Windows

Upgrading a user to Windows Vista from Windows 2000


If you're like me, you prefer to install your operating system upgrades on a clean and formatted hard drive instead of simply upgrading from the current operating system. It provides a much cleaner and stable install, and it gives the opportunity to later install only the programs you want, eliminating a lot of the junk that seems to accumulate along the way. Well, what happened to those good ol' days when you could upgrade your current operating system onto that clean (or brand new) hard drive, simply by being prompted to provide the CD from a qualifying product during the installation process? With a Windows Vista upgrade from Windows 2000, that's apparently a thing of the past.

I proceeded with my first Windows Vista installation just like I've done with past versions. I'd copy the user's documents and other necessary local files onto a networked drive, and then format the hard drive either before or during the installation process, or in many cases, simply start with a brand new hard drive. And with this particular upgrade (from W2K), installing larger hard drives might be more the rule for some people than the exception. This Vista upgrade started normal enough, booting from the DVD with the installation program asking for the Windows Product Key. After entering the key, however, I received a message stating, To use the product key you entered, start the installation from your existing version of Windows. What the heck is this all about, I wondered?

Oh well, I wanted to get the first one installed, so I simply decided to forgo the drive format and install from my existing version of Windows. So from Windows 2000, I inserted the Vista DVD and ran the setup program. A screen appeared that apparently gave the option of an upgrade or a clean install, just like I wanted; however, the upgrade option was not available. The Windows prompt said, Upgrade has been disabled. The upgrade cannot be started. To upgrade, you must be running Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (SP2), or Windows Vista. Again, I thought this was rather strange. Windows 2000 is a qualifying upgrade product, so why was the upgrade disabled? Even considering the different architecture used in Vista, it seems to me that Microsoft could have figured out a way to get it to upgrade.

I did have that option of a clean install, however. That's what I wanted in the first place, it seemed I only had to get there a bit differently. So I made my one and only available choice of a clean install, but ran into a couple if glitches. First of all, downloading the installation updates was highly recommended, but Vista couldn't connect to the Web - even if I opened a Web connection myself. The second thing was that I still did not have a drive format or partition option. Nonetheless, I went ahead and installed, pretty much without a hitch.

But I still wanted to install all my upgrades on either a freshly formatted drive or a new one, so did I have any other options? I did, and I could describe several different scenarios (and I think I experimented with all of them), but the key to installing Vista Upgrade from Windows 2000 is the product key, or perhaps, in this case, the lack of one, and when Windows Vista can be activated. Basically, here are the installation options for a Vista upgrade from Windows 2000:

•1. Install the upgrade from your current Windows 2000 installation using the product key: If you choose this option, you cannot format the hard drive, your current program and data files will not be transferred (but rather will have to be reinstalled), and Vista will create a folder called Windows.old for all your old files, although Windows 2000 cannot be run from that location. (If you choose this option, I'd still backup those data files.) With this option, you can activate windows as soon as you establish an Internet connection. (Since this isn't a true upgrade, all your configuration settings will be lost.) •2. Install on a new or freshly formatted hard drive (my preferred method): Boot from the Vista DVD, and do not enter the product key when prompted to do so; and say no, you really don't want to enter it, when asked to confirm. You can both partition the drive (delete and/or add), and/or you can format the drive. The installation will go fine, but when you try to activate the software by entering your product key after the installation, you'll be denied. For this option, when you try to activate the software, you'll be told, The Software Licensing Service determined that this specific product key can only be used for upgrading, not for a clean install. At this point, all you'll have to do is install Vista again, but this time you'll be upgrading to Vista from Vista. That sounds strange, I know, but it's true. When you install Vista a second time, you'll want to do it from the new installation of Vista, not by booting from the DVD. You do want to enter the product key the second time around, and you do want to choose the upgrade option. •3. Upgrade to Windows XP first: You could, I suppose, upgrade Windows 2000 to Windows XP, and then upgrade your XP to Vista. But if most current W2K people are like me, they simply skipped XP all together, which is why they decided to upgrade to Vista in the first place. Besides, it would be much cleaner installing Vista over Vista than over XP, or at least it seems so.

Now that you have your Vista Upgrade installed and activated (or in my case, close to twenty of them), and you begin to weed through all the glitches and idiosyncrasies, you'll still long for those good ol' days, but the ones when you were running Windows 2000 Professional without a hitch and loving every minute of it. And I won't even try to understand how Microsoft engineered a product that told me during various stages of different upgrade attempts, that upgrade has been disabled AND the product I purchased must be installed as an upgrade. I'm still scratching my head over that one.

17 comments
bobbydigits
bobbydigits

I ran Vista in Beta for about 6 months before its general release and managed to tame it. After a while, I even began to like it. But, like we in I.T. know, it's not about me. Clearly, most users hate it. Admittedly, it does have issues that will challenge users not ready to break out of their mold. From what I can gather, the rollout is going to go at the pace of frozen molasses.

tisdave
tisdave

I'm ready to switch to a MAC ... (I never thought I would say it, but THERE!)

david
david

Thi$ i$ ju$t one more rea$on why VI$TA $UCK$. I'm tired of hearing from client$ who hate it and want to go back to XP; people who have perfectly good older hardware that i$ now u$eless; $oftware that won't work anymore; endle$$ pop-up$ a$king "are you $ure you want to do thi$?"; $LOW $y$tem$ becau$e they have "only" 512MB of RAM, etc. Bill Gate$ and Micro$oft, you really f...ked up thi$ time 'round. It wa$n't broke. Why did you "fix" it?

hughk
hughk

It seems to me that the function of our profession is to learn what is out there. If this is unacceptable perhaps you should be in sales. I liked NT and would have probably stayed with if I had a choice (and they were still writing drivers for it). The point is that technology is an extremely dynamic process. At some point you will have to know Vista so quite whining and start learning!

ken.klein
ken.klein

Don't feel bad. We purchased computers with Vista Home on them since we have a license to upgrade to Vista Enterprise. Guess what - the upgrade feature is disabled on THIS upgrade too. Now we have to reinstall all the correct drivers and the vendor-supplied programs...

v10charlie
v10charlie

same problems for me. plus my my asus m.b. is a early p4 3.0 board a p4p800 sl. vista will not me use my raid set up for mirrored drives. even when given the correct software from intell it will not let it fly with raid only a non raid

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

And Redmond wonders why the IT world is dragging their feet on upgrades? How many extra hours are we supposed to waste on these roadblocks that serve no purpose beyond making life difficult for legitimate support people? The tighter they clench their fists, the more grains of sand escape to the Linux world.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

NO it wasn'tr broken, after three years. When XP was released we heard the same complaints from Win2K users too. In fact, when WinXp came out it was WAAAAAAy worse that Vista, it was bug ridden and full of security holes right out of teh gate. It wasn' tuntil SP2 that it started to become a usable system, people's comments here towards XP were: "Why should I buy new hardware just to run this bloated, insecure garbage?" "Why would you release such a crappy OS after Win2K?" "XP SUCKS, downgrade to Win2K" etc. so nothing is new, except Vista is far better at this early stage than XP was, indicating that it will also be better by SP3 than XP is today. In fact, all XP offered over 2K was a stupid, bloated GUI. At least Vista has some good improvements over XP, better dual processor management, better file storage management and disk management (rarely needs defragging), better/faster file searches, the bredcrumbs toolbars are incredible, MUCH faster navigation than XP and so on, it really has merits. Do you need to rebuild your old box and get Vista? no. Do you need to upgrade from XP to Vista? no Bit whe buying a enw box, you'd have to be pretty stupid not to use Vista in it, unless of course it is not compatible with other office software for some reason. Other than that, peopl ewho downgrade a new box are just too lazy to get it working optimally and therefore lose out on some great improvements due to complacency. Bill Gates didn't fk up at all, in fact it is more stable and more secure than XP was when XP came out. If it wasn't broke why fix it? Exactly, if your PC works it works. But then again, why shouldn't new PC owners get a better OS? Why should new PC owners be forced to use XP? No, there are no good reasons unless again, it is due to proprietary company software that only runs on XP. Why shouldn't they benefit from better user protection, a more intuitive interface etc.? Technically XP was broken from day one, people just learned to accept the downfalls until MS finally fixed them. Comparitively, Vista is light years ahead of the endless XP development and repair cycle.

TokyoPete
TokyoPete

Dell is sending out 'buy Dell' laptops etc.ads to computer owners in a mass mailing with a deadline that gets extended every month to next month. And guess which OS they are offering? Bingo. First choice and cheapest comes with XP pre-installed. Most expensive comes with XP SP2 OR Vista Home. I haven't called Dell to ask how they are doing but it seems they are not backing Vista in Japan at any rate.

Freebird54
Freebird54

But is it REALLY heading in the direction of Vista? There have been any number of apparently promising technologies that have not 'panned out' in actual use. The market abhors a vacuum, so something else is quickly found as a replacement. So - there are at least 3 possible scenarios which would invalidate your 'shut up and learn' strategy. 1. MS smells the coffee, and fixes/removes the offending 'features' - leading to Vista becoming viable after all. 2. Businesses and users hang on until Windows 7 makes its debut (2 years?). In this case 2 years ought to be doable - and may even be the optimal choice. 3. Find other ways to get the job done. This can be by changing from PC to more centralized computing, or Linux/BSD/Solaris solutions, or both. Some of this is happening already. Not always does a 'common sense' approach work out - and I suspect this is one of those times. Flaws in something that ought to be simple (upgrading) - especially when the machine will be validated anyway (!) meaning that incorrect versions can be caught in other ways - is utter foolishness on the part of MS. Luckily, they are not usually stupid, and should do domething about it soon... (Edited for typos)

Ergo we surrender.
Ergo we surrender.

I second that! Like it or not soon support for w2k in all its flavors is going to end- just like good ol' NT. I'm finding it more and more difficult to source Business notebooks with XP- pretty soon it will all be Vista. Sure I agree Vista is far from perfect- neither was NT 3.51 but we've moved on haven't we? So my philosophy is to LEARN about it so I can feel confident when I have to sell/support it. Its no use whining about the goold old days. That sounds like my grandparents. Move on or get left behind with gramps! ;)

Big Ole Jack
Big Ole Jack

I've played with Vista and all I can say is what a piece of crap it is. I've had nothing but problems with drivers, upgrades, software compatibility, and the dreaded activation nonsense. Until MS gets their act together and redesigns Vista by removing all the snazzy gunk and eyecandy, I won't be touching it anytime soon.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

You may have a point, but the most common reason ESPECIALLY from Dell is to clear "loss leaders" out of stock. If they wind up stuck with a major inventory of XP and XP support is dropped they lose out. Dell is famous for no standards, using whatever cheap components they can get on clearance and replacing ocmponents with entirely different components, that's why most larger companies with standards practices are avoiding them as they can't rely on the parts. An Admin may not be able to swap out a hard drive with another machine of the same model even. Dell is like a cheap parts liquidator, not a PC designer. But they have succeeded due to cheap consumers that don't care about quality over price or people that just don't know any better. Then you look at IBM for example, every "business" machine has standard compliancy for at leat the 5 years of teh onsite warranty, you are guarunteed the exact same part is available. They also write the custom BIOS for each machine to properly utilize the hardware installed. If you call them, they know EXACTLY what parts are installed, right down to the placement of stickets screws and numbers as they are identical in every way. Dell is a loss leader clearance centre. Their PC's work, are supported and they are cheap, but there's a reason they have a crapload of older machines still and I doubt it has anything to do with them thinking XP is better, in fact they are doing some customers a disservice by selling them antiquated machines. Currently the DirectX 10 for XP is as buggy as XP was when released; certainly something that would really piss off a gamer buying a new box.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Way to go! I stuck with Win2K for 4 years just to avoid XP garbage for the exact same reasons. XP was bloated junksware with a flashy GUI that did nothing worthwhile until you shut off al the eye candy. Then 3 SP's later it finally started to become worthy for business use, even then I just avoided it until forced to get a new notebook which was built with Vista installed. In my case, Vista has been a slice, absolutely NO problems and many improvements over XP, no hardware issues of course, plenty of speed even with some real resource hog apps running, of course it is still bloatware, like XP, you just need to shut off all the candy and garbage and it appears a lot more like Win2K again. But the improved GUI offerings and ease of use with Vista have finally got me to take a breath again after losing Win2K, which I still adore. Down with new and improved software, up with Windows 3.11!!! Windows for workgroups now there's a system for ya. There's nothing like working out a few dozen static IP's on guess work alone. I say we all hang onto antiquated software as long as possible and force companies like MS to scratch their heads and start working backwards again instead of forwards. Piss on productivity, I want something familiar whether it is beter or not.

da philster
da philster

Windows 2000 Pro employs good, relatively compact code, stable, plays nice with most software and hardware. No hoops to jump through. Does exactly what it's asked to do. Can't see any reason to move to bloated, cantankerous Vista for the sake of some "eye candy" I.M.H.O. and at the risk of being considered (I really don't care) "old fashioned", I'll just stick with what works well.

chris
chris

Vista isn't worth going to at all. Stick with Windows 2000 / XP Pro where you know everything you need to work does work. Vista is a lot of hassle for an OS that will be superseded in 2 years anyway.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I ran screamign from XP, after having to administer desktops for a year or two when it came out. Until recently it was the worst POs tha MS released, well ME was a close 2nd. I too had hung onto Win2KPro in my Thinkpad (god rest her soul). But when it died and I had a tiny time window to replace it and get to a client with a presentation, a retail HP from Best Buy was in the company's pocket book and just a few blocks away. So now I use Vista, and guess what? It's great. I miss using 2K it was truly a good OS, but I am getting really used to the new Vista features and find great benefit in them in teh way of increased productivity. I can do things in Vista now, that took longer to do in a more roundabout way in Win2K. I agree with you stick with Win2K until you need a new box, I also don't understand why so many new XP fanboys come out of the woodwork with little to no Vista experience and feel they must state a case against something they refuse to learn about. XP was complete crap when it came out too, in fact it was FAR worse that Vista is today, that's why I stuck with 2K to begin with. For people buying a new box and downgrading to XP, if it is becase Vista won't run company apps or there is a company policy to use XP, it makes some sense, but for teh most part it is just fanboys who refuse to try something new out of fear their day may be a bit busier. IT staff are not known for their interest in change that's for sure, stubborn minded complacency seems to be more common.