There's a loophole in Windows Vista Service Pack 1 that allows consumers to upgrade to the latest Microsoft's Operating System without having to actually own earlier versions of Windows.
According to Computerworld (opens in new tab), although you might be breaking the rules by buying and installing a Vista upgrade on a computer, Microsoft is tacitly approving the move, mainly because it helps Microsoft to please its own bean counters.
To make things even more complex, Brian Livingston (opens in new tab), a writer at Windowssecrets, remarks that several hints inside Vista itself point to the obvious : that the trick was incorporated by Vista's developers themselves - whether they took on themselves or whether that came up in the chain of command is unknown.
A quick look at the full version of Vista Ultimate SP1 shows that it is on sale at £351.48 at Amazon (opens in new tab) while the Upgrade DVD (opens in new tab) costs much less at £199.99, a significant saving of nearly £155.
But the absurdity of Microsoft pricing is illustrated by the price of the OEM version of the Windows Vista Ultimate (opens in new tab) x32Bit Edition which costs only £109.12 delivered, less than a third of the full price.
This is a much more popular loophole that has been largely exploited as the only requirement to benefit from OEM (original equipment manufacturer) prices is to purchase a piece of computer hardware like this sound card (opens in new tab) which costs £4.99.
While officially, Microsoft has stressed that OEM software is not intended to be installed by end users, behind closed doors and off record, Microsoft (opens in new tab) will not oppose the practice.