Microsoft Answers 'Vista OEM' Questions

Discussion in 'Windows Vista Installation' started by MICHAEL, Jan 30, 2007.


    MICHAEL Guest

    To me, this is important enough to post in its entirety.

    While I can not find an "official" link from Microsoft-
    PCMag is a reputable source.,1759,2087792,00.asp

    By Mark Hachman

    A Microsoft representative confirmed that users may buy an OEM copy of Windows Vista at a
    substantial discount, provided they adhere to the terms of the license - which, incidentally,
    may mean providing support for family members.

    In addition, users should still be subject to the same familiar re-activation restrictions as
    users of a retail Vista license and Windows XP, a spokeswoman said. Users can alter the PC's
    hardware substantially, but they will be forced to reactivate - not repurchase the OEM
    software - if they do, she said.
    One system builder pointed out, however, that Microsoft's OEM license forbids the software from
    being transferred to a whole new machine, from scratch, once it is installed on the original
    target machine.

    OEM copies of Vista began showing up this week at e-tailers like, for substantial
    discounts, which can run up to half off the price of a standalone retail copy of Microsoft's
    Windows Vista operating system. Microsoft is also offering its own in-house discounts, in the
    form of a Vista Family Pack, which allows the purchase of up to two copies of Vista Home
    Premium for $49.99, provided that a customer buy Windows Vista Ultimate at full price, through

    For those who don't need a full manual, however, the Windows Vista OEM versions offer
    substantial savings. Normally, such versions are restricted to "System Builders," not large
    corporations purchasing thousands or even hundreds of copies of the operating systems through
    Microsoft's volume licensing programs, but small mom-and-pop computer shops building individual
    systems for local communities. The license is agreed to when the shrink-wrap the package is
    sealed into is broken.

    "System Builder software is designed for OEM system builders, and specifically for
    pre-installation on new PCs," said Elissa Brown, a Microsoft spokeswoman, via an email. "So,
    this software isn't really intended to be installed by end-users. OEM versions of Windows Vista
    that are delivered through the System Builder channel are licensed via a 'break-the-seal' model
    (in other words, the System Builder License on the outside of the software package is
    agreed-upon when the package is opened)."

    Although retailers like Newegg have typically been prohibited from providing the software
    without accompanying hardware, Brown said this wasn't true. Readers of PC Magazine and
    report that Newegg has continued its practice of bundling a token hardware component - drive
    cables, case screws or other knickknacks - as a way to offload any legal obligation.

    "As long as Newegg is distributing the System Builder version of Windows Vista in an unopened
    package with the System Builder License adhered to the outside of the package, Newegg is not
    responsible for offering end user support," Brown said. "The party who opens the package (thus
    accepting the System Builder License) is required to offer end user support."

    More specifically, "the system builder must place its support phone number in a noticeable
    location in the fully assembled computer system help files or end-user documentation,"
    according to the terms of a publicly posted System Builder license posted to Microsoft's Web
    site. That version of the license does not specifically mention Windows Vista, however.

    The OEM version of the Vista versions lacks a manual, but includes a "Quick Start" installation
    guide, Brown said. The Vista OEM versions will allow a user either to do a fresh installation,
    or to upgrade their previous Windows XP installation, she said.

    As for activation, Brown said users could expect a return to the familiar activation scenario.
    Windows Vista, like XP, contains an electronic list of the components within the PC, which it
    turns into a code, or hash. If a user adds or subtracts too many components, the hash will
    change enough that it will signal the need for another activation, which can be done either
    online or via telephone.

    Vista, however, will apparently be a bit more tolerant of the DIY community: "Windows Vista is
    more intelligent and a bit more lenient than Windows XP around hardware tolerance," Brown said.
    She referred questions to Microsoft's Windows Activation Web page, which does not address
    Windows Vista.

    In Windows XP, the software looked at ten hardware attributes to create the hash: the display
    adapter, the SCSI adapter, the IDE adapter, the network adapter and its MAC address, a "RAM
    amount range" (0-64 Mbytes, 64-128 Mbytes, etc.), the processor type, the processor serial
    number, the hard drive device, the hard drive volume serial number and the

    "Specifically, product activation determines tolerance through a voting mechanism," the XP
    Activation FAQ says. "There are 10 hardware characteristics used in creating the hardware hash.
    Each characteristic is worth one vote, except the network card which is worth three votes. When
    thinking of tolerance, it's easiest to think about what has not changed instead of what has
    changed. When the current hardware hash is compared to the original hardware hash, there must
    be 7 or more matching points for the two hardware hashes to be considered in tolerance."

    One reader, who identified himself as a system builder in an email, said he felt that receiving
    an activation code was not the same as adhering to the terms of the OEM license.

    "Even though you can phone an activation rep overseas to activate the software you're violating
    the EULA and committing piracy," said the builder, who posted a similar note in the discussion
    forums attached to this story.

    "It's important that people understand the OEM EULA when it says that your OEM Vista (XP is the
    same) can not be transferred to a new computer, and a new (upgraded) motherboard is also
    considered a new computer," the system builder added. "I've activated hundreds of PCs over the
    years and have never had an activation rep ask if I am transferring the OEM software to a new
    PC. The only question that you must answer correctly (no) in order to receive the activation
    code is: "Is this version of Windows on more than one PC?". Therefore the end user assumes that
    since they received an activation code they must be legal." Editor's Note: This story was
    updated at 9:20 AM EDT on Jan. 29 with comments from a reader.

    Q. Can my customers transfer or sell their OEM software licenses?

    A. After an OEM software license has been installed on a PC, the license may not be installed
    on or transferred to another PC. However, the entire PC may be transferred to another end user
    along with the software license rights. When transferring the PC to the new end user the
    software media, manuals (if applicable) and certificate of authenticity label must be included.
    It is also advisable to include the original purchase invoice or receipt. The original end user
    cannot keep any copies of the software.

    The end user license agreement (EULA) is granted to the end user by the System Builder and
    relates to the license on the PC with which it was originally distributed. Because the System
    Builder is required to support the license on that original PC, a System Builder can not
    support a license that has been moved from a PC they manufactured to one that they did not.
    This is one of the key reasons why an OEM System Builder license can't be transferred. For more
    information, click here.

    Q. My customer bought a new PC and wants to move their OEM software from the old PC to the new
    one. Can't they do whatever they want with the software?

    A. The OEM software is licensed with the computer system on which it was originally installed
    and is tied to that original machine. OEM licenses are single-use licenses that cannot be
    installed on more than one computer system even if the original machine is no longer in use.
    The end user license agreement (EULA) accepted by the customer before they use the software,
    states that the license may not be shared, transferred to or used concurrently on different
    computers. The System Builder is required to provide end-user support for the Windows license.
    A System Builder can not support a license that has been moved from a PC they manufactured to
    one that they did not - this is a fundamental reason why OEM System Builder licenses can't be
    MICHAEL, Jan 30, 2007
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    pvdg42 Guest

    Thank you!
    Perhaps this will dispel some of the rumors and FUD being spread around.
    pvdg42, Jan 30, 2007
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    SAM-R Guest

    The main reason Vista OEM costs so much less that retail is MS does not
    support OEM. If you buy OEM and have a problem and contact MS for help, you
    will be told to contact the OEM or pay MS for support and MS support is not
    SAM-R, Jan 30, 2007

    Henry Jones Guest

    Once you have the OEM version you can come to these public groups and
    probably get your answer for free!
    Henry Jones, Jan 30, 2007

    Opinicus Guest

    If this is true, it means that:

    1. Microsoft has abjured the "the motherboard is the computer" line that it
    adopted recently.

    2. Anybody who "builds a system" is by definition a "system builder" and can
    therefore lawfully buy and install an OEM copy.

    3. Those who want to do a "clean installation" of Vista now have a
    Redmond-sanctioned way of doing so. (Presumably the OEM Vista can only be
    installed on a newly formatted HD?)

    4. I'm in line to buy OEM copies of Vista for my and my wife's machines.
    Opinicus, Jan 30, 2007

    Brian W Guest

    Appaerntly, the OEM discs can upgrade from XP as well (according to
    information posted here the other day).
    Brian W, Jan 31, 2007
  7. My Question is When are they comming out with Service Pack 2 for Vista.???
    (LOL LOL ) but seriously yes OEM can be installed from a Microsoft xp Pro
    install & Microsoft Xp Home install for sure. iknow it for a fact.
    Phillip T. Craig, Feb 1, 2007
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