Buying an OEM version of Windows XP

Can it be installed on more than one computer? Whats the real difference between OEM and retail version? Can repair installation be done with OEM? Is there any serious disadvantage of getting OEM?

Hi and be welcome aboard!

From a technical point of view, there’s no difference between a fully installable OEM version and the standard retail version of XP. There is a major difference between the licences though. Retail versions can be bought whenever you like. Standard retails can only be installed on 1 system (you can install it on many many more, but that is illegal). The OEM version can only be sold with new hardware. There’s a small trick some companies pull. As nowhere is defined what “new hardware” should be sold in order to make OEM version legal, some resellers sell very cheap mice (€5) along with an OEM version of XP with it (not included in that €5 ;)). This way, they make the OEM version legal.

The shops I have used say that the hardware has to be internal, ie memory, drives, etc, they won’t sell it with a peripheral.

As with the standard version it can only be installled, legally, on one machine at a time.

I think Microsoft does allow some flexibility with how many computers you can activate your copy of Windows on. Give them a call when activation fails and they’re usually quite understanding.

Thanks a lot guys, that was really helpful. :slight_smile:

I have been told by the activation department that a normal retail copy can only be used on one computer. the oem version doesn’t come with tech support from microsoft either. Make sure it is a normal boxed retail oem package. If it is a disk designed for one of the computer manufactures like dell and such, it may be cheaper but it may not be a full functioning version (I have an oem copy of xp that is just a self installing ghost image).

This is the main difference between OEM and retail.
For OEM software your tech support must come from the reseller, Microsoft will not provide tech support.

My computer came with Windows XP Home OEM.

I reformatted the computer once, and installed 512MB of additional memory another time. After installing the new memory, Windows wanted me to type my key again. Then it insisted that I was suddenly using a different system and that my key had been used the maximum number of times, and that I would have to call tech support.

So after 15 minutes on the phone with some indian guy who sounded really bored with his job - and entering a new 37-digit key, I was back in action.

Next time I have to format my computer, I hope I have the money to just get WinXP pro (retail).

Before a new (or re-) install, it’s allways a good idea to backup your wpa.dbl file on a floppy or such, and have it ready to copy in the new installed os, to bypass activation hassle.
PS: the 13-02-06 Langalist Plus Newsletter has a detailed description of OEM vs Retail situation (

Is there anywhere I can find a guide on backing up/reinstalling this file? Do I just search for it, then back it up and replace it if I reinstall?

The problem you described will not be different with the retail version. Where you change certain hardware, Windows will need to be reactivated. A few times you can do this online, but after that you must call in and explain why you need another reactivation. If you can convince them your request is legitimate, you should have no problem…


Keep it legal here!

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The DBL file will only work on the same system it was gotten from and only If you made no changes. If you make enough changes that require a re activate you will still need to do it. It’s a painless process. The biggest thing is typing in all the numbers. The DBL file will not let you add another system. Seems fair enough to me. The DBL file is not a hack. Figures somebody has to zoom in on this as a free ride to put XP on more then one system :iagree:

Microsoft is not that stupid nor are the computers that keep track of these things:disagree:

The online activate has a time frame. It’s resets itself then you can do it all without talking to india. They keep close track of these things

There are two types of programs you want to be straight with. Your OS and your antivirus. Everything else is fair game.

Never had a problem they have been happy to activate it over the phone each time I have re-formatted and installed XP. It’s a free call so if it is a legit copy where’s the problem?

I was actually thinking about in the same system (possibly a hard drive change but everything else the same). I have had to activate enough times from changing hardware around, I have to sit there and go through the automated process on the phone and then get rejected and have to go to a live person (so they can ask why I am reactivating again) every single time. Recentlly I am moving a lot of data around trying to clean up a lot of the crap on my computers. So far I havent got a program that can clone a drive that is raid compatible (I have some programs in mind but havent bought anything yet). Till I get something that is raid compatible, it would be handy to be able to do that.

So I just find that file on an old install, and use it to replace the file on a new install (on the same system), right?

Yep :iagree:

thanks for the info. :smiley:

ok now go to bed :iagree: :bigsmile:

it’s 2 am and i just got up for the day uggggggggg :eek:

COFFEE :bow: