The disk would operate in conjunction with the Windows Anytime Upgrade feature in Vista, which is scheduled to ship to consumers in January. If people want to buy a different version of Vista, they can click on the feature icon, which would direct them to a reseller site to pay for a product key. They then can insert the original DVD and use the key to install the upgrade.
"The idea is to provide customers with the most convenient user experience possible by enabling them to more easily and directly upgrade to a higher edition of Windows Vista from within their current edition," a Microsoft spokesperson said in an email.
Microsoft is going to ship six versions of Vista. The different SKUs, or stock-keeping units, include Vista Starter, Vista Home Basic, Vista Home Premium, Vista Home Ultimate, Vista Business and Vista Enterprise. The Ultimate Edition would contain all the multimedia functionality of the Home Premium Edition and the business-focused capabilities of the business versions. Vista is set to ship to businesses in November.
Microsoft this month released some pricing for Vista. Home Basic would cost $199 for the full version, Home Premium, $239; Business; $299; and Ultimate, $399. Upgrades would cost $100, $159, $199, and $259, respectively.