / April 25, 2009 8:49 AM PDT

As you stated in your post " I understood I could first reinstall my old Windows XP and then reinstall Windows Vista over it" that is the reason I said you can't upgrade, meaning you couldn't run Vista from within XP (in place upgrade).
That is what most consider an upgrade as they don't want to loose their data and programs, which is why I said a clean install is required for XP Pro.
I'm sorry if this mislead you.

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Vista to Vista Upgrade
by Zouch / April 25, 2009 7:16 AM PDT

There is a very good description and discussion of this technique in the Windows Secrets Newsletter by editor Brian Livingstone. It is a completely legitimate technique and will avoid the "bags and baggage" from an XP installation upgrade.

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Activating Vista
by Bshearston / May 10, 2009 6:12 PM PDT

My Vista was preloaded on a new PC. I have spent many hours trying to activate it, finally resorting to a Destructive recovery and reinstalling all the lost programmes. this is not acceptable. i now create a restore point and have to resort to this every 15 days.Having read all the reports on cnet i think it is a very poor system.

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I've seen this.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 10, 2009 9:14 PM PDT
In reply to: Activating Vista

After a week of tinkering with a activation issue we tracked it down to a trojan. Now there are far too many out there for me to say that this one is what is causing your issue but its sad that activation had to get into the Windows OS at all since it just makes troubles like yours.

For most the fix will be to start over with the system restore media since I'm not finding two things in the PC supports channels. 1. Customers willing to pay for support. 2. Support staff capable of fixing the issue without using the restore media.


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