Difference between OEM and Retail.

By ZeroCount ยท 15 replies
Jun 15, 2006
  1. I am going to have to buy a new OS, and I am looking at Microsoft Pro w/SP2 and there are the choices of OEM, and Retail. What do I get/not get with each one?

  2. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,002   +15

    you want retail. OEM is specific to the computer it was built for.
  3. iss

    iss TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,994

    as allready noted. by license microsoft limits the OEM to one computer. also OEM has no support from microsoft if there is a problem. ( the OEM manufacturer is supposed to provide the support.)

  4. ZeroCount

    ZeroCount TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 48

    Thanks for the responses guys, now for another question.. What is better out of Media and Pro?

    I play games among other things, and I want to know what is more versatile.
  5. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,002   +15

    I've never used XP media, but Pro is better for all around. MEdia is supposed to be for video editing etc....
  6. alidabiri

    alidabiri TS Rookie Posts: 441

    if you build your own computer (as thousands do these days), where you buy your hardware, you can buy an OEM cd also. it is meant for a new pc. whether made by dell, hp, acme! or yours truely or john doe. as noted before, you won't get support from M$, and it is usaually only the cd. no fancy books, boxes, etc. when i build my machine, i bought the hardware and the os together. besides, OEM is a lot cheaper than retail. it usually sells for about $80.00. you can buy it from here: www.softwareoutlet.com or even at walmart.
  7. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,002   +15

    like the old saying goes... you get what you pay for.

    With OEM, the drivers may be incompatible with your built system and may cause errors.
  8. alidabiri

    alidabiri TS Rookie Posts: 441

    with all due respect i have to disagree with you on this one. the drivers are the same for retail, oem, vlk, etc. mine works fine. i'm sure you know that the only difference between and oem and retail is in the way the "extradata" parameter is coded on the sys file. should i say more .....?
  9. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,002   +15

    With OEM, the drivers are custom tailored for the computer it is on. Retail uses generic or universal drivers. So I have to disagree with you then.
  10. N3051M

    N3051M TS Evangelist Posts: 2,115

    isnt there two types of OEM?

    one being the one you get integrated with say.. HP drivers/manufacturer's drivers for that machine, and the other being just the winxp cd, with its generic set of drivers, for those who build the pc themselves - just like when you get OEM hardware like dvd burners...?

    i know when i got this rig built i just bought the OEM Winxp.. which was a green + xp home logo cardboard thing shrinkwrapped with the winxp cd inside.. and the licence sticker..

    of course, that said i did download the drivers for each components myself.. pulled it on to a cd for future reference :D
  11. iss

    iss TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,994

    Yes you are correct, The XP OEM disks you buy at places like newegg are no different than the retail version available to anyone. with the exception of the fact that MS offers no support and the license is different. a retail version is licensed for one computer. and that can be any computer you want. the OEM version is licensed for one computer the one that is being built for which the OEM is purchsed. (MS rules require hardwarew purchases be made with the purchase of the OEM disk. MS considers hardware to be the Mobo, hard drives ram etc. but most retailers take a very loose interpretation of this requiremnt and will allow purchse of the OEM disks with any hardware purchase including even just a audio cable. so far MS has not taken issue with this.

    The type of OEM that Tedster refers to is not actually sold as an individual disk it is actually an image that large OEM makers use and add thier own specific drivers to and then put on a disk to go with the computer they sell.
  12. ZeroCount

    ZeroCount TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 48

    Very interesting, from the looks of it, OEM has way too many holes in its network. I'll pay a little extra and go with Pro RETAIL, and see how that goes.

    Hopefully, once I get all my stuff backed up and my new OS installed, Ill be high flying :)
  13. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,666

    I would also say there is NO DIFFERENCE whatesoever at all between retail and OEM installs. It's the same silver disk for both, it installs the same, has the same drivers, works the same way.
    Where they differ is in some small things that don't really matter to the average person anyway. Ones that I can list offhand:

    1: As stated many times, OEM has a different license. Most important, that it must be purchased with hardware. The hardware in question is any piece of hardware required for a system to be usable. Which can go right down the cheapest part like a bios battery or ribbon cable. This is hardly a reason to switch to retail. Nor does it limit XP's usefulness or features or anything else. It's just the way it has to be sold.

    2: OEM CDs, by virtue of the aformentioned setupp.ini variables, accept only OEM product keys. This is true for any version anyway. Retail only accepts retail, and VL for VL. Also no reason to switch, unless you, for some reason, have a pile of illegal retail keys you want to use? In which case you need a retail CD. Or OEM keys, you need the OEM CD. This is no reason to switch, as each version just takes the type of code you get with it. With no advantage or disadvantage to either.

    3: When you buy OEM, you only get the CD and product key, maybe with a single piece of paperwork. No box or manuals etc...And who ever read that manual? And who hangs their retail box on the wall for looks? Just extras you want to pay 10s of dollars for for nothing.

    And I guess MS doesn't give support for them. But who ever tries to get support from MS when you have places like Techspot? Who would ever subject themselves to the torture of trying to get help from MS? That is no reason to get retail over OEM. So MS can say it's Norton's fault, and Norton can say it's your ISPs fault, and your ISP can say it's Windows fault and then MS will again say it's a hardware problem, and so ASUS or whatever, says it's your RAM, and Corsair says it's the CPU, and Intel says your hard drive is bad....... um, no. I wouldn't call MS support if you paid me.

    Our store, just about, exclusively buys XP OEM for everything we do from selling it to building machines. And never ran into troubles because it's the SAME as retail in regards to the software itself, drivers, install process etc...

    Whether you buy OEM or retail, doesn't matter, you can still only use the key you get with it, to put on ONE PC. So no advantage/disadvantage to either.

    Why pay extra for a box and silly manual which tells you nothing?

    I'm not advocating OEM, I'm just saying there is no difference installing windows between the two. It works exactly the same. So don't buy retail cause you think OEM is somehow a crippled version, which it is NOT.

    And lastly, between Pro and Media, just so you know, unless things have changed, you can't buy Media Center, it only comes preinstalled on PCs. The average person can't walk into PCs 'r US and buy Media Center. MS only sells it en masse to PC manufacturers. Again, unless things have changed.

    That's my take. Take it or leave it.
  14. iss

    iss TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,994

    I agree, with retail version your paying a 150.00 more for the priviledge of being on hold for a couple of hours when you cal MS. Techincally MS limits the OEm to the computer that it is first put on. in practice I have never known MS to make an issue if someone builds a new rig and uses the OEM. ( as long as they only have the OEM on one rig)
  15. alidabiri

    alidabiri TS Rookie Posts: 441

    again, with all due respect, that is not true. if you're talking about an oem cd with dell's logo on it, maybe you're right (i doubted). but a microsoft oem cd is actually made for people who build their own pc, such as myself and thousands of others. not everybody uses retail.
  16. alidabiri

    alidabiri TS Rookie Posts: 441

    well said. i couldn't have said it better. calling M$ for support = being on hold for over 2 hours and then bounced around between other companies like basketball. i would never do that even if i had retail. I build and repair pc's everyday. i install oem on these machines. i have never seen a difference between oem and retail version of xp in terms of behavior. i have never had a customer, complain about oem being installed on their custom built machine. they're practically the same, except the cd code.
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