Below is an experience of a person who has had his share of troubles with Microsoft Vista. Read On!
"Let me begin this by stating that I am writing this on an un-Activated/No CD-Key/Activation-Cracked copy of Windows Vista Home Premium... at the express recommendation of, and instructed by: Microsoft Technical Support.
Like many others, I purchased Vista the day it was released. According to the box my laptop had plenty of juice to run it (Turion64 1.6, 1280 MB RAM, 80 GB HD, Mobility Express 200M) and since I had a spare $178, I figured "Why not?" I get home and open the package (how many others out there spent 10 minutes trying to figure out how to open the package ??), put the disk in my XP Pro laptop (I've already downloaded the Upgrade Advisor and verified that you can upgrade from XP Pro to Home Premium) and proceed to "Upgrade" my laptop.
Two hours later (!) I've got a fully functional Windows Vista laptop... sort of; it seems kinda sluggish... actually, it's performance just sucks to be honest.
I live with the Vista "upgrade" for about two weeks before I decide that a fresh install is in order to hopefully allow Vista to perform up to its promises. I reboot with the Vista DVD in the drive, go through the beginning of the install process again until I reach the spot where you choose "Upgrade" or "Fresh Install". I chose "Fresh Install" instead of "Upgrade" this time, entering my CD Key and proceed to wait 45 minutes or so for the install to complete. Hooray !!! I have a Vista laptop that actually performs... sorta better than before, but it's still not as fast as XP Pro was, but it's OK.
Now...here comes the fun part:
I click on the taskbar icon to "Activate Vista", I follow the prompts, click the Activate button and Vista promptly kicks back an error that the CD Key I have provided is for an upgrade of Vista ONLY. As I have installed this as a "Fresh Install", my CD Key was not valid !! (Just wait...this gets better).
I decide for the first time in my life I'll call Microsoft Customer Service - I figured that this has probably happened hundreds of times already and I'll be on the phone 10 minutes at most. After 45 minutes of wading through various Tier 1 techs that have all asked me the same questions 10 times each, I get transferred to a customer service manager who seems to speak slightly better English and may have a clue as to how to help me.
I explain (for the fifth time) what I've done to reach this point - he promptly tells me that you cannot upgrade to Vista Home Premium from Windows XP - that the installer will not let you do so (!?!?!?!?) and that the upgrade DVD will not let you complete a fresh install (!?!?!?!?). At this point I ask him how I have managed to reach this point if neither of those possibilities are able to occur (even though it is their software that has allowed me to do so); he replies that the only fix I have for my predicament is to reinstall XP Home and then reupgrade.
I politely tell him that since I have recently moved I do not have the foggiest idea as to the location of said XP disk and inquire as to whether there is ANY other way to fix this. The forthcoming reply rather shocked me I must say - The Customer Service Manager told me that I could either borrow an XP Home disk from a friend (isn't that software piracy ??) or look online for one of the many Vista Activation cracks to bypass Vista Activation completely, and specifically mentioned "TimerLock" (um... hey, HE told me to do it !!). Well, I followed his instructions.
I did a little bit of searching on Google and came up with information on the "Timerlock" crack. I downloaded and installed TimerLock and now have a quasi-legal fully functional version of Vista Home Premium (I HAVE a legal CD-Key - even if Vista doesn't like it).
I would like to make it very clear that I tried to do this the right way before I resorted to the guerilla method, I DID stay with the correct version of Vista that I had purchased (the DVD will allow you to install ANY version of Vista) and I do not advocate the use or distribution of pirated software.
It truly surprised me that not only was Microsoft Technical Support not able to help me with my problem correctly, but actually suggested an illegal method to do so. I'm extremely disappointed not only in Vista, but in Microsoft as a company for allowing such behavior to occur.