What is the difference between XP CD's?  OEM, Retail, Upgrade, Corporate?

farrellthrasher used Ask the Experts™
What makes XP CD's different?  Why is an OEM CD and OEM CD?  How is that different from a retail version?  How does Retail differ from Upgrade?  I have an open question that seems to revolve around this issue.  I need to "Repai" of "Upgrade" an existing XP install.  But for some odd reason, my XP CD's do not show this option, though I know I have seen it before.  

What is the magic that makes the CD force an upgrade install ON BOOTING from the CD?  I can't simply stick the CD in and do the upgrade, because the installation of XP is damaged and will not boot.

If anyone knows how the installation CD differ in personality, do you know if I can use my current keycode with the various permutations of XP?

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OEM - Stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer: In a nut sheel this is what is used on like Dell Systems. There is no technicial support from Microsoft on this product, and i believe you are only able to install the software on 1 PC Once.

Retail - Is what you purchase, giving you a limited amount of technical support, also allowing this to be installed on multiple times on the same computer. (meaning if you need to reinstall you can without trouble with licensing)

Upgrade - You are required to own or have installed the orignal copy of a previous version of Windows. (example) Must own 95 to upgrade to 98. You can do a clean install with a upgrade CD if you own the previous version of windows and have the CD for verification.

Corporate - Is like a Enterprise installation, meaning the installtion has the CD-key built in with a Open license to the company.

All the diffrent versions have there own requirements for licensing.

The OEM flavor of XP is no different than retail or upgrade, other than some restrictions in the EULA . . OEM flavor was originally intended for System Builders and thus the low price.  It "lives and dies" with the system that it was originally installed on, whereas Retail and Upgrade versions can be installed on subsequent systems ( but only one at a time ).  OEM does not come with Microsoft Support ( an Oxymoron if there ever was one )

This is a good guide to performing a repair install


If, after booting from the Install CD ( either OEM, Retail or Upgrade flavors ) the Operating system to be repaired does not show . . it usually means the drive is too corrupted to be read.  Sometimes ( and I mean only sometimes ) you can take the drive out, attach to a working pc to salvage data.  This works best if you attach to the Secondary channel ( the one with CD/DVD drives ) . . after that you can try running chkcsk to see if it can repair the corruption.

If your system came with XP installed, you can only use that Product Key with a OEM install disc.
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This is probably the information you need. Version is denoted by a PID (Product ID) code on CD.


Nice link, willcomp.  Is there a comprehensive list of PID's somewhere?
Also, short of reinstalling, is there a way to do the PID change, get the repair installation done, AND reactive a valid XP install?

Link has PIDs listed and combinations pretty well cover the territory . I haven't seen any further information anywhere. The main purpose is to change PID to match product key version and/or change to retail with OEM key for an upgrade.

I thought the information was self-explanatory. To answer your last question, I need version you have installed and wish to repair.


It was self explanatory, though, judging from the fact than none of my XP CD's have the number listed in the article in their .ini file, I suspect there are a host of potential PID's controlling many aspects of the specific XP installation.  I did build a booting XP CD with a "Retail" or Upgrade install and an OEM Key recquirement.  It DOES offer the "Repair" option and DOES successfully repair the Damaged XP installation.  However, it DOES NOT pass WGA authorization, so I had to install over the repaired OS.  Since the drive booted to the OS, though, all I had to do was put an XP CD into the drive, and upgrade from the functioning OS.  That passed WGA just fine.

This does answer the question, and is a fix that gets the points.  I was simply asking if anyone had more information on the possible PID's.

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