Some Facts about Microsoft Windows Vista OEM Licensing:
Clarification 1: Pirating is bad. However, before you assume you are pirating, make sure you understand what is already included in the license you own. If you have a 32-bit version of Windows Vista, you are entitled to activating a 64-bit install of Windows Vista, with the caveat Microsoft intended you to run one or the other, not both at the same time (not going to comment directly if they actually enforce that distinction or not). If you have access to a 64-bit Ultimate DVD and use that to install and feed it your legitimate product key, that is one way to get 64-bit installed and activated on your PC that has a genuine 32-bit Windows Vista license today. The 64-bit DVD comes bundled with the Windows Vista Ultimate retail box FYI, with only one product key.
Clarification 2: Windows is licensed differently, for OEM vs. Retail, with different product keys. However, the media is identical if unmodified by the OEM and will accept product keys from either. So if you can get your hands on the media, have a Genuine license of Windows Vista, and aren't expecting OEM support if you install anything other than their official recovery solution, it's fairly easy to get to 64-bit as the OP points out. However, I'm just giving some data so that the impression isn't MS requires users to pay additional $$$ to run 64-bit vs. 32-bit. The costs are 100% about the media and support.
Edited by FLY1NGSQU1RR3L - 11/29/08 at 9:33pm
- Fact: There is only one license for both 32-bit and 64-bit. OEMs in the commercial space routinely ship systems with both 32-bit and 64-bit images preinstalled, prompting the user on first-boot which one they want. The license requires that they only leave one or the other on the system once the choice is made, but I'm sharing this just to reinforce the fact that there is no licensing fee barrier to getting a copy of 64-bit when you already have a license for 32-bit versions of Windows Vista. This will be irrelevant soon anyway since many OEMs in Consumer segments are defaulting to 64-bit for obvious reasons.
- Fact: OEMs can provide 64-bit media to 32-bit customers, in some cases. If you purchased a 32-bit version of Windows Vista, preinstalled by a major OEM, the OEM may send you a 64-bit version of the Recovery DVD if you call them to request it. They will likely charge you a recovery DVD replacement fee and/or shipping + handling + material costs. This is generally a decision by the OEM based upon the type of machine you purchased (how old, if it's supported for 64-bit for your market segment, etc). Don't expect they will always have a DVD for you, but it never hurts to ask
- Fact: All Windows Vista product keys work on 32-bit and 64-bit equally. Windows Vista Product Keys are SKU-dependent only, but language and processor architecture agnostic. If you have a product key that works on a 32-bit version of Windows Vista, it will work equally well on a 64-bit version.
- Fact: Most PCs from the larger OEMs (HP, Dell, etc) are OEM-Activated. This means they are pre-activated in the factory using a combination of things in the BIOS and in the preloaded SW image. You cannot legally transfer this to a clean install of Windows Vista (e.g. installing 64-bit when you received 32-bit) unless you get it as part of a recovery DVD (see recommendation 1 above). You can, however, preserve it if you have the base OEM image you want: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/d...DisplayLang=en
- Fact: The product key on the COA cannot be used by the major OEMs. However, since the machine was pre-activated in the factory, this also means that the product key printed on the COA for that PC was never intended to be used for Activation, except in the case of an Override (e.g. you intentionally or unintentionally wiped out the OEM preinstall and lost OEM Activation state). Don't get discouraged there - if activation fails after clean installing 64-bit on the PC which has the matching COA attached, calling a Microsoft product activation center and explaining your situation (you bought a PC with 32-bit, got a 64-bit recovery fulfilled by your OEM, and had to clean install) will often result in success as well.