Get OEM discounts when you upgrade your PC

By Scott Dunn

The May 24 issue continued our discussion of OEM software, explaining that any hobbyist can be a system builder and buy these products at a discount.

Additional documentation from Microsoft’s Web site makes it even more clear that you neither need to build a computer from scratch nor join the Microsoft Partner Program to qualify for the lower prices.


OEM Preinstallation Kit (OPK) not always required

The May 24 issue suggested that if you buy a single copy of the OEM version of Windows, you need to join the Microsoft Partner program to obtain a special kit to install it. But reader Sean Toner writes in with a correction:
  • "You are correct that a 1-pack Vista OEM package does not include the OPK.

    "However, according to the OEM License, the requirement to use the OPK applies ‘when you distribute an individual software license for a desktop operating system.’ But presumably the requirement does not apply to an enthusiast who installs OEM Vista on a single machine for his own use.

    "Also, I understand that a 1-pack Vista OEM DVD will install itself quite easily without requiring the use of the OPK."

What you say makes perfect sense, Sean! Thanks for pointing out this language in the OEM license agreement. There seems to be little reason for the average hobbyist who is building his or her own system to join the Microsoft Partner Program or download the OPK.

Refurbishers are also ‘system builders’

Concerning the topic of who qualifies as a "system builder" and, therefore, for an OEM discount, Chris Miller writes:
  • "Good article on Microsoft’s OEM licenses. I wonder how much of a system I would need to build before I could qualify as a ‘system builder.’ I’ve never built a system from the ground up — motherboard, CPU, disk drive, etc. — because I don’t consider this a profitable use of my time, but I’ve changed most of these components at one point or another.

    "If I wanted to upgrade my Windows XP system to Vista, I’d certainly need a new hard drive and graphics card (probably memory, too). Leaving aside the question of ‘how would they ever know?’, would such a change be sufficient to make me a ‘system builder’? Or do we need a court case to decide?"

The OEM license agreement defines a "system builder" as "an assembler, refurbisher, or pre-installer of software on computer systems." The license does not define "refurbisher," but another Microsoft document (in Acrobat PDF format) from the Microsoft Partner Program site, the Channel Discussion Guide, states that "Refurbished PCs are those PCs where the components have been changed or upgraded" (page 2).

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