There are multiple liscence versions of VISTA available:
-True OEM that Dell, HP, etc get.
-Corporate versions that the major corporations get.
-Store bought OEM which is more a hobbyist builder version than a true OEM.
-Full retail version.
-Third world versions.
They each have widely varying liscence conditions that include how many times they can be moved to a new machine (as defined by MS and their activation code). You will have to identify and read the EULA for the particular version you are buying. Warning the "System Builder" OEM versions off the shelf are very restricted compared to the "Retail Version". I got bored one day and read all the EULAs I could find There is a thread around somewhere where I talked about the differences.
Basically, buy Ultimate if you are building a new desktop and you can do anything you want including installing XP Pro, 32/64, etc. under that liscence. If you are doing a laptop OS downgrade to VISTA buy the system builder version to save money.
PS My new laptop came pre-activated and with an upgrade disk that will require a new liscence and a recovery disk that uses the existing liscence.
Think you missed the whole point of this thread.
Question was - do OEM products need to be activated.
I 'was' thinking of getting vista for my desktop if the oem version does not require activation because I swap my HDDs around too often which triggers windows to prompt for re-activation.
There is only one OEM product. Everyone gets it if they buy OEM, Dell, HP, Me, you.
I recommend actually knowing stuff before you post. As a registered system builder I occasionally get offered the kit that Dell has to set an OEM install to pre-activated state or to have the system ask to be activated on the next boot.
Since I only build machines for me I don't need it.
My point was that OEM products have significantlly limited re-activation rights compared to retail versions. I wanted to make sure you understood that since all VISTA product requires activation and you wanted to move drives around. When and if MS decides to start enforcing the portability restrictions in the various EULAs you can find yourself with useless copies of OEM VISTA.