It all depends. OEM doesn't require a previous licensed copy of Windows. You get a license with the OEM. However, you get NO support from Microsoft. Also, you only get the 32-bit or 64-bit copy of Windows 7, so you have to decide at the time of purchase which one you want.
Also, once you activate the OEM copy, it is tied directly to your motherboard. Therefore, as per the license, you are NOT allowed to transfer it to another computer, even if you replace your motherboard. If you attempt to install it on another computer or replace your motherboard, you will have to activate the copy. However, it will error out saying that the copy of Windows is already activated on another computer and cannot be activated on this computer. You can attempt to call into Microsoft and see if they'll reactivate it for you, but that is a violation of the license agreement.
With the retail upgrade, you get BOTH 32-bit and 64-bit copies of Windows. The key is NOT tied to just one installation like the OEM version is. In other words, you can install it on one computer, activate it and then if you have to change the motherboard or you get a completely new system, you can install it and activate it. It will say that the computer configuration has changed so you'll need to call into Microsoft and get a new activation code. It's automated and takes about 5-10 minutes, but you generally never have to talk to someone to get it activated. This is NOT a violation of the license at all. You are allowed to switch it to another computer. You just can't run it on two different computers. This includes installing the 32-bit version on one and the 64-bit version on another computer. The same key is used for the 32-bit and 64-bit version. You just have to decide which one you're going to use.
Now, the kicker with the upgrade version is, you MUST have a previous copy of Windows Vista or XP that has a valid, activated key. Also, Windows 7 upgrade "requires" that you already have the previous copy installed and activated on the computer you wish to install the Windows 7 upgrade on. However, you can get around this and do a clean install of the Upgrade version. Some feel this a violation of the license agreement, especially because it allows someone to purchase the Upgrade copy and install it, even if they DON'T have a previous copy of Windows. Just search for how to do a clean install of Windows 7 upgrade.
That's pretty much verbatim of what I've already been reading on several dozen sites this morning so I already know all that. What I'm trying to decide is which version would be best to go with - an upgrade, or an OEM.
The version of WinXP Home I now have installed on my PC is an OEM. So I was also wondering if that would conflict in any way with the "upgrade" version of Win7.
I'm currently leaning more toward the Win7 OEM, but then I'm still on the fence about it.
You have to decide which one you want. Upgrading to OEM from an OEM is fine. You can also upgrade from OEM to retail.
The OEM is cheaper, but if you ever plan on upgrading your motherboard or your entire system, there is the chance that you won't be able to reactivate it. Some have had no problems doing it, other's have had Microsoft tell them no, since it's an OEM version.
I did OEM with XP and Vista and with Windows 7, I decided to just go with the Retail. Less hassles, I get support if I need it, and I can transfer the license to another computer. In fact, I had to do that when I upgraded my system. My motherboard, CPU and memory had to be upgraded. Under an OEM version, I would have had to talk with MS directly and I may or may not have been able to get it activated. With the retail upgrade (which I pre-ordered on Amazon.com to get it at 50% off), I was able to do it over the phone with their automated service. Never had to talk with a human being or explain why my system changed so much.
Again, it just depends. Do you want to pay the cheapest price? Get the OEM, but you won't have support and you may or may not be able to reactive it if you replaced your motherboard or overhaul your entire system. Also, you have to decide whether you want the 32-bit or 64-bit version. You don't get both. If you want both, then you will have to pay for both copies. At that point, you might as well get the retail upgrade version because it will definitely be cheaper.
If you want to pay little more, you can get the retail version. You get support, both 32 and 64-bit copies and you can upgrade your motherboard or system as the license is transferable from computer to computer.
If you don't foresee yourself ever upgrading the computer for a long time (especially by the time Windows 8 comes out) and you KNOW you want either the 32-bit or 64-bit version, then go with the OEM.
If you think you'll be upgrading your motherboard sometime in the future or you might change your mind on whether you're running 32-bit or 64-bit Windows, then pay the extra money and get the Upgrade retail version.
Thank you for your informative replies. I appreciate it. I've been researching this for a couple days now. Last night I even installed and ran the Win7 Upgrade Advisor and it appears my whole system passed (at least what components it listed).
I didn't want to fork out almost two hundred bucks for a new OS so I was trying to figure out if the Upgrade or OEM would be better. I already know I want the 64-bit version, but I'm still undecided on the actual "version" I should get. However I have found Win7 Home Premium Full for $160 on Buy.com: http://www.buy.com/prod/windows-7-home-premium-full/q/l...
That is the full version with 32-bit and 64-bit, right?
Yup, that's what it appears to be. But, since you already have a licensed version of XP, why not get the upgrade unless you plan on continuing to use XP? At newegg, the home version of the Upgrade version of Windows Home is $110. You still get both the 32-bit and 64-bit. Unless you just didn't want to have to hassle with the clean install steps for the upgrade edition (which really aren't that bad).
Well I went to a local store and bought Win7 Home Premium Updgrade and now it's fully installed and running great - w00t! Install was a snap. I can't believe how much faster Win7 installed itself as compared to my old XP. I did the custom (full) install now I'm just installing some of my programs (Photoshop, Thunderbird, etc.).
The speed is phenomenal. Can't wait to see how this OS enhances my CPU and graphics.
I've changed motherboards with an activated OEM Windows Vista and did not have to contact Microsoft. In fact, I've done it a few times so it may not be that strict but perhaps I was lucky here in the UK.
If you can get a copy of the Win 7 Trial you can upgrade from this and still have a valid copy of Win XP.