Windows 8 Full Upgrade: OEM Edition Only

Dennis Faas's picture

New reports suggest Microsoft may be planning to force users of build-your-own PCs and machines running non-Windows operating systems (OS) to install the manufacturer version of Windows 8. If true, those users could face some serious drawbacks.

Normally, the majority of customers buy Windows through one of two routes: either by buying a PC with the operating system (OS) pre-installed, or by upgrading their current computer to the new OS from a previous version of Windows.

Those affected by the reported policy change fall into two other, much smaller groups of operating system buyers: people who are either building their own computer from scratch (a task that requires some technical knowledge, but can provide major savings), or those whose computers are currently running a non-Windows operating system, such as Linux.

Windows 8 OEM For One-Off PC Makers

In the past, the people comprising these two smaller groups have been forced to buy a full and relatively expensive version of Windows, or go without it.

In the case of Windows 8, however, it now appears that Microsoft will allow people in either of these groups to purchase an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) edition of Windows 8, instead.

This is an OS version traditionally delivered only to PC manufacturers. The good news is that it's usually priced quite low, because manufacturers buy their operating system software in bulk.

If such sales are permitted for the Windows 8 launch, this would be a significant relaxation of the software giant's, and the industry's, usual policies.

OEM Version Cheaper, But Suffers Drawbacks

However, there are some potential drawbacks to installing an OEM version of Windows 8. OEM operating systems are sometimes written for a specific motherboard, the "spine" of the computer that connects to the system's memory, hard drive, disc drive, and other components. (Source:

This means that a person who buys an OEM edition for one computer may not be able to transfer that copy of Windows 8 to a new computer, as can usually be done with retail versions of Windows.

The big disadvantage of the OEM edition for most customers is that it comes with no support from Microsoft.

However, that could change: experts suggest that the conditions and limitations traditionally imposed on OEM versions of Windows could be altered in the near future. (Source:

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