OEM or Retail - Need Advice

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by Melodeath, May 10, 2010.

  1. Melodeath macrumors 6502a

    Dec 9, 2009
    Ok I had a desktop PC I used for years on which I installed an OEM Windows XP disc. That PC has since died (that's why I bought a 2010 i7 15" MBP).

    I want to install Windows on my new MBP.

    1) is my XP OEM disc useless? Is it locked to the motherboard on the desktop that is dead, and can't be activated elsewhere?
    2) Am I eligible for the "Upgrade" edition of Windows 7 since I have XP, even if that computer is dead? Or will I not be able to install the upgrade edition anyway since that PC died?
    3) Are there limitations between Retail and OEM editions of Windows 7? Home Premium Upgrade Retail is only $10 more than OEM Windows 7 Home on newegg, so if retail allows you to install Windows 7 on a new computer years down the line (if your previous one dies/gets upgraded), I'd rather pay the $10 now than buy Windows 7 OEM again later on.

    Thanks for helping out
  2. balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    When it comes to OEM, nothing is clear. Except that Microsoft does not intend for OEM to be used by end users. http://oem.microsoft.com/script/contentpage.aspx?PageID=563841

    Read this for one reasonable take on this issue: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/bott/is-it-ok-to-use-oem-windows-on-your-own-pc-dont-ask-microsoft/1561

    Now to your questions:

    1) Not useless. You could always use it as a drink coaster or mirror. :p Seriously many folks have reported being able to transfer generic OEM licenses from one machine to another with no quarrel from Microsoft. If the disc came pre-installed on a third party "brand" PC, it is less likely to work though.

    2) You are just about as eligible for the retail upgrade as you are for a new OEM license. It's a shade of grey.

    3) Being that retail upgrade can be installed clean (see Paul Thurrott's fine guide), and it is more "mobile" this seems like a reasonable plan. It's definitely a shade a grey, but as long as you are comfortable with it. There is no technological reason not to do that. In principle, you need to be able to transfer the underlying license to the new PC, but they do not seem to have implemented a way to actually enforce this.

  3. KeriJane macrumors 6502a


    Sep 26, 2009

    By the sound of it you built your PC and installed Windows yourself with an OEM System Builders version of Windows.

    When you activated it with MS, an identifier code based upon your unique, specific hardware was sent to MS along with the product ID based upon the CD-Key. This data is retained in their system as well as on your machine.

    Try to install the same product ID/CD Key on a different system and it will not Activate. Make too many hardware changes too soon and you break the Activation.
    However, if it's been more than 180 days or so since the last Activation it will probably activate on a different system. Why? This is to allow for major upgrades such as new motherboards.

    So, Yes, it will probably install and activate OK.
    But you shouldn't do this for the following reasons:

    1- It violates the agreement you made to install it on ONE computer. The one you stuck the COA sticker on.
    2- You didn't build the Mac so you're not authorized (by MS) to install OEM software on it.
    3- You will have NO support and if MS happens to find out it's on a Mac or under a Virtual Machine like Parallels they will likely cancel the license and activation.

    MS wants us Mac Users to buy the "Full Retail Box" version of Windows for our Intel Macs. As they didn't come with an OEM version of Windows, Macs aren't eligible for Upgrade versions either.

    That's just MS doing what they do best:
    Charging lots of money for inferior software! :eek:

    Have Fun,

    PS. Just buy that Full Retail Box and get it over with! Full retail DOES allow moving the installation to a different machine. (so long as you remove it from the old one first)

    PPS. OEM Licenses are tied to the original computer. While not transferrable, major upgrades are allowed. Some interpret this as meaning "replacing everything but that little screw there" qualifies as a "Major Upgrade". MS's giant army of Lawyers might not.
  4. hexonxonx macrumors 601

    Jul 4, 2007
    Denver Colorado
    As far as question one is concerned, it can be installed only on one computer at a time unless you have a few different serial numbers.

    I have an OEM XP disc that came with my four year old HP. I can use the disk to install XP on that HP because it has a built in serial number. I have also used that same disc to install XP on my MBP using Bootcamp. I also have an extra serial number from a broken down HP that works for my OEM XP disc as well when installing it to my MBP. The XP install on the MBP activates perfectly with MS. This is perfectly legal because it's using two different serial numbers to install.

    Some OEM discs perform a check to insure that it is being installed only on the computer it was intended for but those are usually system recovery disks. The disk I have is labeled Operating System CD, XP home edition Service Pack Two. It's basically a real XP disc without the MS XP label. It also doesn't contain the bloatware that HP loads on their computers. It's a standard XP install.
  5. Melodeath thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Dec 9, 2009
    My OEM install is from 3 years ago. The activation is old. I was definitely planning to upgrade my desktop before it died. I had no idea there was a chance I would have to buy windows again.

    So, installing an upgrade version of Windows 7 under bootcamp would technically work, but is against the Microsoft EULA?

    Thanks again for the info
  6. balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    Installing a retail upgrade version of W7 under Boot Camp on "bare metal" will work. I did it that way on my MacBook even though I already had Vista on there just to check. Follow the guide: http://www.winsupersite.com/win7/clean_install_upgrade_media.asp

    You need to read the EULA and decide for yourself if you are complying with it or not.


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