Tuesday, November 22, 2011


SOFTWARE AND HARDWARE: Windows Operating Systems (XP, Vista, 7 and 8 versions). Retail versions of Windows versus OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) versions of Windows.

When you decide to buy a particular version of a Windows Operating System, the following options are available to you along with the pros and cons of each:

(1) RETAIL (aka. FULL) Windows version: is the most expensive, but CAN be transferred to another (new) computer as long as you completely uninstall it from your old computer then reinstall it onto the new one and re-activate it. A Retail version of Windows also allows you to replace (update) your CPU or Motherboard, and to upgrade to another edition of your current Windows version or to upgrade to the newest release of Windows, for example, upgrade from Vista to Windows 7. NOTE: Continuing to run the same copy of Windows on your old and new computer at the same time is similar to using a pirated (illegal) version on your old computer and you'll have issues with it, too. Each copy of any Retail Windows Operating System version has a unique installation product key number and is tracked by Microsoft when you install Windows and submit its product key number to Microsoft. And, each copy of a Windows version is only supposed to be installed onto ONE computer.

(2) Retail UPGRADE Windows version: costs less than a Retail (Full) version of Windows, and costs just a bit more than the factory OEM version(s) [see (3), (4) and (5) regarding OEM versions]. Upgrading Windows means that you're upgrading your presently installed Windows version to another edition of the same Windows version, or you can upgrade your current Windows version to the newest version (newest release) of Windows (i.e. upgrading from Windows Vista to Windows 7 or upgrading Windows 7 to Windows 8).  Instead of paying for a new Retail (Full) version of the newest release of Windows, you only pay for an upgrade. Unlike a Retail (Full) version of Windows, you can NOT transfer an upgrade version onto another computer (since an upgrade Windows version doesn't have the full Windows version(s) set-up and installation files, it only has upgrade files). Also, with an upgrade version you can NOT replace (upgrade) your CPU or Motherboard.

NOTE: A Windows Operating System version(s) UPDATE (is not the same as an UPGRADE) and an update is provided FREE by Microsoft via Service Packs. A Service Pack update improves your currently installed Windows version's security and performance. Once you or your computer manufacturer installs Windows make sure to configure Windows 'Automatic Updating'. I'll use Windows Vista as an example here for the update steps which are to: Click on Start>click on Control Panel>click on System and Maintenance>System>Windows Update>click on Change Settings and apply the automatic update settings that you prefer.

(3) OEM BRANDED Windows version: Are Windows versions that are pre-installed by the computer manufacturer (i.e. Dell, or Gateway) meaning that you do NOT receive a separate RETAIL (Full) dvd copy of Windows, too, (see more about OEM pre-installed versions below). An OEM version can NOT be installed onto more than one computer. Also, you can NOT use it to replace (update) your CPU or Motherboard, or to upgrade your current Windows to Microsoft's latest release (version) of Windows. NOTE: If you have a hard drive failure you'll have to buy a new OEM version, or a new Retail (Full version).

(4) OEM BRANDED with an OEM Recovery Windows Version cd/dvd: Is an OEM Branded Windows version (see OEM Branded (3) above) pre-installed on your computer when you buy it and you also receive the OEM Windows Recovery cd/dvd that has your Windows version with its installation drivers and utilities. Just like OEM Branded and UnBranded, you can only use OEM Recovery on one computer and you can NOT use an OEM Recovery Windows version cd/dvd to replace (update) your CPU or Motherboard,or to upgrade Windows.

(5) OEM UNBRANDED Windows version: Is an OEM Windows version that is bought separate from (or without) purchasing a computer, too. and can NOT be installed onto more than one computer. Also, you can NOT use it to replace (update) your CPU or Motherboard,or to upgrade Windows. NOTE: If you have a hard drive failure you'll have to buy a new OEM version, or a new Retail (Full version).

So in conclusion, the ONLY type of Windows Operating System (XP, Vista, 7 or 8) version that you can uninstall from your old computer then install onto your new computer is the software: RETAIL (FULL) version of Windows, NOT an upgrade version and NOT an OEM version. Upgrade is not a FULL Windows version and OEM versions can't be legally transferred to another computer according to Microsoft's OEM EULA (End User License Agreement). If your Windows is an OEM version and you have a total hard drive failure and you don't have a backup copy of your OEM or an OEM Windows Recovery dvd your option is to buy a new OEM Unbranded version, or to buy a new Retail (Full) version of Windows. Now when you buy a new computer you'll know to ask the computer store what type of Windows Operating System it has (whether it's a Retail (Full) version that you'll receive the dvd software of, too, or an OEM factory version that does or does not also include an OEM Windows Recovery dvd). 

Regarding computer software and hardware there are three groups of people involved and they are the: manufacturers, retailers, and consumers (buyers). The first thing I'll do is explain who a computer software and hardware manufacturer (aka. factory, wholesaler, or OEM-Original Equipment Manufacturer) is. Then I will explain a computer retailer, and a computer consumer (buyer).

A computer manufacturer, factory or wholesaler (aka. OEM) such as Dell or Gateway, makes computers (aka. hardware). Windows Operating System versions (i.e. XP, Vista, 7 and 8) are software and Microsoft is the manufacturer (OEM). Once Dell makes a computer(s) and pre-installs a Microsoft Windows Operating System (aka. OS) version onto it, Dell then sells it to a retailer (computer store) then, you, the consumer (buyer) buy the computer.

Years ago when you bought a computer, the retailer (computer store) sold it to you with NO version of a Windows Operating System pre-installed on it by the computer manufacturer (i.e. Dell). The computer store sold you the computer and a separate Retail (Full) Windows version installation cd/dvd and you had to install Windows yourself.

For many years now when you buy a new computer it often has a pre-installed Windows Operating System version (aka. Windows factory OEM version) pre-installed by the computer manufacturer (i.e. Dell). And, the computer store sells the computer to you with NO separate Retail (Full) Windows version software installation cd/dvd. Since the Windows OS has been pre-installed, you do NOT install Windows yourself. So when you have issues with your Windows Operating System and you go looking for your Windows installation cd/dvd you will NOT find it because it was never sold to you meaning that you do NOT have a separate dvd software Retail (Full) version of Windows, instead you have a pre-installed factory OEM version of Windows on your computer!!! This is why you should make sure to burn a dvd copy of the pre-installed factory (OEM) Windows System Recovery files as soon as you buy your new computer in case you have a hard drive failure. Very few computer manufacturers still sell an OEM Windows Recovery cd/dvd with a computer, another reason to make sure that you burn a copy of  your OEM Windows. 

NOTE: You can also contact me with any of your computer related questions via my cnet.com profile at this link: www.cnet.com/profile/pamjparr/, then just click on: E-mail Pamela j.

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