Windows versions - OEM verus Retail CD's and keys

I have a consistant problem as a PC Support engineer with reinstalling Windows and using the right CD.

Is it correct that all retail keys will work with any XP retail CD?

But what about OEM versions?

Is it that OEM's are bought in large numbers by big companies Dell, Packard Bell, Compaq.
Therfore you need there copy of an OEM CD to reinstall windows.
For example A Packard bell PC with a Windows OEM sticker on the side,
will only reinstall from a Windows Packard Bell OEM CD.

If that's correct is there any file changes I can make to create a... multi flavoured CD?

Hope you can help
Who is Participating?
I guess this will help you a lot:

Since you only provide support and no unlicensed windows version, I see no problem in modifying a windows setup CD.

In the end, the key is unimportant, all that counts is if you got a license to run a particular windows version. (The sticker on the PC) So even if you convert (free) an OEM version to a freely usable setup CD, one cannot expect support from Microsoft and this is all the entire OEM business is all about.


< Is it correct that all retail keys will work with any XP retail CD? >

No, depends on the release.

< But what about OEM versions? >

OEM versions are specific to each PC and cannot be transferred or sold.  Regardless of what anyone else tells you.  Also, OEM CDs look for chipset codes identifying the manufacturer.

< If that's correct is there any file changes I can make to create a... multi flavoured CD? >

No, not legally.  You have to purchase a volume license.

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Don't expect to get any Win updates from Microsoft if you are using unregistered or bootlegged versions....Booda2us
DamesterAuthor Commented:
Isn't the whole legal factor only relevant to having windows installed with a valid licence key,
besides the debate about OEM installs on the wrong PC.
I'm trying to achieve an OEM re-installation on the original PC but no correct CD, (typical scenario).

<No, depends on the release.>
Apart from the release it's fine, isn't it?

Tolomir thanks for interesting articles

I could find anything that answered what we service engineers can do.
I've called MS a few times and they have re-activated a few XP keys for me but with OEM,
they say to call the original manufacture and obtain the restore CD from them.

Do I have to call every company to obtain a valid OEM CD and past the time and cost onto the customer.
Maybe write a complaint letter to all companies asking them to continue shipping the Windows restore CD
and expect my customers not to loose them.

Or quite simply if anyone can help, get a CD or instructions on modifying window installs.

Using the key on the side of the tin should allow me to authenticate for windows update, don't you agree?
DamesterAuthor Commented:
Excuse me Tolomir, missed the crucial link you sent on first post, I also found that link and does answer the question.
However I ashould have mentioned I need it for Windows Millennium, any ideas?
Like I said...modify at your own expense.  Again, OEM licenses are NOT transferrrable!  And, it's not legal to modify (HACK) a legal version.

From my experience (at least 200+ re-installs of Windows XP):
An OEM Windows XP Home CD will work for all computers that have an OEM install of Windows XP Home (with the Home OEM license key stuck to the side).  
Also an OEM Windows XP Pro CD will work for all computers that have an OEM install of Windows XP Pro (with the Pro OEM license key stuck to the side).  

We do quite a few installs, and we do our re-installs, re-loads, and in-place upgrades of the OEM Windows XP computers with a OEM XP CD that includes SP2 (to skip a step).  In every case I can remember, the re-install, re-load and in-place upgrade has always worked using the product key on the sticker.  

Over the past 8-9 months most of the time the computer has to be re-activated by calling MS (before 8-9 months ago they auto-activated without having to call MS), but you jsut answer the questions honestly, and they have never given us a problem with the re-activation.  Questions are usually "is the the first time this copy of Windows has been installed" (answer is usually no) and "is it installed on any other comptuers" (answer is usually no) and sometimes they will ask for the MFG name, or PC model name, or to read the Product key from the sticker.  We just explain the scenario for that comptuer ... like HD crashed and Windows had to be re-installed, or whatever the case may be.

The same seems to be true with Upgrade versions and Retail versions ... and we very rarely deal with Volume License.

So for our scenario, we have 6 CDs on hand to handle all of our Windows XP re-installs:
1) Windows XP Home OEM with SP2
2) Windows XP Pro OEM with SP2
3) Windows XP Home Upgrade with SP2
4) Windows XP Pro Upgrade with SP2
5) Windows XP Home Retail with SP2
6) Windows XP Pro Retail with SP2

From my understanding of the license, re-installing Windows with the same type and version is not breaking the license agreement.

And just to be clear, the OEM versions have always worked properly for us on all OEM brands we have encountered ... Dell, HP, Sony, IBM, Compaq, Toshiba, etc.
Mainly at our work, we deal with OEM copies where Microsoft supplies us with a big roll of OEM sticker to stick on our PC cases. We have a copy of OEM CD in which we have created a Ghost image of, using that ghost image + sysprep tool, customers enter the CD Key based on the stickers they find on the side of the cases.

OEM cdkey will work with OEM versions of XP, however, there are differences in Pro and Home, as you would normally suspect that Home key will not work with Pro version.
One thing you could change is the PID number in the setupp.ini file on the install disc what this number does is it tells what the cd will do. upgrade and install or install only (OEM) and also tells what type of key it will accept OEM, Retail, or Volume.  The first 5 numbers tell how the cd will act the last 3 will tell it what keys to accept.

The PID numbers are as follows
Retail = 51882 335
Volume License = 51883 270
OEM = 82503 OEM

You can mix them also like have OEM accept retail license keys 82503 335

what that copy would do is only install and only accept retail keys once you burned the new cd.  As far as making a cd that will accept all the keys no sorry this is not possible.
Oh and booda I have an unregistered bootleg copy and recieve all updates from microsoft and its even running the "new" windows genuine advantage without a hitch just so you know it is possible.
There are different classes of OEM cd's also the ones sent by dell are made with sysprep and include all the drivers for the hardware and apps they want installed and such OEM and retail disc are the same disc OEM just has a few modifications that can be reversed to change it back to a retail disc.  
Damester if the key is on the side of the case yeah it should allow you to place it back on and go all the way through with no problems as you will have the same hardware makeup that is registerd with the last install the only thing is if you are using an OEM from a different packaged computer you might have to edit out the key that it was installing on the other computer if it was sent by a major company like dell or compaq it was probably setup to place the key in itself.  This is also setup in the setupp.ini file. If you have any problems with that just take a retail disc and use the process stated above to change it to accept OEM keys and burn a new install disc and you should be up and running in no time.
DamesterAuthor Commented:
Thanks everyone for giving so much useful information, not sure how to distribute the points just yet.

It has cleared up all the questions I had about Licencing and keys except as mentioned earlier,
I currently need it for Windows Millenium i.e. I have a Windows Millenium Retail CD and need an OEM copy for it to work.
Any notes about changing a setup file on a Win ME cd to make it OEM ?

I will award half the points to a relevant answer regarding this OS

Thanks again

If your company would allow for a hardware configuration change so that the PCs would automatically reinstall the C drive in case of a failure and thus reducing downtime to a couple of hours when it is convenient, then do the following. The configuration is wonderful. If my HD dies, I just boot my slave drive and I am still in business. I can also reinstall the C: at my convenience without loss of data.

First purchase a back up program Acronis True Image. Do not purchase Norton since it does not make a bootable slave drive.
!5 day evaluation: www.acronis True
Purchase when satisfied it at the following site which is half price than sold in the stores.

Purchase and install a slave drive one larger than the C drive. Doing this will allow you to use it as a C drive when you find yourself running out of room. Of course at that time a duplicate slave drive will be needed.

Download the following boot manager. It will upon booting present a menu allowing you to choose any drive on the pc.
It sometimes fails and then it boots directly to the C drive. At that time you just reinstall the program. It happens once a year.

With Acronis make a HD COPY of your C drive. As mentioned the process will make the slave drive bootable. This should be done on a monthly basis.

Make a folder called 'Database' for example. Under it put all your data files. On a daily basis, erase the folder from the slave drive and copy and paste the folder from the C drive to the slave drive.

Now if you have a failure, just reboot and select the slave drive and one then can continue working until there is time to recover the C drive.

When ready, just boot to the slave drive. Since Acronis is already available on the slave drive, just do a HDCOpy to the C: drive.

Now only thing that must be done is to reinstall any programs installed during the month.

Xp Pro is a very stable OS, but when it fails it takes longer to find the problem than win98.
Once again Damester see my post on PID numbers it is the same for all versions of windows change the last 3 digits of the PID numbers in the setupp.ini file to OEM and it will accept your liscense after you burn that new cd.  Step by step is to take the disc place the contents on your computer open the !386 folder and look for the setupp.ini file and edit the PID number reburn the contents onto a disc and WHAM your done have fun.
DamesterAuthor Commented:

I appreciate the advise but, I have a CD that allows me to install all the different versions of XP from one CD, it simply asks at the boot menu which one you would like, so it is possible!

Secondly I keep repeating that I need it for Win ME but know one seems to notice.
Unlesss I've searched incorrectly, there is no setupp.ini file in Win ME.
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