back to article Digital River makes total hash of Windows 7 upgrade offer

Microsoft has been flooded with complaints from hundreds of disgruntled university bods who have struggled to download or successfully install Windows 7 files supplied by Digital River. As we reported last week, many UK-based university staff and students who stumped up £30 for Microsoft’s Windows 7 academic offer were …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Ian Ferguson
    Paris Hilton


    Surely these people could get legitimately download a copy of Windows 7 by bittorrent? After all, they've got a license to the software.

  2. nickrw


    The unpack itself doesn't fail (though the error message implies that it does), all the files necessary for the installation get pulled out of the BOX files. Once you have these it is very easy to create a bootable ISO and burn it to a DVD.

    Stop grumbling, my Windows 7 x64 laptop runs fine, it was previously Vista x86. While Digital River should obviously have seen this coming and I am not defending them, a quick google solved the problem.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Easy solution which works

    Just bittorrent / copy an install DVD (I used the one which I pre-ordered from PC World) and use the key which they email out. I have done this and it works.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    $30 = £30? Yep... sounds about right.

  5. Wibble

    Digital River seem to be up the Swanee

    I tried to buy some software from Digital River (their "Share-it" brand) but couldn't because their address fields don't work for UK credit cards. Then the bank details don't complete.

    Sod all customer service from them, so my demo's expired and I've ended up going for some different software.

    Hardly surprising to see this headline

  6. Anonymous Coward


    Both of the unpackers and downloaders work flawlessly on Wine.

  7. Matt Brigden


    I purchased the update for 64bit . Downloaded fast and it unpacked into a folder it was in no way a disk image . To get that you had to download the Win7 AIK (Another gb odd of data) which comes with no instructions . A quick google can get you the command line to turn the unusable folder into an iso . Then burn and install .

    My laptop had Win7 RC1 32bit Ult on it , Custom install and format then the upgrade went straight in . No prompting for previous versions or anything . So unless it detected the Vista restore files in the hidden partition I have no idea why it worked at all .

    Whole thing would of been a lot less painful with a straight up iso to begin with . Then again if they made it easy you wouldnt bother buying the backup disk now would you .....

  8. The BigYin
    Jobs Horns


    "There is a widely accepted standard for passing images of discs in file form. This standard is cross-platform, supported by many pieces of software on many OSs and understood by just about everybody.

    But as MS do not own this standard, it lacks MS-specific extension, gives tacit support for interoperability and cohesion in the IT world; MS cannot use it.

    We therefore went for our own proprietary system that is totally MS centric and perfect for MS needs. It does not fit with customer needs, but those are not our concern.

    Any customers with problems should go and buy a new PC from one of our partners.

    This will let MS count the Win7 install for this user twice, stimulate the economy, drive down prices through increased consumption and save the world."

  9. Gordon Jahn

    Seriously... can understand why people just get ISO files from BitTorrent. Once again those who pay have the most aggro.

    I'm starting to think we should have a Proprietary Technology tax and anything that doesn't use open standards has to pay it. Anything to get rid of the constant increase in crap standards, from Nespresso capsules to .BOX image formats. Companies who play the standards game properly can then benefit from being able to offer lower prices to consumers.

    That's the high level - I've no idea how to make it work in real life though... :-s

  10. Dan Hall

    Digital River == FAIL

    Problems with Digital River? I'm shocked! Shocked!

    This is a company that will basically give you the finger if you purchase something and then the download fails. They try to get customers to pay "protection money" on top of the price of the software "just in case" something bad happens. Dealing with them I've gotten the strong impression of a big guy in a bad suit saying "Youse wouldn't want nottin to happen to your download, would youse?" in a cheesy New-York accent.

    Digital River and Microsoft together? A marriage made in heaven, no doubt.

  11. npupp 1


    some of us didn't get sent the license key :S still waiting on reply from Digital River :/

  12. Rupert Roker

    work around

    I got Windows 7 on Friday night and after some confusion had it working by Saturday afternoon (and no I didn't work straight through the night). The instructions on My Digital Live ( worked for me. I made one small change in that I didn't put a -1 before Win_en_DVD (as it didn't work if I did).

    I'm writing this from my laptop in Windows 7 after reformatting and doing a clean install. Interestingly despite it being an upgrade license it didn't try and verify my previous license.

    Despite the fact that I've found my first bug (screen brightness slider vanishes occasionally) I think this was £30 very well spent. A much better user experience than XP.

  13. Plasma

    A slightly different problem

    My upgrade from Vista x64 went according to plan until I searched back through my emails to find my product key. Turns out they haven't sent me one!

    So i tried to get in touch with them. They're not answering the phone, which incidentally is an Irish number, so an international call from Blighty. I've resorted to leaving a message on the very generic "Contact Us" form, which told me that my order number doesn't exist.


  14. Juan Inamillion


    Whether the unpackers and downloaders work or not this has to be the most cack-handed way of software delivery via intertube.

    Look, Mr A. Punter was expecting to download a copy of Widnose 7 which, perfectly reasonably, he expected to 'run' and install. All us techies might find a way round the problems outlined here but it's grossly unfair on Mr Punter, you know, the average user who wants a simple upgrade.

    WTF couldn't they have just made an iso copy of the install DVD?

  15. BigMikeyP

    RE: Workarounds

    100% agree.

    Like nickrw, I have also unpacked the .box files and (after searching briefly via Google - try "Windows 7 upgrade bootable iso" or similar) managed to find a cmd command to make the files into a bootable .iso file.

    Burned to blank media and was up and running with my install.

    This DVD can then be used for as many installs as needed, providing you have purchased a key from Microsoft.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    no problem downloading, installing or using Linux!

    And it was free.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Not a Problem

    Didn't have a problem. My Digital River download and install went perfectly and I even created my own bootable ISO.

  18. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Wow that's dumb

    OK, so I think if people buy an upgrade without understanding the restrictions, that's the customers problem. I'm not going to gloat or anything, I don't know if x86 Ubuntu to x86-64 Ubuntu upgrades work either.

    But BOX files? That's dumb. Really dumb. Just allow resumable downloads, with perhaps a torrent option, like everyone else distributing huge files.

    [QUOTE]Stop grumbling, my Windows 7 x64 laptop runs fine, it was previously Vista x86. While Digital River should obviously have seen this coming and I am not defending them, a quick google solved the problem.[/QUOTE]

    Well, you ARE defending them by telling people to stop grumbling. If anyone else's FREE updates fall over for more than maybe an hour, it's news. Charging for an upgrade and having it fail? Definitely worth grumbling over.

  19. OffBeatMammal

    Why the heck did MS use Digital River?

    Gotta wonder if this wasn't something foisted upon them by various regulations.

    They already have several perfectly decent ways of getting bits electronically to users (and MSDN uses .iso for everything) and they have payment systems so it wouldn't have been tough

  20. John70


    Don't know why they are using .BOX

    I can download Win7 from MSDN in ISO format.

  21. kain preacher Silver badge

    It's digital rivers

    My school has an MSDN subscription. I down loaded the down load manger ( which does let you resume failed down loads ) and what I got was an ISO file. SO why is digital rivers doing some thing different ?

  22. Mal Franks


    I just used a handy app called Wintoflash that created a bootable usb flashdrive with the setup files on it.

  23. TeeCee Gold badge

    Re: Re: Workarounds

    So there's more than one person here who can think outside the .box?

  24. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Digital River goofed again, no surprise here

    The Digital River purchase website had severly broken links up to a month ago. And there was no way to contact them. This is no surprise that the botched the release given the poor web site maintenance they presented for months.

  26. Jimmy Floyd
    Thumb Up


    You may be right about it working. According to the Microsoft site:

    Error “We are unable to create or save new files in the folder in which this application was downloaded.” This error occurs when you are in the unloading phase of the 64-bit Windows 7 download process and are running a 32-bit version of Windows such as Windows XP or Windows Vista 32-bit. This is by design as you cannot launch setup for the 64-bit version of Widows 7 while running a 32-bit operating system.

    Ah well, I think I can afford to waste a DVD finding out if it burns properly.

  27. PaulR79
    Thumb Up

    Unique case?

    I haven't seen anyone else mention this and thought it would be more widespread but apparently not. I ordered the Windows 7 Professional 64-bit version and backup DVD on 21st then got the e-mail saying it was ready to download just after midnight on 22nd. Downloaded and got confused by the non-ISO solution they'd chosen and burning the files to DVD didn't work. In the end I got it working but it was a pain.

    A day or two later the backup DVD arrived but aside from that I received an e-mail about the problems encountered with downloading which also informed me that I was being refunded the £30 in full plus the cost of the backup DVD / extended download service if purchased while the software was mine to keep! Unexpected? Yes. Free copy of Windows 7 Professional? Yes. Happy customer? Definitely.

  28. rigsby


    had the student download prob going from Vista x86 to win7 x64 but did the workround and burned .iso. everything now working and posting from win7 x64 pro for £30. Is anybody gonna be cheeky and try for a refund for all our troubles? no harm in it i guess. emailed digital river earlier so will wait and see. may get an early xmas present, you never know!

  29. SKiNFreak
    Thumb Down

    Could not make an ISO for love nor money

    Nope. Could not get the ISO built or burt correctly - think my DVD burner is duff - resorted to putting it on a USB flash and installed that way. Formatted hgard drvie then realised my MBR was I destoryed it by installing ubuntu and then running the win 7 installer. Microsoft obviously don't like Linux because the installer worked a treat, erasing every scrap of Linux from my drive. Perfect install! And this was supposed to be upgrade only? No problem...

    But, WHERE IS MY KEY? I bet you any money it'll take 30 days to get my damn key sent/put on the site. But will they respond to my emails?

  30. Dale 3

    I had no problem...

    ...because I'm not an early adopter. Happy to let all those who are iron out the problems. Ok, so many people wanted to get away from Vista as soon as humanly possible, but apart from those, seriously did you NEED to install Win7 exactly on Thursday?

  31. Peter Hewitt

    A morning wasted

    I spent an entire morning battling with this god awful software, not least because it wqasn't even clear what file had downloaded. Three other people did the same as I did and went looking for the .iso and accidently deleted the completed download by relaunching the downloader expecting there to be a button on it.

    Eventually it was sorted by putting it on a flash drive, burning it to a DVD might have worked if it then didn't ask for a driver for the DVD drive it was running from :S

  32. Mike Tubby

    Workarounds... more

    Nickrw is indeed correct!

    The 64-bit version appears to fail at the end of the unpack but has not. Once unpacked attempting to run the Setup program fails with an x86/64bit incompatibility error and initally this stumped by 16 year old son...

    However a bit of googling reveals an M$ program called oscdimg.exe on Technet:

    that's able to take the unpacked box files and make an ISO from them... run this process (takes about 15 mins) and burn the resultant ISO to a DVD (I used Infrarecorder - but Nero should do too) and you end up with a bootable DVD that works 100%

    Ok, so a bumpy ride and an extra hour-and-a-halk but the 16 year old has his Windows-7 student edition installed and is back up and running... me... I us Ubuntu :-)

  33. 555

    Where is my serial number ??

    I am lacking my SERIAL KEY also! I printed out the page they asked you to do in order to get the serial number. I went back to check my innvoice online and there was no bloody serial for it so I am still wondering how on earth I managed to upgrade my Vista to Windows 7 by clicking "NEXT" button without putting any serial.

    I do expect to get the serial within the next week or so but if that wont happen, I am going to ask my bank to stop the payment I made in order to purchase this Windows 7!

  34. Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, it sucked! But you get what you pay for

    The reports of Digital river's fail here on El Regl, actually prompted me and most of my colleagues, the IT support dept of a sixth form college to take up the offer. Microsoft's incompetence keeps me in employment.

    £30 quid for Pro is actually affordable - anyone who thinks £150 quid is a reasonable price can pay it the rest of us won't I will pay 30 though. Maybe the other £120 quid is for the CD?

    I the download to our surprise did actually work. However it wouldn't expand its self on a network drive. Not being an ISO.Or having sufficient non networked space it was pretty useless. It did beat my attempts trying to make a bootable cd out of it. One of the others did manage, though he probably wasn't trying to use the version of nero cheapo addition that came with a craptop - by that time we'd got another copy of elsewhere that took our reasonably priced codes. So if your an IT tech in a college its a bloody good deal. If on the other hand your a punter god help you!

    No normal (non pro IT) person I know could have safely (IE without destructions of data or other disaster) be expected to actually use this system. Your supposed to run set up from your XP drive (complete with restore partition and custom boot loader) and it will work properly. No Chance.

    The only reason to go for it its for the License Key. And as the guy at the top says bittorrent (for all I know thats where the CD I used came from). In fact Microsoft please can you upload it to the pirate bay it would make it a lot easier!

  35. frymaster

    upgrade license != upgrade install

    "It would seem that despite the software requiring a clean install rather than a straightforward upgrade, many perplexed punters were still able to buy the software via Digital River, without being warned that their current OS was unable to perform the upgrade"

    if you have an upgrade license you are only allowed to install windows over the top of an existing (licensed) copy. There's nothing to stop you performing a clean install, however.

    The only roadbump is you _HAVE_ to start by booting up your old system and running the setup program on the disk. It then detects that you need to perform a clean install, and goes off and does it (noting that you previously had windows installed). When it comes time to acticate, it remembers that you had windows installed and lets you use an upgrade key.

  36. Colonel Mad

    Yes Ok But

    I followed the advice about turning the dowloaded file into an iso and got Win 7 64 installed and then set about sticking all my other programmes in, I got nearly all the way when I stared to notice messages like," Hi you've just about got enough space to install Adobe reader 999.4 on this partition," what! a whole 85 GB. It had kept all three dowloads I had done, plus the iso and Old win at 35 gb, plus a whole bunch of other stuff, talk about a 'clean' install

  37. steven ross

    Still no serial number

    Worked through the errors caused by unpacking a 64bit install on a 32bit system, built a usable ISO using 3rd party tools and instructions but still have no serial number! Nothing on the invoice, emails or online account.

    Quite possibly the most cack handed software distribution I've ever seen.

  38. James 132


    In the case of the 32bit to 32bit, yes, that's correct. However, Microsoft's own instructions advise you to backup and boot from the media if you are changing from a 32bit system - the setup program will not work. In this case, the licensing is basically on the honour system.

  39. MetalWolf

    Missing Serial Number....

    I had the same issue as some others where I didn't get a serial number emailed to me. The second phone call (if you try and order a new copy once you have been given approval and login the I require help has a UK 0808 number) they eventually decided to read my serial number to me. Incidently even after getting the email through about retrieving my serial number, it didn't work.

  40. Lewis Mettler 1

    Linux is easy

    Download ISO file, burn to disc using software included with prior version and boot from DVD.

    Who are those idiots that claim Linux is too complicated?

    Got two systems? Install twice. Got three? Install 3 times. Got ten. Install ten times.

    Your problem is paying for too high a price for crap software distributed by a bunch of idiots trying to prevent you from using any software.

    Not interested in anything Microsoft has to say.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: $30 = £30?

    Yep, that's after the "££$% you, we won the war!" tax, courtesy of most US firms.

  42. Penguin007

    "they have chosen to use a non-standard format"

    Never! Who'd have thunk?

  43. Rob Beard
    Thumb Up

    Just downloading now, with everything crossed

    Well after realising that my other half is still technically a student (even though she hasn't been on the course for over a year) I've stumped up £30 for the Home Premium version. It's downloading now but I'm paranoid about having any problems. Maybe we should have paid for the backup DVD or extended download.

    Does anyone know by any chance if this version can be legally transferred to another PC (for instance if I upgrade my other half's PC)?

    I was under the impression that it was an full version too, hey for 30 quid though you can't really argue. I was tempted to fork out for Office 2007 too, but nah, I'll stick with OpenOffice and save us £38.


  44. Gersoid

    Digital River - Avoid like the plague

    Like others here, I've down loaded a set of files which will allegedly permit installation of Win7 - but no product key.

    And since the Digital River site is screwed, you can't get in to their customer support site. A valic customer order is rejected.

    You thus can't contact them!

    MS are useless - they won;t provide a key (fair enough) but don;t know a Digital River telephone number (not fair enough - they are working with DR and I suspect are being deluged with complaints)

  45. Nick Pettefar

    Restart Required!

    I just tried to use the bootable flash solution to install Windows 7 on a laptop and so plugged my memory stick into a Windows 7 PC to check the contents. It told me it was installing drivers to use the device and then told me I would have to restart the PC.

    Are we going backwards here?

  46. Anonymous Coward

    A valid key would be nice

    You can in fact get an ISO image from DigitalRiver - if you say you're upgrading from a 32bit system to a 64bit version of Win7. No problem there, I have the ISO image on DVD now. Go to install it though, and lo and behold - the key is invalid. It takes 2 days for DigRiver to reply to messages, and then they just refer you back to the 'how to enter a licence key' help page. If you (even politely) point out that you're a SysAdmin and can quite competently enter a licence key, you simply get ignored. I've contacted MS UK, but so far haven't heard back from them either.

    If the Win7 launch was supposed to erase all the bad karma surrounding Vista, then IMHO MS have failed dismally. Again. I guess I'll be staying with XP 64bit a while longer... and will be demanding a refund which will no doubt, also be ignored. Pissed off? Me? Whatever gave you that idea...

    Joke icon, cos thats what the Win7 for Students promo is. An absolute fucking joke.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019