Once upon a time, Windows didn’t come in different versions or flavors. You bought Windows and it was Windows from A to Z, or technically W to S. Some might call it better times, but times change and so have market demands. Since now we have 5 versions of Windows for the consumer market – although some insist to round-up to a bazillion, it only seems fair to be able to upgrade between versions when it is required, thus Windows Anytime Upgrade was born.
Up until May, Anytime Upgrade was only accessible through a proprietary online ordering system provided by Microsoft, limiting the availability and accessibility of those who either don’t have a credit card or simply aren’t comfortable with purchasing online. From May till now, Microsoft has been quietly offering these Upgrade Packs, an off-the-shelve product for Anytime Upgrade. Not much has been said about these packs, and it’s not even mention on Microsoft’s own website which made me wonder what Microsoft intends to do with these.
A Microsoft spokesperson had this to say,
When did Windows Anytime Upgrade become available through these Upgrade Packs?
The initial version of Windows Anytime Upgrade was available at consumer launch in North America and EMEA on January 30th in the form of a card with a product key. Since then, we’ve redesigned the SKU to also offer a pack with a DVD and a product key inside. The English version of this pack was made available in the North America, EMEA and APAC markets in May, with localized SKUs made available in June. In the US market, the Windows Anytime Upgrade Pack is available as a service upgrade at retailers and can be purchased on Amazon or at Circuit City and Best Buy. In EMEA and APAC customers can purchase the pack through several different software distributors and retailers.
How does that work – is a reseller still involved in some way? Or are the bits available directly from MS on CD/DVD (with a new product key)?
Upgrade Packs are available through direct retail in response to requests from our retail partners. Direct retail offers customers the choice of another way to acquire WAU, coexisting with the online WAU model. When customers purchase the upgrade at windowsanytimeupgrade.com, they receive a digital certificate download and product key. With the upgrade pack, customers insert the DVD, enter the product key and proceed with the upgrade. The bits are also available on a WAU DVD that they can purchase at the same time.
To me this sounds like the ideal alternative for Anytime Upgrades. From a user’s point-of-view, purchasing software online is a scary thing. The question everyone asks is, what happens if you lose the electronic key or digital license? Even with all the fanciness and wrapping of “Digital Locker“, it is still a tough choice over something you can hold on to and gather dust on your bookshelf.
If anyone’s interested in upgrading their version of Windows Vista to Ultimate for any other reason than to enjoy the luxuries of Windows Ultimate Extras – because they don’t exist, then check out these Upgrade Packs.