What media/subscriptions do you recommend as a new business starter

I have just setup in business helping small businesses to manage their computer networks. All their XP machines have XP installed and they have the licence attached to the case. I want to use ghost to image the PCs but realise that if I use the media that came with the machines, I will be asked to activate the software once the PC has been imaged.

I know that if I use a select disk it doesnt ask for this activation.

Is there anything I can get/sign up for that might say provide media and licence keys that I can use as a systems/network techie person.

Is Technet something I should sign up for and what about MSDN.

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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I don't sell systems and I've seen some comments around this site suggesting that ghosting and such imaging isn't easily done unless you are "in bed" with Microsoft like Dell and HP are.  

As for what do buy for yourself, I STRONGLY recommend Technet Plus - as an independent consultant who needs to stay fresh on the variety of Microsoft Technologies available, this is BY FAR the most reasonably priced method of doing so.  When you factor in that your get 2 free support calls worth $490, the $499 price (if I'm not mistaken) makes this a no-brainer as Technet plus provides you with Windows Servers, Exchange, SMS, SQL, and several other products (note, they are for evaluation purposes, so you can't run your business off them).  

MSDN is nice, but they changed the pricing plan... before it was merely fairly expensive to get MSDN universal, but now with the team services stuff, as I've come to understand, they are charging potentailly $10,000 for a "maximum benefit" (as I'll call it) license.  The days of a $3000 universal license are gone.  If you are a developer, writing software, than get MSDN.  If not, don't bother and go with TechNet.

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You cannot Ghost and reuse OEM images on anything other than the system they came from - legally.

That being said, you can create a reference machine and Sysprep it, but leave the key out of the sysprep.inf file, this way you can use the image on all the identical machines and during Sysprep you can enter the key off the actual computer so that the key matches the installation.  As long as you work with the OEM preinstall then it shouldn't be all that evil.  You have to keep the images at the client site and only use them on their exact equipment that the reference image was taken from.

As for Volume or Select Licensing - this is for the client, not you.  The decision on what to buy for the client ultimately comes down to cost and whether the client will move to Software Assurance.

roy_battyDirectorAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the advice guys. So if I get a Technet plus subscription they wll provide me with the media for their software. I can then evaluate this for as long as I want (ie no time restrictions). If my customers have bought a licence for their software, but have lost the disks. I could then use my evaluation disks together with my customers licence to install the software.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
NO, you likely cannot use the evaluation CDs to install software with their keys.  You can try, but it might not work.  I tried with Small Business Server and called Microsoft because I had difficulty.  The product keys are USUALLY specific to the product code on the disk - something like X05-00567.

Frankly, I tell my clients the "truth" with regards to this.  My CDs use different keys than there's and I cannot my use disks for them (since that occurance).  If a client looses their CD, then find out what kind of license they have (Select, MOLP, Academic, etc) and call Microsoft.  At least for MOLP, CDs for any software are $30, shipping included (at least as of about 6 weeks ago).  Lose the SQL Server CD, buy it for $30.  Lose the Microsoft Plus CD, buy it for $30.  Doesn't matter.  You, of course, have to have that license for that product to get the MOLP CDs.
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Windows Server 2003

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