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 Licensing FAQ

Please see the categories below for answers to commonly asked questions regarding OEM System Builder licensing.

Ensuring Genuine Microsoft Software

Q. What is validation and when do I need to do it?
Q. What is a Certificate of Authenticity (COA) label?
Q. What are the End User Software Licence Terms?
Q. What are the different ways that my customers can get legal licences for Windows desktop operating systems? What about software applications such as Microsoft Office 2010?
Q. I get many email solicitations offering "Microsoft software at cheap prices." Is this software legal?
Q. I see products like Windows 7 Professional – COA only – advertised for sale. Is this legal?

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System Builder licensing

Q. What are the different ways in which Microsoft OEM System Builder Windows desktop operating system licences can be distributed?
Q. Can I provide a computer system to my customer without an operating system (also referred to as a "naked PC")?
Q. Can I create my own recovery disks and sell these with the computer systems that I build? I have heard that direct OEMs can do this, so why can't I?
Q. Are system builders allowed to create a "ghost image" CD and ship it along with the system for OEM customers?
Q. What are the ADK and OPK and why do I have to use them?
Q. We would like to create a computer system using an OEM Windows operating system that has a dual-boot feature. The single system would use the same version of Windows on both boot images/partitions.

Does this require two different licences, or can I use the same licence and product key for both images/partitions, since they are both on a single system that can use only one operating system at a time?
Q. Can a PC with an OEM Windows operating system have its motherboard upgraded and keep the same licence? What if it was replaced because it was defective?
Q. The new COA is shaped differently from the previous COA. How do I apply it for the best coverage?
Q. How does a company qualify to become a direct Microsoft OEM? It seems that the larger companies currently have an unfair advantage compared with smaller OEMs.
Q. I am a reseller of PCs that come preloaded with OEM Windows operating systems. Am I allowed to load Microsoft Office onto these machines?
Q. Can two or more users access and fully utilize OEM Windows operating systems concurrently on the same machine?
Q. What can system builders offer their customers as a "legalisation solution" for Windows desktop operating systems?

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Personal Use Licence

Q. What is the Personal Use Licence?
Q. Can I use the Personal Use Licence for Windows 7 software?
Q. I am not a system builder, but I am building my own computer for personal use. Can I purchase OEM System Builder software?
Q. What happens if I build a computer with a Personal Use Licence, then later decide to sell it?
Q. Where can I get more information on the Personal Use Licence?

Transfer of licence

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

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Microsoft on pre-installation and software returns

Q. When selling a PC to my customers, should it be preinstalled with a Microsoft operating system, and if so, must they use the Microsoft operating system purchased with the PC?

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Refurbished/used computers

Q. What is the difference between a refurbished PC and a used PC?
Q. Can I sell second-hand computer systems with the original Microsoft software, or will a new licence be required before selling?
Q. If my customer asks me to upgrade a PC with new hardware components, when is a new operating system needed? When would the PC be considered "new"?
Q. Can a system builder install Microsoft OEM software on a refurbished computer system, which may include branded PCs (e.g., Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, etc.)?
Q. If I need to reinstall the operating system on a machine from a direct OEM (e.g. Dell) that my customer has brought in. How should I do this?

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Downgrade rights

Q. What are downgrade rights and how would my customer benefit from them?
Q. Where can I find out more about downgrade rights?
Q. Who can install the downgrade software or reinstall the original software?
Q. Where do end users get the CD/media to install the downgrade software?
Q. Can end users use both the latest version and the downgrade software at the same time?
Q. Can end users return to Windows or Windows Server software after they downgrade?
Q. How do end users reinstall the original software after downgrading?
Q. Does Microsoft Office contain downgrade rights to a previous version?

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Q. What is product activation?
Q. Which customers and products are required to activate?
Q. How does Microsoft product activation work?
Q. What do I do if a customer returns a computer system that I sold, but the customer has activated the OEM System Builder Windows software?

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Volume Licensing

Q. Where do I get more information on Microsoft Volume Licensing programmes?
Q. What is Software Assurance (SA)?
Q. Do I need to register as a Volume Licensing reseller to offer Software Assurance to my customers?
Q. I don't currently offer volume licences. How do I become registered to offer Open Licence Business, Open Licence Volume or Open Licence Value?
Q. My customer wants to purchase a "naked" PC from me and acquire the Windows licence through a Volume Licensing agreement. Is this OK?
Q. If a school enters into a Microsoft Academic Volume Licensing Agreement (Campus, School, Open, Select), does that mean it is licensed for a full Microsoft operating system, such as Windows?
Q. If a school has an Academic Volume Licensing agreement, such as Campus, that currently covers a Windows upgrade, does it still need a licence that covers the full Windows operating system as well?
Q. If a school has an Academic Volume Licensing agreement and purchases a new computer, is it legal for the school to purchase a "naked" computer and use its Academic Volume Licence to install the full operating system?

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