Vista OEM Deals


OSNN Veteran Addict
Was browsing the EGG and saw Vista Business OEM "for System Builders" for $145. This is a relatively good price so I got suspicious...

Read the fine print and this version can only be liscenced (aka activated on one machine, no transfer allowed).

So if your machine breaks and a major repair that busts the activation criteria budget (new lan or MB) is required will you have to buy a new copy of Vista as well as repairing the PC?

Any of you system builder out there run into this or have more info on the exact details? Like will MS support be tolerant of manual activation requests for these OEM branded copies of Vista?

Will trying to upgrade a Dell/HP/Gateway Vista machine lead to problems now?

And has anyone heard if the activation rules stay the same with Vista as with XP?

I fear another bullet in the foot here.

American Zombie

Staff member
Political User
Might want to read through this thread (Ryan's posts later in the thread) as an OEM copy was activated on a few different machines.
Myself, I was given Ultimate OEM and have activated on two different machines as a test (not at the same time).
I believe the situation is the same as XP. Call MS and they will re-activate for you. You could call and confirm with them if you want.


Woah.. I'm still here?
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Political User
there is nothing from a technical perspective that will only allow it to be activated once (or even tie it to a specific machine). The OEM license is usually sold to an OEM for resale with that machine.. part of the EULA that the buyer agrees to states that it will only be for that one machine and will not be transferred to a different computer. They do allow you, basically, unlimited activations since there are times that one machine will need to be reloaded/restored from scratch. But, the license states that it is to stay with the one machine and not be moved to a different machine. For example, if I purchase a computer from Dell/HP/etc with an OEM license of Vista Ultimate and then go out and build my own machine from parts, I can't scrap my Dell/HP computer and legally install the OEM copy I purchased with my Dell machine of Vista Ultimate on my home built machine.

But, as I said, there is no technical limitation, it is a paper limitation that the user is supposed to abide by (in other words, it's a "please be honest" kind of policy). This is also how the Software Assurance Windows Desktop license goes. Your software assurance on the Windows OS is not a license itself.. it assumes an OEM license exists on that machine and the SA you buy is the upgrade rights of that OEM license on that machine.

Just like Vista Home is not licensed to run as a virtual machine guest. There is no technical limitation that prevents it from running (in fact, it will run just fine in VMWare), but you are breaking the license agreement that you agreed to abide by when you clicked on the "ok" button on the EULA
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Woah.. I'm still here?
Staff member
Political User
WGA? Are you referring to the Genuine Advantage crap? That's more for validating the license.. you can validate Vista (any version - OEM or retail) without any problems in WGA.


OSNN Veteran Addict
Political User
Right, but I thought that once you authenticated with WGA, you could not use that serial number on another computer.


Woah.. I'm still here?
Staff member
Political User
Right, but I thought that once you authenticated with WGA, you could not use that serial number on another computer.
There is no technical limitation that will prevent you from installing and activating a copy on a different machine - it's a paper limitation of the license only.

Now, technically, Vista "checks in" from time to time to verify it's activiation - and if you have the same license installed on multiple machines, you may raise a red flag somewhere in Microsoft. But this is the case even if you have a retail copy installed on multiple machines simultaneously which is also not allowed.

Both the OEM and retail license of Vista Home/Premium states it can only be installed on one machine at a time. The difference between an OEM copy and a retail copy is that the OEM license agreement states the license cannot be transferred to another computer. You are allowed to reload it on the same computer any number of times. A retail license you are allowed to uninstall it from one machine, and reinstall it onto a totally different computer.

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