MS makes Vista available to download legally

Written by Wil Harris

January 19, 2007 | 11:36

Tags: #digital #download #vista #windows #windows-marketplace

Companies: #microsoft

Microsoft has taken the novel step of allowing users to buy Vista online and download it. It will be available through the Windows Marketplace at the same time as retail copies - although only to customers in the States, initially.

Previous versions of Windows have only been sold on physical media, with the thought being that digital distribution makes things easier to copy.

Digital distribution of Windows marks a change in strategy and attitude in Microsoft, when it comes to piracy. Digital distribution is a recognition that physical media, no matter what the copy protection, is not hard to copy, and so the answer to piracy does not lie in making things harder to copy - it lies, as MS has proved with Windows Genuine Advantage, in making copied software useless unless authorised.

It's also an indication of Microsoft's direction when it comes to digital distribution - we've already seen Xbox 360 starting to move content acquisition online, and this is an indication that Windows is going the same way.

MS clearly has confidence in its ability to prevent pirated copies of Windows from being authorised for use, especially given the lack of 'FCKGW' business keys this time around.

This is especially true, given that all versions of Vista come on the one DVD. Whether you buy Home Basic or Ultimate, you'll get the same disc - the only difference is the activation key which brings online your desired version. Clearly, Microserfs are supremely sure that its latest authorisation technology will keep users honest. Given what we've seen of hacking Vista so far, they could well be right - keeping Vista hacked is possibly more hassle than its worth.

Microsoft also announced its plan for family licenses for the operating system. If you buy Ultimate, with its extravagant price tag, you can get two licenses for Home Premium for a mere $50 each, meaning you can legally upgrade your parents' computer, rather than leaving them in an XP-laden lurch.

Will you upgrade to Vista? Have you had much joy in hacking it? Let us know your thoughts over in the forums.
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