What is OEM software and can i buy it?

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What is OEM software?

It stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. In terms of Windows it refers to cheaper versions of its products with simple packaging, and reduced support.

Can i buy it?

The software is made available to 'system builders' and by Microsoft definition it is an "original equipment manufacturer, an assembler, refurbisher, or pre-installer of software on computer systems."

Most users of OEM software on eBay fall under the last category of those that install software.

"Local OEM software packs are intended for PC and server manufacturers or assemblers ONLY. They are not intended for distribution to end users unless the end users are acting as local OEMs by assembling their own PC. " http://oem.microsoft.com/downloads/mosb_productguide/licensing/packaging.htm

This software is not intended for end users, the 'Joe Newbie' who does not know how to install software and needs the support the retail version provides.

Microsoft says that people who purchase OEM software will simply be expected to abide by the terms of the licensing agreements.

So why is it so cheap?

Whenever you buy OEM you need to understand what you are getting. Microsoft OEM software don't come with pretty boxes, bundled trial software or printed materials like retail. However if you are interested in OEM software chances are you are not in need of what passes for a manual these days. And the pretty box... well, that's not really worth much anyway, is it? Rest assured, though; the software on the disc is the same as that found in any retail edition.

OEM software can't be returned once opened. So if you bought it and need to return it, don't open it.

Also the software is tied to the motherboard it is first installed on. While retail versions can be transfered from computer to computer, OEM versions are non-transferable. You can upgrade any other hardware you like but must keep the same motherboard.

While some retail versions (eg Vista) come with both the 32 bit and the 64 bit versions, OEM versions are specific.

Lastly there's support. As a system builder purchasing OEM you are your own support. Whenever the end user has a question they will come to you. Retail versions normally come with 30-90 days free support. There is also a paid support option from Microsoft if you need it but it is quite dear.


Should you go OEM? Well it's up to you. If you agree to the license and the limitations then make the most of this opportunity and save yourself a bundle and your clients and wallet will thankyou for it. So if you want to get the cheaper price, you accept responsibility for supporting the system you built.

Help make eBay a safer place where everyone understands what they are buying. Please click YES below. It is completely anonymous and takes 0.016 seconds of your time. The more votes, the more eBay users will see it. Thanks for your time, we wish you all the best with your OEM or Retail Windows purchases.

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Just a quick mention that the column on the right hand side under the title 'Items from eBay Sellers' are NOT my items, just ones that eBay thinks as relevant. Most likely they are advertising Open Office. Don't fall for the trick! Open Office is not they same as Microsoft Office, and furthermore you can get the latest version for free at openoffice.org. It's a shame that those sellers don't mention that important fact.

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