Is Microsoft supporting Vista SP1 Upgrade Edition pirates?
The loop-hole exists in the Vista SP1 Upgrade Edition, which requires a previous install of Windows 2000, XP, or Vista but the upgrade edition will install even if they're absent. The Vista SP1 Upgrade Edition retails for about $110 less than the full version of Vista SP1, which means users can save money on upgrading to Vista by purchasing the cheaper upgrade box.
Livingston believes Microsoft supports the hole since the upgrade edition installs over itself in Vista SP1. Although it may seem absurd at first, Microsoft may benefit from such software pirates -- if they can be called that anymore.
The theory behind this is already at play and has been at play for many years. As more and more users install some version of Windows, others will see it as "the standard", and then they will buy it -- or they'll pirate it and indirectly influence others to buy it.
Take, for example, Microsoft Office in the college environment. Many students pirate Microsoft Office because it's a great product, but it's also easy to get for free. These pirates support Office as "the standard" in the college environment, sending the message to their more honest -- or more rich -- counterparts that having it is necessary. If Office were difficult to pirate, its popularity would cease since free and useful alternatives exist.
So more Vista pirates should produce more Vista buyers, but keep in mind, this is simply a theory -- albeit a strongly supported one. Then again, big corporations wouldn't lie to us, right? That's what the TV says.