Home | MS-MVP | OE Newsreader | Move XP | Restore | Format XP | Clean Install
XP Repair Install | F.A.S.T. | Access BIOS |Upgrade Issues | ViewKeyXP
Spell Check | XP FAQ |Computer Links | WinLinks | SW&Tools | Share Ware 
MotorSports | Online Mags | FTP Links | Donate | Contact

XP OEM Clarification

Updated 05/06/2006



    OEM Microsoft Windows (including XP Pro and XP Home) Licensing Changes You Need To Know About!

    Link to Blog for the Microsoft Small Business Channel Community explaining the OEM licensing changes. No password is needed to access this blog.

  •  The information below is supplied for informational purposes only, it is not definitive confirmation of the legality of the EULA and should be used as a guideline for what Microsoft defines as a new computer. Use this information for plotting your upgrade strategy for OEM EULA compliance when activating.

The OEM licensing changes makes the below information obsolete as far as purchasing OEM software, but the information is still relevant pertaining to OEM versions obtained before the license change and OEM media supplied by system builders.

 The End User License Agreement (EULA) for OEM software, including Windows XP, states that the software is licensed as a single integrated product in connection with the hardware.  However, it's important to remember that the end user cannot see nor accept the electronic EULA until the software is installed on a fully-assembled computer system.  So, even though the original OEM software unit may have been distributed with a component, like a hard drive, it isn't until the software is installed on a fully-assembled computer system that it becomes "married" to the hardware.

 In general, OEM software may not be transferred from one system to another system.  However, the computer system can certainly be updated with new components without the requirement of a new software license.  The only exception to this is the motherboard 1.  If the motherboard is replaced 2, the computer system is deemed "new" and a new license would be required. Other PC components may be upgraded, including a hard drive. Though if the hard drive 3 is replaced/upgraded, the operating system must first be removed from the old hard drive. To restate: the operating system is "married" to the computer system on which it is originally installed.
 If you haven't already, please take a moment to review a comprehensive group of OEM Licensing Questions and Answers which are specific to system builders:

The link above is for registered OEM builders.
 Thank you,
 The Microsoft OEM System Builder Licensing Team

The above post was copied from a post from kurttrail posted to the msnews.microsoft.com newsgroups and is supplied as is.

Another reply from The Microsoft OEM System Builder Licensing Team posted below from an inquiry initiated by myself says essentially the same.

Reply from The Microsoft OEM System Builder Licensing Team to a query I posted 9/11/04 and was answered 9/20/04

Subject:  OEM XP and upgrading/replacement mother boards
  From:  "System Builder Licensing" <anonymous@discussions.microsoft.com> Sent:  9/20/2004 5:58:48 AM

Thank you for your post, Michael. Generally, you may upgrade or replace all of the hardware components on your customer's computer and the customer may maintain the license for the original Microsoft OEM operating system software, with the exception of an upgrade or replacement of the motherboard. Unless upgraded or replaced under warranty, if the motherboard is upgraded, then a new computer has been created and the license of new operating system software is required. The original Microsoft OEM operating system software cannot be transferred to another computer. Please visit https://oem.microsoft.com/script/contentpage.aspx?PageID=552862

		for more information regarding used and refurbished 
		computers. There is no difference between pre installed OEM operating system 
		software and OEM operating system software acquired after the purchase of 
		a PC.  Regardless, the OEM operating system must remain with the device 
		that retains the motherboard.   To activate Windows XP over the 
		telephone, you can simply call a toll-free number displayed on your screen. 
		A customer service representative will ask for the installation ID number 
		displayed on the same screen, enter that number into a secure database, 
		and return a confirmation ID to you. Once you have typed the confirmation 
		ID, the activation process is complete. We hope this information has been 
		helpful.  Please take a moment to review a comprehensive group of OEM 
		Licensing Questions and Answers which are specific to you as a system builder 
		https://oem.microsoft.com/script/contentpage.aspx?pageid=514341. Thank 
		you, The Microsoft OEM System Builder Licensing Team

 >-----Original Message-----

>I would like to know the Microsoft policy on

>upgrading/replacement of mother boards on systems that

>were installed with OEM versions of XP. Can a computer

>with OEM XP replace or upgrade the mother board? Is there

>a difference if it is a direct replacement of a defective

>MB from a pre installed OEM or a OEM + non peripheral

>computer hardware?

>What is the activation policy when a phone call is



>Michael Stevens

		You will need to register with your passport 
		to access the above links. 

New OEM restrictions initially affecting the top 20 Direct multinational OEM's.

As of February 28th 2005, all COA keys affixed to the computer case will have internet activation disabled. A mandatory phone call will be prompted to receive an override key after answering a series of questions which manually verify them as legitimate.
>>More >>>And More

This does not affect unbranded OEM versions purchased with authorized hardware through legitimate vendors. Branded OEM versions [I.E. Dell, HP, Gateway, etc..] purchased from eBay and other similar vendors will be affected and may lose the ability to activate the questionable copies.

The notes below are my own opinion based on information I obtained from the OEM System Builders web site and not those of Microsoft.

1. If prompted for a phone call activation after upgrading to a non OEM motherboard on an OEM system, a new activation code would likely be denied, but  feedback from newsgroup posts seem to show the activation on a MB swap is routinely granted a new activation code. Please read notes #2 and #3 for further understanding of OEM activation.

2. If the motherboard is a factory replacement for a defective Motherboard, you can speed up the phone call activation process and avoid confusion by stating [if asked] you made upgrades in compliance with the OEM EULA.  As stated above, I would considered the replacement of a defective OEM motherboard in compliance with the OEM EULA.  Replacing a Motherboard with anything other than a direct replacement or upgraded Motherboard would fall into the category of a new system and a license for new operating system software is required.

Quoted from MS System Builders

"If the motherboard is replaced because it is defective, you do NOT need to acquire a new operating system license for the PC. The replacement motherboard must be the same make/model or the same manufacturer’s replacement/equivalent."

A system builder it seems would determine what constitutes as a qualifying motherboard"

My take on the above MSB quote.

As I see it, the purchaser of a generic OEM XP version of XP becomes the system builder and can determine what hardware upgrade becomes a system that the OEM is the sole support by the OEM.

This pretty much leaves it open to the OEM system builder.

As the OEM system builder they can define what hardware was upgraded in compliance with the OEM EULA when prompted for activation.

This would also seem to satisfy Microsoft's requirement that the OEM assumes all support of the OS for the reduced price of the OEM license. I am sure that generic OEM versions are still priced higher than the big system builders pay for each OEM license.

Systems shipped with the big box (HP, Compaq, Dell, Toshiba, Sony, Gates, etc. ) OEM versions would need to upgrade hardware supported by the vendor and would be limited by their licensing restrictions .

3. If changing to a new hard drive involves cloning the old hard drive to the new hard drive and the old drive is removed from service, I would make sure the image was a success before "FIRST" removing XP from the hard drive. After verifying the system move to the new hard drive is stable, you can safely format, delete, partition, etc the old drive. Make sure your backup image is safely stored on other external media.


Top of Page