O.S. when assembling PC's.

I just got my A+ certification and plan to assemble several PC's for my family (11 siblings) and friends.
Does anybody know if there's some kind of license to preload the O.S. (i.e. Windows 95) on the machines with one original CD?. If this is not (legally) possible, then how come most computer stores sell PC's with the O.S. preloaded and DO NOT include the original software (CD's, most of the times)?.
Will appreciate any tips/comments on this matter.
TIA for any input.

Efrain R Portales
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To answer your question in short- Its illegal.

Each PC must have original disks/CD for any OS loaded on it (MS-DOS,Win3.x,Win95,WinNT)

You can preload the OS onto the computer but you must supply the original CD with the
computer to make it *legal*.  Any company that preloads any software, including OS, without
including the original CDs, is illegally distributing the software/OS and can get into a lot
of trouble.  To be on the safe side do it legally but to be on the cheaper side - well its
up to you :-)

I used to test evaluate machines from IBM, DELL and Gateway for my university and
even these test machines came with all original CDs for all and any OS and software
that was preinstalled.  The legal way of doing it. :)

Hope I cleared up some of this for you.

If you are installing Win95 on mass quantity for internal use (like companies do) then
you can work out a deal with Microsoft but for retail or any other kind of distribution you
must supply the original CD.

Yep. You should have a nice, green "Certificate of Authenticity" for each machine. M$ will sell you a 5 pack for a discount but don't expect the price to go much below $100/ea.

If a local vendor is shipping machines without the CD's & CofA then they're *THIEVES* and you can earn a reward by calling M$ and turning them in.


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efrain12Author Commented:
Thanks for your prompt responses. I know it's illegal to do this, but then again, how are these big corporations doing the preloading on the PC's they sell?. It seems like there is a way to do it, and that's what I want to find out.
In places (big organizations) where I've worked, the installation of software in more than one machine is allowed, but there is some sort of agreement or license with the vendor of software -like Microsoft- for doing this, like you stated.
But selling a PC with preloaded software TO THE PUBLIC, that's a different story.
So, the question is still open, hope someone can add comments to this 'mystery'?.
Thanks for your reply.


We're a *big* corp. And we've got a *TON* of little green CofA's! our buyer orders OS's in *BULK* and he gets cases of licenses in. He just razors open the docs, grabs the CofA and sticks them in his file for when the software police show up.

M$ *used* to sell a "site license", but they've since gone to "seat license" where every machine has to have a license. We've just migrated to Outlook/Exchange and we bought enough licenses (as the IT department) to equip every desktop with the software. *HOWEVER* we're no longer handing out the install disks to our users that want to have the program on their home/travel machines. We're forcing our users to turn in their CofA before we'll configure a station for them.

Software theft is a multi-billion dollar industry. It tends to put *Americans* out of work as we are the largest software source in the world.

While you run little risk sharing software among family, you still shouldn't do it and it's just as illegal/immoral for you to do it on a onesy-twosey basis as it is for some garage based clone builder to do it by the thousand. The law is clear, M$ has the money to make it stick and local PD's are figuring it out. Even if you think no-one in your family will rat on you, have you never heard of a vindictive ex-spouse?

Big corps are tightening up on casual piracy. We run sweeps of all of the .EXE and .COM files on all of the machines in the net (with about 1200 stations the master file has over a quarter million records!) We sort and digest this down to get a count of any given package and our buyer compares the actual .EXE count to the number of CofA's that he has on file. Things we can't identify cause us to query the user as to what it is and where they got it and lets see the original license or get it *off* the system. It's a lot of work, but we *have* to do is as we're a "stationary target" and we can't just close doors and re-open down the street under a new name. The SPA is slowly visiting every government site (of which we are one) and *bing* your department gets billed for all illegal software and/or people get fired. Isn't pretty.


efrain12Author Commented:
Thanks for your responses, specially mark2150 for his detailed explanation on this matter.
I haven't done anything yet; As you already know, I just built my first PC, but I have an original CD for it.I don't know if I should mention names here, but very well known companies (probably operating nationwide)are doing this selling with preloaded software.
Anyway, thanks for all this info.

Efrain R Portales
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