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All Vista versions to ship on single disc

Users will be able to upgrade between versions just by purchasing a new product key.

Microsoft has confirmed that all versions of Vista will be shipped on a single DVD, in a feature called Windows Anytime Upgrade.

The idea, said a company representative, is to let customers more easily and directly upgrade to a higher edition of Windows Vista from within their current edition. Vista is scheduled to reach consumers in January.

Users would be installing only the version of the operating system that they had purchased, as the product key would be version-specific. Versions range from Starter to Ultimate editions.

Asked if this system meant upgrades would be cheaper, as production and retail costs for Microsoft will be lowered, the representative declined to give pricing details.

The Microsoft representative also denied that Windows Anytime Upgrade would prove an attractive target for hackers, saying Vista was "the most secure version of Windows yet."

David Meyer of ZDNet UK reported from London.