Windows Anytime Upgrade

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Windows Anytime Upgrade (WAU) was an upgrade method offered by Microsoft and selected licensed resellers to users who intended to upgrade their editions of Windows Vista or Windows 7. The Windows 7 version of Windows Anytime Upgrade introduced many improvements, notably the upgrade time has been reduced to around 10 minutes, and upgrade license keys can be purchased at retail. Windows Anytime Upgrade DVDs were only used for Windows Vista.

Windows Vista Anytime Upgrade consists of a full in-place Windows reinstallation that takes considerable time and requires the original Windows Vista DVD with the same service pack level as that of the installed edition.[1] Windows 7 Anytime Upgrade does not require physical media and installs the extra components of the Windows 7 edition from the component-based servicing (CBS) store located on the system.

Microsoft's marketing material[which?] states that all installation media will contain all the functionality of the highest SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) and that higher level functions are disabled through winlogon.exe and pidgen.dll, which is also used in differentiating between Windows XP Home edition and Professional edition. In practical terms, this means that the license purchased online effectively determines which version of the operating system to which customers can upgrade.

The benefit of WAU is that if one decides that one wants Windows Media Center, Aero, or Windows Fax and Scan on a computer that runs the Home Basic edition, one could complete the upgrade without needing to acquire a different installation disk and without requiring a reinstallation of Windows.

In Windows 8, the function was renamed Add features to Windows 8; it allows users to upgrade Windows 8 (core edition) to Windows 8 Pro, and add Windows Media Center to their installation. Upgrading to Windows 8 Enterprise is impossible.


Upgrading to another version of Windows 7 requires the purchase of a license online, or by manual application of a license key which can be purchased at retail. For online purchases, there is no key to input, as the upgrade process is automatic and takes around 10 minutes. The license download can be achieved either through the website address or using the Windows Anytime Upgrade. One can then complete the process by downloading the license software that is required for the process.

Users are required to complete the upgrade by installing the proper files associated with the edition unlocked with their downloaded license package using one of several methods. Windows installation DVD (Windows Vista only) can be used so long as it is labeled "Includes Windows Anytime Upgrade". An OEM can also preload files onto the hard drive of a computer running Windows Vista or Windows 7. Finally, an OEM may include a separate Anytime Upgrade DVD along with, or instead of, the typical restore disk. If any of the above are not present, a Windows Anytime Upgrade DVD can be ordered by request during the upgrade process for a minimal shipping and handling fee.


Windows Anytime Upgrade for Windows Vista was available in the US, Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and Japan. Pricing varied greatly by location with those in the US and Canada paying substantially less than those in Europe. The user's location was fixed during the order process using IP address localization, and the user had no opportunity to change this during the order process. Windows users in other countries such as New Zealand and South Africa did not have access to the service.[2] Anytime Upgrade support for Windows Vista was discontinued in early 2008.[3]

To expand the limited availability and accessibility of Windows Anytime Upgrade, Microsoft has introduced Windows Anytime Upgrade Packs since May 2007 in North America, EMEA and Asia-Pacific countries.[4] These packs are available in retail as well as online stores. Since February 2008, in some countries where it was previously possible to upgrade using a downloaded license and the original installation media, users attempting to purchase an upgrade via the Microsoft website were informed that they can only receive the upgrade via a mailed Windows Anytime Upgrade Pack.


  1. ^ Microsoft prepares Windows Anytime Upgrade, v2
  2. ^ Peter Galli. "Microsoft Watch - Vista - Getting Windows Vista online". Retrieved 2008-02-24. 
  3. ^ Rivera, Paul Thurrott ; Rafael (2009). Windows 7 Secrets Epub Edition. Indianapolis, Ind.: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0470589124. 
  4. ^ Long Zheng. "Windows Anytime Upgrade Packs, in detail". Retrieved 2008-02-24. 

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