*ATTN: Difference between Vista OEM and Retail License*

A lot of people here ask how OEM is different from Retail so here it goes:
Short guide but covers main differences between the two license types

OEM Vista is tied to the motherboard it is first installed on. Unlike the retail versions of Windows which can be transferred to a new computer, OEM licenses are not transferable.
Both OEM and Retail Vista is licensed on a per copy per device basis. You can install only one copy of the software on the licensed device.

How M$ will know if I've changed mobo?

- "During mandatory activation, the software will send information about the software and the device to Microsoft. This information includes the version, language and product key of the software, the Internet protocol address of the device, and information derived from the hardware configuration of the device."

Sources: Windows Vista Community, and

P.S.: please add any info that is related to the subject of the post 8)
40 answers Last reply
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  1. I read a post on another forum, Extreme Overclocking, where they specifically took an OEM version of Vista Home Premium, and installed it into a newly built computer and then activated it.

    Some short time later, I don't recall exactly how long, they installed that same copy of Vista onto another newly built computer, with completely different parts including mother board and then attempted to activate it.

    It wouldn't activate until they callled Microsoft, and told them they were reinstalling it on a new computer.

    The person at Microsoft merely asked if they had removed it from the first computer, and when told they had, activated it.

    They then waited another short period of time, and did the same thing again into another newly built computer. Again, after talking to a Microsoft rep, they were allowed to activate the OS again.

    So...., at least for now, it appears that Microsoft is not taking too hard a line on reactivating OEM versions.

    I suspect this might be due to the relatively slow adaption of Vista, but it would only make sense not to try and piss off your early buyers too badly if you want them to buy your new products.
  2. yes, i've heard people getting away with this :lol:
  3. Yeah I read that a few days ago.
  4. And it will stay that way.

    Its so one license won't be used as a mass license key. All those other machines will no longer be able to get updated via Microsoft.
  5. here's a little info on volume activation (more info can be found on win. vista support site, but just to outline the basic idea i'm posting here):

    Multiple Activation Key
    MAK activation uses a technology similar to that in use with MSDN Universal and Microsoft Action Pack subscriptions. Each product key can activate a specific number of computers. If the use of volume-licensed media is not controlled, excessive activations result in depletion of the activation pool. MAKs are activation keys. They are not used to install Windows but rather to activate it after installation. You can use them to activate any volume edition of Windows Vista.

    A MAK is used to activate each system under MAK management. Activation can be performed over the Internet or by telephone. As each computer contacts Microsoft’s activation servers, the activation pool is reduced. You can check the number of remaining activations from the Microsoft Licensing Web sites and request additional activations by contacting the Microsoft Activation Call Center.

    There are two ways to activate computers using MAK:

    MAK Proxy Activation: Is a solution that enables a centralized activation request on behalf of multiple desktops with one connection to Microsoft. MAK Proxy Activation will be available in the solution code name Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT) which is currently under development with expected availability in 2007.

    MAK Independent Activation: Requires that each desktop independently connects and activates against Microsoft.

    Advantages of MAK activation include the ability to automate key assignment and activation and no requirement to periodically renew activation. Additional requirements include the need to request more activations when the number of activations passes the predetermined limit, the need to manage the installation of MAKs (automated by Business Desktop Deployment (BDD) 2007), the requirement for reactivation when significant hardware changes occur, and the potential need to manually activate systems using a telephone when no Internet connection is available.

    Key Management Service (KMS) Key
    Key Management Service (KMS) enables organizations to perform local activations for computers in a managed environment without connecting to Microsoft individually. A KMS Key is used to enable the Key Management Service on a machine controlled by an organization’s system administrator. KMS usage is targeted for managed environments where more than 25 computers are consistently connected to the organization’s network. Computers running Windows Vista activate by connecting to a central Windows Vista computer running the KMS service.

    After initializing KMS, the KMS activation infrastructure is self-maintaining. Users can install a KMS key and enable the KMS service on Windows Vista systems. The KMS service can easily be co-hosted with other services, and it does not require any additional software for downloading or installing. Windows Server 2003 KMS service for Volume Activation 2.0 is currently under development with expected availability in 2007. A single KMS host can support hundreds of thousands of KMS clients. It is expected that most organizations will be able to operate with just two KMS hosts for their entire infrastructure (one main KMS host and one backup host for redundancy).

    A KMS host must have at least 25 physical Windows Vista clients connected to it before any of them will activate. Systems operating in virtual machine (VM) environments can also be activated using KMS, but they do not contribute to the system count.

    Clients must renew their activation by connecting to the KMS Host at least once every 180 days. Clients not yet activated will attempt to connect with the KMS host every two hours (value configurable). Once activated, they will attempt to connect to the KMS host every seven days (value configurable) and if successful will renew their 180-day activation life span. Clients locate the KMS host using one of the two methods:

    • Auto-Discovery, in which a KMS client uses domain name service records to automatically locate a local KMS host.

    • Direct connection, where a system administrator specifies the KMS host location and communication port.

    Clients have a 30-day grace period to complete activation. Clients not activated within this time period will go into Reduced Functionality Mode (RFM).

    As mentioned above, KMS clients activated with KMS periodically try to renew their activation. If they are unable to connect to a KMS host for more than 180 days, they enter a 30-day grace period, after which they enter RFM until a connection can be made with a KMS host, or until a MAK is installed and the system is activated online or via telephone. This feature prevents computers that have been removed from the organization from functioning indefinitely without adequate license coverage.
  6. Can I transfer Vista from one HD to another in the same build? I am planning on doing so but don't want to make the call...
  7. if by "transfer Vista" you mean license than yes you can, meaning that if you got oem you don't have to call
  8. Can I transfer Vista from one HD to another in the same build? I am planning on doing so but don't want to make the call...
  9. nice double post :)
  10. srry don't know how that happened :) Yeah just license- I am dual booting xp and vista right now on 2 hds and wondered if I can upgrade the xp drive to vista and clear the vista drive. Kind of confusing :D
  11. and you have oem correct?
  12. Quote:
    and you have oem correct?
    yah, express upgrade version
  13. you should be able to activate it online because your mobo is the same, if it's your 5th activation than you'll have to call but m$ has to activate it without boring you with "stupid questions".
  14. Quote:
    you should be able to activate it online because your mobo is the same, if it's your 5th activation than you'll have to call but m$ has to activate it without boring you with "stupid questions".

    Sounds good to me! Thanks :D
  15. no problem
  16. Does this apply to Retail versions of Vista Upgrades? If that makes any sense...
  17. Look on the discs you received, and if one of them has the "Windows Anytime Upgrade" logo on it, have that disc handy when you upgrade. If you didn't get an upgrade disc, you can request one when you purchase the Windows Vista upgrade license (ex. in your case from home pr to ultimate).
  18. One thing i forgot to mention, If you got an "upgrade" vista and you use vista anytime upgrade to upgrade to let's say ultimate you'll still have "upgrade" vista license. (if that makes any sense :lol: )
  19. Upgradeable "retail" versions are transferrable, right?
  20. i think so, yes
  21. - "During mandatory activation, the software will send information about the software and the device to Microsoft. This information includes the version, language and product key of the software, the Internet protocol address of the device, and information derived from the hardware configuration of the device"

    Does other software do this too? Office for example?

    So, if I bought a computer from a no-name computer shop and it came with software (M$ Office CD's, etc), is there a chance I won't be able to install it on my new computer?
  22. no, that's the activation of vista.

    for ms office there is a much simpler validation procedure, in another words, if you have a legal copy of office activating it shouldn't be a problem. gl
  23. So if I want to upgrade my core components and then reinstall with my upgrade copy of vista (using the double install method) will I have to call MS or anything for it to activate? or only with the OEMS?
  24. Is it better to buy a new vista OS, or the upgrade pack? I remember that the ME upgrade for 98 was absolutely horrible. Is it similar with Vista? (the reason why I ask is that I can get vista ultimate, upgrade version, for $150 through my school, but I don't like the idea of upgrading I want a full OS pack you know?)
  25. clean install, with formating, is always prefered. I would suggest that you get a full version.
  26. Hello Assman
    I bought a Vista OEM 3 Pack intending to build three new PCs.
    What I received was just one disc and just one self adhesive "Certificate of Authenticity".
    The latter is to be affixed to the new tower.
    Whereas I can understand having just one dic, surely there should have been three labels?
    Your help would be much appreciated.
    Thanks in anticipation
  27. Double-check with the vendor where you purchased the software. Did the box still have it's original seal intact? Does it say anywhere on the box or on any of the literature inside the box anything about it being an OEM 3-pack? Most OEM 3-packs in the past have indeed come with three discs, three OEM booklets and three product license stickers.
  28. Thankyou Zoron. You have confirmed my instincts and I can now get back to my supplier.
    Best regards
  29. Just a little note, Zoron, I spotted the "more information" link and found the following:

    More Information
    Age : 36 years
    Gender : Male
    posts : 4001
    Joined : Tue Jan 01, 1970

    Now, I haven't got a BSc in arithmetic but ............
  30. Yeah, that's a bug with the site... I joined Tomshardware back in 2001... long before this screwed up new format took over. I think new members are ok... but for anyone that joined before the switch, their join dates are messed up.
  31. Yep, that's how it works (or doesn't).
  32. so let me get this strait, if i get a OEM Vista and install it on a computer, then after a while i get a new computer and i want to install the same OEM Vista on the new computer, i have to call Microsoft to activate?

    as for retail, i can use the same license key to as many computers without calling Microsoft as long as im using that key on 1 computer and removing from the previous one.

    is this correct?
  33. Yes, that's correct. OEM copies are tied to the computer they are installed upon, and they must remain with that computer. Of course, hardware failure is a valid reason to require reactivation.
  34. I've got a question regarding the transfer of license to another computer (Vista Retail).

    What does it mean by "uninstalling" Vista on the first computer before transferring the license on a new computer - is formatting the HDD considered an "uninstall", or is there a procedure on uninstalling Vista from the machine?

    "Responding to the myriad complaints over ambiguities and outright uncool (that's a technical term) licensing terms, Microsoft has revised the Windows Vista retail license to remove some of the most major causes of complaint. A Microsoft spokesperson told Ars Technica that the changes do indeed come in response to concerns from the PC enthusiast community.

    "We heard that users wanted more flexibility, and this change should give hardware enthusiasts in particular more latitude to upgrade their PCs or reassign their license to a new PC, while still making clear our intentions to protect our software from piracy," the spokesperson said.

    A previous version of the Windows Vista retail license restricted the number of times you may transfer Vista from one device to another. The license read: "The first user of the software may reassign the license to another device one time. If you reassign the license, that other device becomes the 'licensed device.'"

    The new license has removed this language relating to device transfers, and now reads: "You may install one copy of the software on the licensed device. You may use the software on up to two processors on that device at one time. Except as provided in the Storage and Network Use (Ultimate edition) sections below, you may not use the software on any other device."

    Furthermore, Microsoft has clarified the licenses with regards to re-installation. "You may uninstall the software and install it on another device for your use. You may not do so to share this license between devices," the license reads.

    Additionally, Microsoft clarified transfer rights to other users. You can transfer your license of Windows Vista to another user provided that you uninstall the original copy and do not keep any of the materials from the original installation."
  35. Well since you can't technically "uninstall" your OS, then formatting the hard drive or wiping it is your only option. How you get it off isn't important... all that is important is that it's gone.
  36. so if i have a OEM cd key, and i want to uninstall my OEM from my computer and reinstall it again and again, do i need to call microsoft to do that or it will be activated as long as it stays on that computer.
  37. I think you can reinstall up to 5 times within a certain time period before it will require reactivation.
  38. no shyt, do you know how long is that period?
  39. Three months I believe... but I could be mistaken.
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