Vista 'Trick' Theorist Defends Loophole Claims


Earlier this month, the Windows Secrets newsletter reiterated claims it made last year that Microsoft is aware that users can clean install the fully functional, but cheaper upgrade edition of Vista on any machine, but doesn't want to actually stop them.

Microsoft denied this, and last week, Eric Ligman, Microsoft's senior manager of community engagement for small business in the U.S., railed against unnamed sources he accused of spreading misinformation and promoting software piracy.

But Brian Livingston, editorial director of, doesn't think that speculating on the reasons why Microsoft included the loophole in Vista, and why Microsoft didn't eliminate it in Vista SP1, is tantamount to supporting illegal behavior.

"No one is encouraging people to try to 'rip off' Windows for zero dollars," Livingston said. "One or two people might buy Vista without having any prior copy of Windows, but that would be a fraction of the people who are using this documented feature."

Sponsored post

On Tuesday, Ligman clarified his comments and said his references to "clueless people" weren't directed at the customers or readers of the Microsoft Small Business Community blog. "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,'" he wrote.

However, Livingston didn't back off his earlier claims that Microsoft is aware that it's possible for users to install Vista in this manner.

"Microsoft developers obviously included the clean install trick because security experts say you should not install one OS over another, but wipe out the old one and install the new one cleanly," said Livingston.

Livingston notes that Microsoft documents the procedure in its Knowledge Base through several "well thought-out" dialogue boxes. "If this is so bad, why didn't Microsoft eliminate it from Vista SP1?

"In the future, can responsible corporate users be assured that Vista service pack 2 will still have this feature? Will Microsoft assure us publicly that they'll keep this trick if it comes out with an SP2 for Vista?" Livingston said.

In an email to ChannelWeb, a Microsoft spokesperson said Microsoft has no specific information to share about future service packs at this time.