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1539 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 39


  Reply # 299874 17-Feb-2010 18:39
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ZollyMonsta: Ok, I just got a rather confusing email from Expert Infotech.

Can someone please explain the differences between the actual software on the CD for 'OEM' and 'RETAIL' ?

As far as I understand, retail comes with a fancy retail box.. whereas OEM is more a plain distribution. Am I right?

I believe the only difference comes down to activation, OEM is single pc and the activation cant be moved to different computers, where as retail can be de activated and re activated

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  Reply # 299875 17-Feb-2010 18:52
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ive moved oem vista business several times from a mac running parallels to a pc then to a newer pc. last activation required a phone call to MS but no issues


2615 posts

Uber Geek
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  Reply # 299878 17-Feb-2010 19:03
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Seems pretty pointless for Retail then.. might as well go OEM once again.

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352 posts

Ultimate Geek

  Reply # 299885 17-Feb-2010 19:25
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Actually, OEM system builders must use OPK to install Windows, whereas Retail is install from the disc. Of course I install via OPK... of course!

2918 posts

Uber Geek
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  Reply # 299906 17-Feb-2010 19:45
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rvangelder: I'm pretty sure my store is not breaking any laws.

Yeah, it is.  Not laws, but certainly violating tha license:

To distribute the Software or Hardware in this Pack, you must be a System Builder and accept this license. “System Builder” means an original equipment manufacturer, an assembler, a refurbisher, or a software pre-installer that sells the Customer System(s) to a third party

I finally have fibre!  Had to leave the country to get it though.

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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 299907 17-Feb-2010 19:45
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OPK? Now you're just confusing me further :P

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352 posts

Ultimate Geek

  Reply # 299941 17-Feb-2010 21:26
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Yeh, OPK. It's a program for building an imaging disc... that disc that comes with new computers... the one you boot from when you've been playing just a little bit too much, and all other options have failed and you need to start again.
It's a good idea in theory, if only to get the right drivers installed first time (even if they're dated).
In practise, though, they'll come with a 3 minute trial of norton, and a billion useless tray icons.

839 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 46


  Reply # 300805 21-Feb-2010 20:07
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chrisjunkie: That is actually against Microsoft's Ts&Cs. It clearly states must be sold on new PC's (or with hardware)

Your store is breaking the law :O

No its not but its a common confusion even Microsoft staff sometimes seem cloudy on what you can and cant do with OEM.

OEM system builder software packs are intended for PC and server manufacturers or assemblers ONLY. They are not intended for distribution to end users. Unless the end user is actually assembling his/her own PC, in which case, that end user is considered a system builder as well.

Or how about:
AUTHORIZED DISTRIBUTION AND ACCEPTANCE. Distribution of individual software licenses or hardware units contained in this Microsoft System Builder Pack (“package”) is not authorized unless you accept this license. You accept this license when you open this package. By accepting this license, you agree that you are a system builder. If you do not open this package, you may deliver it to another system builder

So there is nothing that says OEM has to be sold along with hardware.  The only requirements is the OEM license dies with the PC, cant be transferred, the OEM/System Builder is supposed to provide support instead of Microsoft.

839 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 300810 21-Feb-2010 20:17
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This link provides  a bit more info.

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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 300818 21-Feb-2010 20:41
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Also whoever provides the OEM software is the one you call for support not Microsoft.


17 posts


  Reply # 300942 22-Feb-2010 11:25
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Let me add my 5 cents.
I've been dealing with Microsoft licensing for the past several years.
The problem is not a law itself, nor different functionality. It's all about EULA and OEM Builder agreements.

But first of all, I'm not an MS sales person :), I'm just an end user (both corporate and personal), which had to learn much about the subject from MS licensing consulting; the following is MS's point of view, and as a product's author, MS is protected by copyright laws. Please don't ask me for references and quotations for laws and agreements, I just share my knowledge about how should it all be.

1. OEM versions are intended to be distributed by OEM Builders, which are defined as companies/persons building computers for reselling, and not for personal use. That is why these versions are cheaper - because they intended to be bought by large amount, for quick promotion of the software by its pre-installing, and are subject for some limitations (see further). By the partner's/reseller's agreement, a seller must sell the oEM version with a new system or with an essential piece of computer hardware, such as motherboard or HDD. OEM version is subject for OEM Builder agreement, which requires its buyer to use it for re-selling systems, and not for personal use. Therefore, a store can/should sell it with a significant piece of hardware (not RAM stick or mouse), but buyer can't (by the agreement) use it personally. Againg, these are the conditions of the agreements. Consequently, you can follow a phrase on a package that reads, by opening this package you agree with this agreement; further relationships are subject for copyright and other laws. Only when you failed to follow an agreement there's theoretically a law issue.

2. OEM Builder is required by the agreement to pre-install the OEM software, place a sticker on the system's case and sell it accompanying by the installation media. Only after all these steps the software is considered legitimate.

3. Practically, a store can sell an OEM software even with no hardware at all, and a buyer can install it on his/her computer for personal use. This will still work without a problem. But the use of the software won't be legitimate, because he/she fails following the agreement, whereas using a copyrighted product is always subject for an agreement of some kind, implicit or explicit.

4. A system is defined by MS as a motherboard. This means, when you activate Windows/Office, your copy is "sticked" to your motherboard. In fact, for activation it uses also HDD's and RAM IDs (and might be some more hardware IDs, who knows), therefore, if you change some hardware components, a re-activation could be required. If a problem appears with automatic re-activation, you can call MS, explain the problem, confirm that it's still the same system, and they will assist you with re-activation. Also, if the motherboard is fired, you'll obviously need re-activation, and you will have to call MS and confirm the fact of fired motherboard to receive re-activation assistance. You can't transfer OEM software to another system, even if you destroy the original one. OEM software is not transferrable. When you decommission a system or gift it, or give it up in any other way, you will lose your OEM software license, and you can't leave the license. Retail and Volume Licensing software is transferrable, and you can give up the system and leave the license, and apply it to a new hardware.

5. Once you activated your software, you can't activate it again on a new system, the procedure will fail. The only exclusion is for fired motherboard (see above).

6. Of cause, if there's a deal with software supply, there's a huge temptation to supply OEM verion, since it much cheaper. The deal even will be legitimate, but not the use. The customer will be a victim, since they coudn't install the software on the existing systems. Again, in fact they could, but the use won't be legitimate, which means they flush their money.

7. The difference in packaging for OEM and Retail is the consequence of their purpose. The former is generally for "factories", which need only the media and the sticker; the latter is for end customers, to attract them in stores. As sbiddle sad, for Vista and 7 the contents is the same, only the product key determines the functionality; but for XP there were different installers for OEM, Retail and VL.

8. The MS licensing have been a big confusion for years, and AFAIK they intend to review their licensing scheme this year to simplify it.

Againg, please don't argue with me and ask me why, the mentioned above are not my rules, but MS's ones. :)

Hope this will help.

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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 309955 22-Mar-2010 21:20
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holy heck, definitely 5 cents worth there.

but thanks for the clarifcations. Good post

204 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 309973 22-Mar-2010 21:50
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According to MS rules :

OEM - Comes with a new PC and is usually the cheapest way to buy a Windows OS. Must be bought within 90 days of hardware purchase. Non transferable to other hardware.

Retail FPP - Best option if you have under 5 machines or are buying less than 5 software titles for hardware that is not new. You can add on software assurance to it, and transfer it to other machines, if you upgrade machines etc. Unless specifically mentioned, one FPP licence, means one instance of installation. I.e. you cant (legally) install it on 10 machines using one CD.

If you need more see

I would love to change the world, but they won't give me the source code


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