“The edition of Windows Vista that the customer chooses will then be activated by the product key,” Mike Burk, public relations manager for Windows Marketing Communications, said in an emailed statement.
“For instance, if a customer buys Windows Vista Home Premium from a retail store, the full version of Windows Vista will be included on the DVD.
“But because the customer chose and paid for Home Premium, the product key he or she receives will activate the Home Premium edition and its features and functionality.”
Windows Anytime Update lets users purchase updates online. After downloading a digital key, the user inserts the original DVD to install additional software components. Microsoft declined to comment on pricing for the upgrades.
Of course, retail sales are the smallest part of the pie and the question really is how this will work for Vista preinstalled on PC hardware since some vendors don’t provide easily mislaid disks, but instead put all the bits on the hard drive. These days a few GB here or there aren’t such a big deal and if cleverly done, only version differences would be stored, not full separate copies.
Then there’s the always pesky question of dividing the loot:
Rob Enderle, principal analyst with the Enderle Group, told vnunet.com that Microsoft is expected to share the upgrade revenues with system manufacturers. He based his comments on conversations with OEMs.
The upgrade feature will be especially beneficial to small and medium-sized firms which often purchase systems with the consumer version of Windows XP and later realise that they require the additional features in XP Pro, Enderle said.
I expect the OEMs get to handle support calls as part of the deal too. I’ll also be interested to see how many vendors lowball prices by including Vista Home Basic in the system price and letting the user ante up separately for the fancy Aero user experience.
Finally, there’s one other party to be heard from: hackers. I wonder what their share will be?