OEM and imaging – The rules of the game

The most tricky parts in a deployments rarely have anything to do with technical issues, but rather political or licensing issues. This article explains (to us mere mortals), how OEM and imaging really can be used.

The shorthand deal is that Enterprise deployment is a Volume License (or SA) benefit. As an Enterprise you are not allowed to reimage Retail or OEM images. Let me explain from a few common scenarios.

Scenario #1

You buy 100 machines from Dell that comes preinstalled with Windows 7 x64 Professional, OEM licenses. 

Q: Can you install a few apps on one of them, do some configuration, sysprep it, capture it, and restore that image to the other machines?
A: No, you will be violating the EULA. You have to ask the OEM to the customization for you, and redeliver a new recovery media to you, or a new drive, or a new machine.

Q: What options do I have?
A: Assuming you want to deploy the exact windows edition, language and components. 

You can buy at least one license of the of Windows 7 x64 Professional to get the volume license media. Deploy that image (which is already sysprepped by Microsoft) to all your machines.

If you need a reference image (maybe with some updates/apps and/or customizations, then you do the following:
– Install that media (in a virtual machine so you can use snapshots)
– Install any apps you want to the virtual machine
– Customize the OS
– Snapshot the virtual machine
– Sysprep it
– Reboot into WinPE and capture it
– Deploy the captured image to all 100 machines.

Note: You should be using MDT Lite Touch or similar deployment solutions to automate the above steps

Scenario #2

You still buy 100 machines from Dell that comes preinstalled with Windows 7 x64 Professional, OEM licenses. 

Q: You want to deploy Windows 7 Enterprise to all the machines
A: Buy 100 volume licenses for Windows 7 Enterprise, use the above steps to create and deploy a reference image.

About the author

Johan Arwidmark

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Stefan
Stefan
7 years ago

mmm.. its a shame one cant copy the OEM folders so they may activate windows like the DVD does

sman26
sman26
10 years ago

If you say yes then I believe my MAK key number on MS's website will start to increase and be at 100 uses for Windows 7 Professional. How will they know that I am putting these on OEM boxes which also had Windows 7 Pro so not to worry? Won't they think I am just using 100 free licenses?
thanks again.

sman26
sman26
10 years ago

If you say yes then I believe my MAK key number on MS's website will start to increase and be at 100 uses for Windows 7 Professional. How will they know that I am putting these on OEM boxes which also had Windows 7 Pro so not to worry? Won't they think I am just using 100 free licenses?
thanks again.

sman26
sman26
10 years ago

Thank you for the helpful information in this blog.I did want to ask about scenario #1. We are currently in this situation having 100 PCs from HP that have OEM Windows 7 installed.So are you saying if I buy one Professional version from MS to get the Volume LIcense Media then I can use that to build my reference PC and then ghost my other 99 from that. I do have access to the MS Volume Licensing Service Center website because we have gotten our Office 2007 downloaded from their site and have bought a 1 or 2 Windows 7… Read more »


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