There are probably a few college students out there that still want to upgrade to Windows Vista without buying a new machine, and without access to any special CS major-exclusive downloads (which are often “Enterprise” or “Business” editions anyway, and only 32-bit). Also, such students are probably overwhelmed with the number of editions of Vista available. To complicate the matter further (or provide a solution), you’re in luck – students are eligible for the academic versions of Vista. The academic versions are identical to their consumer counterparts, albeit at a substantial discount (half price for Home Premium).
The catch is that you can’t buy this academic version just anywhere. There are several resellers online which provide academic versions, but all require proof of enrollment in an applicable academic program and appear pretty shifty. This can get tricky, but I’ll relate my experience. I took a chance and paid $70 for the usually ~$160 Home Premium upgrade version of Vista from CampusTech. To purchase, I had to use my SS number through an associated website, which seemed risky and could potentially have been foolish (even though it was a “secure” site). I got an order confirmation but no shipping confirmation or tracking number, but other than that, the product arrived relatively promptly and – so far – no credit card fraud has befallen me. Of course, it was just the 32-bit version. To get the 64-bit version, I simply needed to request additional media from Microsoft’s site (for $10).
Well, again, I got an order confirmation, but no shipping confirmation or tracking number. Long story short, it took several phone calls before I was told it shipped and would take three to ten business days before arriving…and it’s still not here (two full weeks later). So I’d say it’s worth it to take the risk for the academic version, but the 64-bit edition might not be worth the wait (unless you plan on utilizing all the additional memory capacity it affords). I was just surprised at Microsoft’s shabbiness in handling the distribution of the alternate media…I should be able to download the 64-bit DVD ISO, since the full version is available to buy and download from their site (via Circuit City) and I already have a legal key.