Windows Anytime Upgrade Packs, in detail

Windows Vista Anytime Upgrade PackOnce upon a time, Windows didn’t come in different versions or flavors. You bought Windows and it was Windows from A to Z, or technically W to S. Some might call it better times, but times change and so have market demands. Since now we have 5 versions of Windows for the consumer market – although some insist to round-up to a bazillion, it only seems fair to be able to upgrade between versions when it is required, thus Windows Anytime Upgrade was born.

Up until May, Anytime Upgrade was only accessible through a proprietary online ordering system provided by Microsoft, limiting the availability and accessibility of those who either don’t have a credit card or simply aren’t comfortable with purchasing online. From May till now, Microsoft has been quietly offering these Upgrade Packs, an off-the-shelve product for Anytime Upgrade. Not much has been said about these packs, and it’s not even mention on Microsoft’s own website which made me wonder what Microsoft intends to do with these.

Windows Anytime UpgradeA Microsoft spokesperson had this to say,

When did Windows Anytime Upgrade become available through these Upgrade Packs?

The initial version of Windows Anytime Upgrade was available at consumer launch in North America and EMEA on January 30th in the form of a card with a product key. Since then, we’ve redesigned the SKU to also offer a pack with a DVD and a product key inside. The English version of this pack was made available in the North America, EMEA and APAC markets in May, with localized SKUs made available in June. In the US market, the Windows Anytime Upgrade Pack is available as a service upgrade at retailers and can be purchased on Amazon or at Circuit City and Best Buy. In EMEA and APAC customers can purchase the pack through several different software distributors and retailers.

How does that work – is a reseller still involved in some way? Or are the bits available directly from MS on CD/DVD (with a new product key)?

Upgrade Packs are available through direct retail in response to requests from our retail partners. Direct retail offers customers the choice of another way to acquire WAU, coexisting with the online WAU model. When customers purchase the upgrade at, they receive a digital certificate download and product key. With the upgrade pack, customers insert the DVD, enter the product key and proceed with the upgrade. The bits are also available on a WAU DVD that they can purchase at the same time.

To me this sounds like the ideal alternative for Anytime Upgrades. From a user’s point-of-view, purchasing software online is a scary thing. The question everyone asks is, what happens if you lose the electronic key or digital license? Even with all the fanciness and wrapping of “Digital Locker“, it is still a tough choice over something you can hold on to and gather dust on your bookshelf.

If anyone’s interested in upgrading their version of Windows Vista to Ultimate for any other reason than to enjoy the luxuries of Windows Ultimate Extrasbecause they don’t exist, then check out these Upgrade Packs.

11 insightful thoughts

  1. “they receive a digital certificate download and product key.”

    This is not true, this is a flat out lie, I upgraded a laptop from home basic to premium through windowsmarketplace and all you get a digital certificate to install before the upgrade, no new product key which means the next time I have to install basic first and then upgrade again.

    I contacted microsoft about it and all they said is “you purchased an upgrade” they just didn’t get what I was asking.

    Of course you should get a new key so you can install to the level you paid for directly, but that isn’t true if you purchase using windowsmarketplace.

  2. I wonder if you could get that “spokesperson for microsoft” to clarify what he said about receiving a product key since the windowsmarketplace support does not seem to know anything about that.

  3. Not sure what you are talking about, they do not have two sites where they sell upgrades, you’ll end up at sooner or later from that site, although I cannot see anything other than info on the site you linked to.

    If this really is separate from windows marketplace (which is also linked from inside Vista) then it’s just another level of confusion from Microsoft, like it wasn’t enough with the five editions of vista.

  4. We’re talking about two different upgrades here. There are the XP (or other older version of Windows) to Vista upgrades, which, like you said, are sold on marketplace or in stores.

    Then the are the in version upgrades ( Vista to Vista), which are essentially WAU and are sold at or other retailers as described above.

    If look at the process from an end goal stand point, it’s actually not that confusing. You either want to upgrade To Vista or From Vista to a higher edition.

  5. There are three types of upgrade.

    Xp > Vista
    Vista > Vista (w/o Anytime Upgrade Disc)
    Vista > Vista (w/ Anytime Upgrade Disc)

    The difference between the last two are $50-$100 and it seems the only way to actually purchase the AU is with said Disc.

  6. Can you use this DVD to re-install Windows Vista on a machine that already has it, using the OEM serial number that came with your computer?

  7. Is there an Anytime Upgrade that works just like a VLK which can be used on several win 7 PCs? Or do I need to get separate WAU keys for each PC.

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