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If looking to upgrade a number of workstations running XP to Windows 7 is it ok to purchase one Vista license and in sequence

  • upgrade from XP to Vista
  • Run some tests
  • upgrade from Vista to Windows 7

The Vista license is now available to be used on the next XP workstation

Does anyone see any potential issues with this from a licensing point of view?

From a cost point of view the money for one Vista license seems a good payoff against the time of backup, clean install and application re-install of the suggested XP to Windows 7 path.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Updated: The various unexplainable and lurking problems with the systems you're bound to get after two in-place upgrades in a row are usually not worth the hassle or time saved. How many clients are we talking about and how many different software packages?

If you don't have a neat written manual step-by-step instruction today on how to do a quick clean install with all the settings and all the applications needed to get going - now's a good a time as any to fix that. You want to have that routine nailed.

As for the original question, I'd contact your nearest Microsoft partner's licensing department - they'll be happy to sort this out for free.

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The purpose is the save rebuilding the machine and having to re-install all application software after the clean install of Windows 7. I'm exploring the Vista option as there is a supported upgrade path. – MadMurf Nov 6 '09 at 0:06

Windows licenses are not transferrable between computers.

You can do this legally if you purchase Windows Vista licenses with Software Assurance.

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I think that MS Licensing would agree with you here. As the upgrade path is xp->vista->7 so vista would be required on all workstations to be legal – Wayne Nov 6 '09 at 0:13
The key thing for the guy asking the question is that Windows Vista retail box that he has isn't a "1 concurrent runtime license". Once its installed, it's associated with that computer. – duffbeer703 Nov 6 '09 at 1:13
@duffbeer: That isn't true, the only Windows license that is locked to the hardware is an OEM license. Retail licenses ARE 1 concurrent runtime license. WGA may make you think otherwise but if you go over your three activations you just call them up and tell them you removed it from the old machine and they will happily activate it for you. – Zypher Nov 6 '09 at 1:16
@Zypher: Not true. "License Model: The software is licensed on a per copy per device basis." Source:… – duffbeer703 Nov 6 '09 at 13:11
@Zypher: The only exceptions that I am aware of are some non-profit and K-12 EAs. If you are one of those exceptions, you're going to be aware of that fact. – duffbeer703 Nov 6 '09 at 13:13

Why do you need a vista license, and why would you upgrade to Vista if your end goal is to run Windows 7? Depending on the license you are probably eligible to upgrade directly from XP to Windows 7.

From a cost point of view the money for one Vista license seems a good payoff against the time of backup, clean install and application re-install

I think you are not taking into account the time you will have to spend waiting through two longish installs, and then trying to troubleshoot all the issues that will arise because you haven't done clean installs.

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Two longish installs of the operating system but saving the time of the installs of all of the applications that are already installed on the XP machine. Thats the trade off I'm looking at. – MadMurf Nov 6 '09 at 0:08

Here's the problem with Microsoft licensing: It varies from place to place and is, at the best of times, a moving target. Get advice from the Microsoft branch that deals with your locality. Answers provided by others may be correct for them by that doesn't mean they're correct for you. If it comes to the crunch you're not going to get away with incorrect licensing by saying someone on a web site told you it was OK.

Having said that, I have to agree with what Oskar said about in place upgrades. That's never been a desirable way to go and you're looking at doing it twice. I personally always view an upgrade as the perfect time to do a fresh install and clean out all that crud that Windows machines cumulate. Long run it's worth the extra effort.

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I'm unsure what a lot of this discussion has to do with, as, at least here in Canada, Win7 upgrade licenses are valid when upgrading from XP as well as Vista. So you shouldn't need any Vista licenses or installs, just go straight to Win7.

Check the usage terms on your specific licenses, of course.

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The issue is that he wants to do an in-place upgrade, which isn't supported with Windows 7. – duffbeer703 Nov 6 '09 at 1:13
Oh, gotcha. Yeah. That's not supported, but it's generally not a great idea anyway, since Windows tends to lose important config and install information in an upgrade, jumping two versions just exacerbates this. I'd recommend doing a fresh install regardless. – Graeme Nov 6 '09 at 16:16

If the applications are largely the same on each computer, look at using Group Policy (for AD) or WPKG (NT domain/Samba/no domain) to roll out software. WPKG doesn't even require it to be in .msi format, so you can install from many .exe installers too.

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