Q. What are the different ways in which Microsoft OEM system builder Windows desktop operating system licenses can be distributed?
A. The current OEM System Builder License allows system builders to distribute Windows desktop operating system licenses in the following ways:
- Preinstalled on a new PC.
- Unopened OEM System Builder Packs can be distributed to other system builders by themselves. Note that they must remain unopened so the receiving system builder can accept and be bound by the break-the-seal license agreement that is affixed to the pack.
Q. Can I provide a computer system to my customer without an operating system (also referred to as a "naked PC")?
A. Yes. There is nothing illegal about selling a computer system without an operating system. However, getting the operating system preinstalled is your customer's most cost-effective way to acquire a genuine Windows operating system license. A customer who subsequently wants to install a Microsoft Windows desktop operating system on that naked PC will need to acquire it through the retail channel, which is a more costly option. Full Windows operating systems are not available through any Microsoft Volume Licensing program, and an OEM operating system license cannot be transferred from an "old" PC to a new one.
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?
A. No. System builders may not offer a recovery solution with removable media (such as a recovery CD) because it is prohibited by the terms of the Microsoft OEM System Builder License. A full version of the Windows operating system is provided on a hologram CD in the Microsoft System Builder Pack for each end user, and the CD must be transferred to the end user at the time of distribution. The hologram CD acts as the recovery media.
However, system builders can offer a hard disk recovery solution in addition to, but not as a replacement for, the hologram CD. Third-party software companies can also help system builders do this. Although system builders are allowed to offer a hard disk recovery solution, Microsoft is not developing new technologies or software tools at this time to offer as part of this recovery solution.
System builders are bound by the Microsoft OEM System Builder License, affixed to the side of the System Builder Pack, which is different from the direct agreements used by direct OEMs. The licensing terms for system builders and large OEMs are different because they are designed to address the specific needs of each community. The right to create recovery media is limited to OEMs with direct agreements; however, these OEMs are also bound by other contractual obligations. The OEM System Builder License is designed to make it easy for system builders to acquire and distribute genuine Microsoft software, and accordingly, its terms are different.
Q. Are system builders allowed to create a "ghost image" CD and ship it along with the system for OEM customers?
A. No. System builders may not offer a recovery solution with removable media (a recovery CD, for example)—it is prohibited by the terms of the Microsoft OEM System Builder License. A full version of the Windows operating system is provided on a CD in the Microsoft System Builder Pack for each end user, and the CD must be transferred to the end user at the time of sale. The hologram CD acts as the system builder recovery media.
Please refer to the preceding question for more information.
Q. What are the ADK and OPK and why do I have to use them?
A. System builders who distribute Windows software on a fully assembled PC must preinstall the software on the PC's hard drive using either the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (Windows ADK) or the OEM Preinstallation Kit (OPK).
Preinstallation tools ensure that customers will encounter the Windows Out-of-Box Experience (OOBE) and that they receive the opportunity to accept the Microsoft Software License Terms.
Additionally, the ADK and OPK are easy to set up and use, and will save you time versus manual installation. They enable you to add your own shortcuts and branding to the operating system, to test preinstalled PCs without interrupting the preinstallation process, and much more. For more information, visit the Understanding ADKs and OPKs page.
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 licenses, or can I use the same license 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?
A. A customer who wants Microsoft Windows installed onto two partitions of a computer system will need to obtain two OEM system builder Windows software licenses. OEM software generally does not permit simultaneous usage of a PC by two end users.
Q. Can a PC with an OEM Windows operating system have its motherboard upgraded and keep the same license? What if it was replaced because it was defective?
A. Generally, an end user can upgrade or replace all of the hardware components on a computer—except the motherboard—and still retain the license for the original Microsoft OEM operating system software. If the motherboard is upgraded or replaced for reasons other than a defect, then a new computer has been created. Microsoft OEM operating system software cannot be transferred to the new computer, and the license of new operating system software is required. If the motherboard is replaced because it is defective, you do not need to acquire a new operating system license for the PC as long as the replacement motherboard is the same make/model or the same manufacturer's replacement/equivalent, as defined by the manufacturer's warranty.
The reason for this licensing rule primarily relates to the Microsoft Software License Terms and the support of the software covered by those terms. The Microsoft Software License Terms are a set of usage rights granted to the end user by the PC manufacturer, and relate only to rights for that software as installed on that particular PC. The system builder is required to support the software on the original PC. Understanding that end users, over time, upgrade their PCs with different components, Microsoft needed to have one base component "left standing" that would still define the original PC. Since the motherboard contains the CPU and is the "heart and soul" of the PC, when the motherboard is replaced (for reasons other than defect) a new PC is essentially created. The original system builder did not manufacture this new PC, and therefore cannot be expected to support it.
Q. The new COA is shaped differently from the previous COA. How do I apply it for the best coverage?
A. The new COA is designed to adhere smoothly and securely. For optimal results, see the following recommended COA application technique:
- Begin at the "tab" at the right end of the COA. Remove the COA from the backing liner with minimal touching of the adhesive. (The back of the COA has a 17mm adhesive-free band, which is intended to prevent adhesive from surfacing through the new anti-piracy feature.)
- Attach the COA to the surface with initial pressure applied to the left side of the COA. With a sliding motion left to right across the COA, use the pad of your thumb or finger to apply firm, even pressure. In addition to ensuring even attachment of the COA to the surface, the motion across the COA from left to right will help eliminate any pillowing at the adhesive-free area.
- After initial attachment, apply pressure with the back of the hand or pad of the thumb in a sliding motion backward and forward once or twice to fully adhere the COA to the surface.
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.
A. Direct OEM licensees do receive a discount compared to buying through the system builder channel, but that discount is based on the licensee’s commitment to receive ongoing bulk shipments versus purchasing at will. Other elements of the direct licensing agreement require significant initial investment from the OEM. Furthermore, legal and technical requirements are placed on direct OEMs to protect Microsoft intellectual property, and these requirements can add other costs to the production of a PC. The primary difference between the two programs cannot be gauged merely by looking at prices and software licenses. Each program is designed to meet the specific needs of the partner.
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?
A. Yes, you may install Microsoft Office software onto the computer systems as long as you do so in compliance with the Microsoft OEM System Builder License. Please note that the preinstallation and software distribution process for Microsoft Office makes it easier to buy and sell than prior versions, with a single image to manage for all Office suites and an intuitive SKU lineup.
Q. Can two or more users access and fully use OEM Windows operating systems concurrently on the same machine?
A. No. The Microsoft Software License Terms do not permit two or more users to concurrently use the full feature sets of Windows operating systems.
However, the Windows Microsoft Software License Terms do allow for a limited number of computers or other electronic devices to connect to the computer upon which the software is installed to use one or more of the following services: File Services, Print Services, Internet Information Services, and telephony services. The Microsoft Software License Terms also permit limited concurrent use in connection with the Remote Assistance and NetMeeting technologies. Please refer to the applicable Microsoft Software License Terms for detailed information regarding such limited concurrent uses.
Q. What can system builders offer their customers as a "legalization solution" for Windows desktop operating systems?
A. Microsoft recognizes that end users sometimes acquire non-genuine Windows operating systems for their PCs and may wish to "get legal" by obtaining genuine software.
To obtain genuine Windows software, end users can do one of the following:
- Return to their reseller to resolve the issue.
- Visit the Windows Genuine Advantage website, run the validation wizard, and purchase a download of genuine Windows software.
- Acquire a retail version of genuine Windows software from a reseller.
- If eligible, acquire a Get Genuine Kit for Windows software from a reseller.
The Get Genuine Kit is available only for use on fully assembled PCs with a previously installed counterfeit, pirated, or otherwise illegal or unlicensed copy of Windows software.
How it works:
- A reseller can acquire the Get Genuine Kit from authorized Microsoft OEM distributors.
- A reseller or an end-user must affix the enclosed Certificate of Authenticity (COA) label to the PC.
- Microsoft recommends, but does not require, that on the PC, the reseller or the end-user do one of the following:
- Run the Windows Product Key Update Tool.
- Perform a reinstall of Windows software.
- Perform a clean install of Windows software.
- However, the reseller or the end-user must do one of the above in order to receive updates, upgrades, and support services.
- The Get Genuine Kit is available in single packs.
||Pack contains |
||1 COA label, 1 media, and 1 Microsoft Software License Terms |
- Microsoft supports this software.
- The license is not transferable to another PC.
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