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Thread: Windows OEM versions - what Microsoft told me

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    Taz
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    Windows OEM versions - what Microsoft told me

    I called up MS Support earlier today to ensure that I fully understand what I can and cannot do. I have an OEM version of XP on my home-built system that is activated and registered with Microsoft. My motherboard is failing so I need to replace that and the CPU at the very least. This renders my OEM XP useless.

    I enquired about re-registering/re-activating my OEM XP when I get my new motherboard. I was told an interesting list of 'facts' by the MS support person:

    1. I shouldn't have had an OEM copy in the first place.

    2. The OEM copy is for registered system builders only. It is not to be sold to end users.

    3. The OEM copy is for one-use, one-computer only. If the hardware fails then OEM XP needs to be repurchased.

    4. I should be using a retail copy of Windows XP.

    5. If I changed my motherboard then it is recommended that I purchase Windows XP Professional Retail Edition.

    Now, this is very disappointing so i'm hoping someone can clarify some of these points and what the best option for me is.

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    Vive le pants! directhex's Avatar
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    Re: Windows OEM versions - what Microsoft told me

    your call center grunt is misinformed

    1) you're perfectly entitled to use OEM windows. anyone is, as long as they meet the purchase requirements

    2) there is no need to register in microsoft's OEM program to buy OEM windows - it simply needs to be bought with non-peripheral hardware (keyboard, mouse, cpu, motherboard, a few others i forget off the top of my head). remember, the person who bought and installed oem windows is your tech support contact, not MS - which means you

    3) OEM is for as many uses on one "computer" as need be. the "computer" is defined by the motherboard - with a specific licensing term allowing transfer of the license to equivalent hardware in the event of failure. note equivalent means identical or similar, you can't replace a failing socket A box with a socket 775 box and claim it's due to failure. that violates the license

    4) you can use retail windows if you want - you get extra things such as the right to transfer to as many new computers (boards) as you like, and tech support from MS

    5) if you change it for hardware failure reasons, you don't need retail. if you change it for any other reason, then you need a new oem license for each frivolous change - or a single retail license, which can be transferred

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    Will work for beer... nichomach's Avatar
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    Re: Windows OEM versions - what Microsoft told me

    All of what directhex said. The call centre droid was wrong.


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    Seething Cauldron of Hatred TheAnimus's Avatar
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    Re: Windows OEM versions - what Microsoft told me

    I'd write a letter to MS uk, explaining what the droid has told you, the time you made the call, and the number you made it from (if you allow caller id on your line).

    That is just incorrect, MS really should spend a fair chunk of the money they waste on protecting their licenses, on making sure they don't rip off their clients!
    throw new ArgumentException (String, String, Exception)

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    Re: Windows OEM versions - what Microsoft told me

    But, but!.. ripping off ligitimate clients gives us more money to screw them more while pirates/illigitimate clients reign hassle free.

    Why can't you just understand me?! *sob*

    On a more serious note, since MSFT doesn't mind telling whities about their license conditions.....

    Whatever you decide, vote with your feet.
    Last edited by aidanjt; 07-11-2007 at 12:47 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Agent View Post
    ...every time Creative bring out a new card range their advertising makes it sound like they have discovered a way to insert a thousand Chuck Norris super dwarfs in your ears...

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    Senior Member charleski's Avatar
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    Re: Windows OEM versions - what Microsoft told me

    'Misinformed'? Only where he talked about registered system builders. Otherwise, I don't think so.
    Self-build PC hackers have been slipping through the loopholes by using OEM licences for years, and MS is starting to tighten things up.

    OEM licences have always been designed for system builders. Since the PC market is littered with small outfits who do this the licence packs are made available through the channel. That does not mean you're 'entitled' to use an OEM licence for a machine you build for your own use. Where has MS ever said that? Nowhere. MS has always been artfully vague about their exact usage policy with regards to people who build their own machine.

    My advice is to replace the MB and then phone up to reactivate. This puts you through to the grunt department in India who just want to get you off the line and will be more accommodating.

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    Will work for beer... nichomach's Avatar
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    Re: Windows OEM versions - what Microsoft told me

    charleski, you're wrong. According to the OEM System Builder License (and I've built a LOT of these) a system builder is "an original equipment manufacturer, an assembler, refurbisher, or pre-installer of software on computer systems" - that's from Vista Business, and the XP version also included "re-assembler". It DOESN'T state that you have to be doing that for someone else.

    The grunt was wrong in every single particular.


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    Senior Member charleski's Avatar
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    Re: Windows OEM versions - what Microsoft told me

    Sorry, nichomach, but it's not so.

    Back in 2005 MS did actually change the XP OEM EULA to make it more explicit. See here. MS is not beyond being underhand to please everyone, and has thus allowed the continued sale of OEM licences through the channel despite what they say to keep systems builders happy. But it doesn't change the fact that according to the letter of the EULA, the only way for an end-user to obtain an OEM licence is by buying it with a fully-assembled system.

    [Edit]Just to make things clearer: The licence that comes with OEM Windows packs is given here. It does not grant you a licence to use the software, only to distribute it (section 3.1). The usage licence is a different one that the end-user agrees to on logging in for the first time. I have no idea what the legal status of distributing something to yourself is, and doubt that it's been tested in the courts, but the intent, at least, is reasonably clear.

    XP was easy to pirate, and MS turned a blind eye to the end-user OEM issue because they'd rather have people using an improperly-licensed OS than a completely illegal one. With the more robust anti-piracy measures in Vista I can see MS tightening the screws once Vista is secure in the marketplace.
    Last edited by charleski; 07-11-2007 at 01:20 PM.

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    Re: Windows OEM versions - what Microsoft told me

    There's still nothing in there that states that the end user may not be their own system builder. Indeed if you follow the link on that page (and get past the 404 to the current system builder license, viewable at: OEM Partner Site ), it STILL says "“System builder”
    means an original equipment manufacturer, or an assembler, reassembler, or installer of software on computer
    systems.".


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    Senior Member charleski's Avatar
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    Re: Windows OEM versions - what Microsoft told me

    As I said, the legal status of distributing something to yourself is AFAIK untested.

    But Section 15.1 of the XP OEM licence is very clear:
    "You must not advertise, provide a separate price for, or otherwise market or distribute individual software licenses, or any part of them, as separate items from the fully assembled computer system as applicable". So strictly-speaking it's a violation to sell OEM licences that aren't associated with a fully-assembled computer. By using software that has been sold in violation of the licence terms you are, strictly-speaking, voiding the licence. Because of the loophole where the retail channel overlaps with genuine small system builders this cannot be policed.

    Section 15.1 ends with:
    "Except as granted in this license, you may not use, run, distribute, copy, modify, display, repackage, or reassemble any individual software licenses or hardware units, or any part of them." As I said, the licence on the OEM pack does not grant a right to use the included software.

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    Senior Member usxhe190's Avatar
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    Re: Windows OEM versions - what Microsoft told me

    all these OEM restrictions really just point you to open source so quickly...and they are legit customers for microsoft previously...

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    Re: Windows OEM versions - what Microsoft told me

    Quote Originally Posted by charleski View Post
    As I said....
    If, however, I am intending to install the software on a new fully assembled computer system that I am assembling, then I'm a system builder, within the terms of the license as stated, and consequently it is legal to distribute the software to me. The second part of 15.1 merely states that you can't "use, run, distribute, copy, modify, display, repackage, or reassemble any individual software licenses or hardware units, or any part of them..." except as granted by this license; a license which, as my own system builder, I would have every intention of complying with. No problem there, then.


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    Re: Windows OEM versions - what Microsoft told me

    Better to offer OEM licences to the ethusiast crowd - keeps them happy (i got a bargain), keeps them away from pirate copies (and thus means they paid something) and so everyone's happy. Nothing's changed in reality - Vista is a doddle to pirate and hence endless tales of folk getting re-activation even when stepping outside the bounds of their OEM licence. MS are far more interested in those who re-sell the pirated product, or use it within the sphere of business (after all it's worth a lot more cash).
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    mutantbass head Lee @ SCAN's Avatar
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    Re: Windows OEM versions - what Microsoft told me

    Quote Originally Posted by charleski View Post
    'Misinformed'? Only where he talked about registered system builders. Otherwise, I don't think so.
    Sign In

    Register as a system builder using the above link

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    Senior Member charleski's Avatar
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    Re: Windows OEM versions - what Microsoft told me

    Quote Originally Posted by nichomach View Post
    The second part of 15.1 merely states that you can't "use, run, distribute, copy, modify, display, repackage, or reassemble any individual software licenses or hardware units, or any part of them..." except as granted by this license; a license which, as my own system builder, I would have every intention of complying with. No problem there, then.
    Using the software is only mentioned in section 15.1, where it says you can't use it. The licence merely grants limited distribution rights, and I really don't think the whole idea of distributing to oneself would get very far if the courts ever took a look at it.

    Quote Originally Posted by dangel View Post
    Better to offer OEM licences to the ethusiast crowd - keeps them happy
    The problem is they can't. OEM licences cost a lot less because they come without support. Legally, MS is obliged to provide support for anything they sell as retail product, even though the support is worthless and no enthusiast would dream of wasting time using MS phone support. At the same time, as evidenced by the blog post I linked, MS wants to keep genuine systems builders happy by restricting end-users.

    The fact is that PC enthusiasts make up a miniscule part of the PC world, and it's not worth the hassle for MS to accommodate us. There's no point pretending that we aren't just slipping through a loophole. In effect there are no real problems with activation so it doesn't really matter, and if pressed you can always say you bought the machine from a local independent.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lee @ SCAN View Post
    Sign In

    Register as a system builder using the above link
    Strange, I don't see a box asking for my MS System Builder login here.

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    Will work for beer... nichomach's Avatar
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    Re: Windows OEM versions - what Microsoft told me

    Quote Originally Posted by charleski View Post
    Using the software is only mentioned in section 15.1, where it says you can't use it.
    It says nothing of the kind; s15.1 states that you can't use it outside of the usage rights granted by the license.
    Quote Originally Posted by charleski View Post
    The problem is they can't. OEM licences cost a lot less because they come without support. Legally, MS is obliged to provide support for anything they sell as retail product, even though the support is worthless and no enthusiast would dream of wasting time using MS phone support. At the same time, as evidenced by the blog post I linked, MS wants to keep genuine systems builders happy by restricting end-users.
    They're not selling this as retail product; they're selling it to system builders, and the system builder assumes responsibility for supporting the end user. In this case, I as putative system builder am assuming responsibility for supporting myself.
    Quote Originally Posted by charleski View Post
    Strange, I don't see a box asking for my MS System Builder login here.
    Because there isn't a requirement for one to comply with the system builder license.

    Look, you're applying an interpretation to what the license says that is in line with what Microsoft would like. Fine, no problem, that's your interpretation and your opinion. The text that's there is capable of supporting other interpretations, however.


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