The Vista MUI SKU story

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2007/02/15 17:01 -08:00, original URI:

So the other day regular reader Mike Dimmick asked me:

An article on zdnet's All About Microsoft suggests that MUI packs will only be available on Windows Vista Ultimate and Vista Enterprise.

I probably don't need to tell you that a lot of smaller business users will be using the Vista Business edition, not Enterprise (which needs, I believe, a huge commitment through Software Assurance volume licensing). We ourselves have this edition through the Action Pack scheme. Can you say whether MUI will be available for Windows Vista Business?

I am not going to toe the line and claim that I think this is a sensible idea, and I won't try to be an apologist about it either.

I think it is a terrible idea.

Of course I am not really someone who has done any number crunching on this and I am sure that more than a few people who have done so have been consulted. So I may well be wrong. In fact, I'm probably wrong.

And looking at a bunch of the online sites for buying Vista, even buying single copies the upgrade version of Ultimate is under $260 and of Business is under $200 (the full version of Ultimate is under $400 and of Business is under $300), so I guess it is kind of a tempest in a teacup since the upgrade version can be used to do clean installs if you have qualifying upgrade media. And who among us doesn't have a whole mess of qualifying media? :-)

So while this is something I find annoying, I am not sure how truly blocking it will be.

The whole situation, I am reminded of a scene from the 1988 movie Shoot To Kill:

{Sidney Poitier has just scared away a grizzly bear}

Tom Beringer: I've never seen a  grizzly just turn and run like that.

Sidney Poitier: Everybody else up here acts like they've never seen a black man before. Why should the bear be different?

The way I look at, to date I don't think there has yet been a version of MUI shipped for either Windows or Office that has had a SKU story that I thought made sense. Why should Vista be different? :-)


This post brought to you by  (U+0cb5, a.k.a. KANNADA LETTER VA)

# roxfan on Thursday, February 15, 2007 8:58 PM:

This entry is really confusing.

"I think it is a terrible idea." Which idea? The idea of making MUI packs available only for Ultimate and Enterprise? Idea of making them available for Business? Or idea of using Business edition by companies? I reread the entry a few times but still can't decide which is it. Also, I don't really get what does the upgrade version have to do with all this?

Then maybe I'm just slow.

P.S. What is SKU?

# Michael S. Kaplan on Thursday, February 15, 2007 9:18 PM:

I think the limitation is terrible -- the very one Mike is complaining about.

If the worry is price, the upgrade version is cheaper?

# Björn on Thursday, February 15, 2007 10:36 PM:

"[...] since the upgrade version can be used to do clean installs if you have qualifying upgrade media."

Wasn't there some noise on the intarweb about the Upgrade versions needing an installation of the qualified OS? E.g. you cannot do a clean install anymore even if you have the qualified media at hand?

# Michael S. Kaplan on Thursday, February 15, 2007 11:46 PM:

Yes, but that is what I am saying -- the media is something most people have. You do not have to have it pre-installed, you just have to put in the CD so that the qualifying product can be recognized.

# Pavanaja UB on Friday, February 16, 2007 12:34 AM:

What about the LIPs for Vista? Do they also available only for the Enterprise and Ultimate editions?

# Michael S. Kaplan on Friday, February 16, 2007 12:44 AM:

No, LIPs are still downloadable by all (that Hindi one I pointed out being the first of many).

# Mihai on Friday, February 16, 2007 1:42 AM:

<<You do not have to have it pre-installed, you just have to put in the CD so that the qualifying product can be recognized.>>

From what I read on "the internets," not quite true.


It seems that MS tried to make it more difficult for pirates(?) and in the process the result was more inconvenience for the regular users (as usual).

# Michael S. Kaplan on Friday, February 16, 2007 2:23 AM:

This is not quite true (as one of the articles you cite points out!). There is a method for doing it that works.

# Mike on Friday, February 16, 2007 4:21 AM:

Microsoft still does not recognise that language borders do not exist even in the home. A Windows/Vista SKU does not have a label on the box saying "cannot be switched to another language interface" - in the list of marketed features, it's a quantum blip.

Now Microsoft doesn't even attempt to mitigate the situation by making international copies of Windows available freely (employees can't even by them through the Microsoft Store) - so this strengthens the grey market for illegally imported or pirated versions of Windows.

# Michael S. Kaplan on Friday, February 16, 2007 1:31 PM:


I could point out the ease with which multilingual SKUs can be created by OEMs as well as all of other mitigations for the pieces of Mr . Mike Williams' critcisms that are true (as well as corrections for the ones that are false) but I guess I am resigned to the fact that his comments will continue to make bold claims without proof and then intersperse those with true claims not explained well enough.

(and then of course ranting complaints when people are unable to discern the difference in time)

Mike, still waiting in the other post for your long path example of the claim made? :-)

# someone on Sunday, February 18, 2007 2:56 PM:

This stupidest SKU problem is not just for MUIs. Its there even for Bitlocker and the Unix subsystem. Basically, MS should have created just offered the exact same features for Business and Enterprise except for the different activation and license. But someone stupid inside MS thinks that a small business owner will never need Bitlocker or need to migrate his Unix apps. Hopefully, MS will listen and change it by Vista SP1. Otherwise, just why should I upgrade to Vista Business from my XP Pro MUI if I can get Services for Unix on it??

# lAb rodour on Tuesday, November 06, 2007 3:42 AM:

An english speaking guy with Japanese wife and Kids who are Leaning Spanish, French and Hungarian once told me...  I would rather use a MacOSX machine or Linux...  as there are no restrictions on how you can use your computer in the home or in the office, and these days... all of Microsoft's proprietary formats have been completely reverse engineered.

Only Mircrosoft and Adobe continue to try to slice up the world and represent it as a pie-chart...

that is so... well... 2-D

# Michael S. Kaplan on Tuesday, November 06, 2007 8:54 AM:

Hmmm.... I guess.

How is that Linux version Microsoft Access replacement coming? :-)

referenced by

2007/08/19 Additional personal speculation on the Vista MUI SKU story

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