using windows 7 preinstalled vs volume licensing

We are going to be purchasing several windows 7 professional computers soon. Working with other companies in the past, we have always imaged machines for mass deployments. I am thinking in my scenario that even though I have a large number of machines to deploy, imaging might not be the best way to go about doing it.

If I image all of the machines I will have to purchase volume licensing for the machines which means I am essentially paying for a Windows 7 license twice. Since all of my software installed automatically via group policy, I don't think I would be saving any time by imaging the machines. To me it looks like the best way to deploy all of these machines is to set them up as they are shipped, join them to the domain and allow the software to install. Then just modify msconfig so that all the garbage that comes with the computer does not boot.

I would like feedback on whether this is the best way to deploy these or not.

Thanks,

Justin
JustinGSEIWIAsked:
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
To create an image, you are NOT required to purchase a volume license for all systems - a single copy (or single order of the minimum) gets you the necessary Win7 Pro volume license media for which to build the image which you can then deploy to all systems that have Win7 Pro on it.

Alternatively, you can purchase Software Assurance (SA) for the new systems within 90 days which then, if I'm not mistaken, permits you to use Win7 Enterprise instead of Pro and you can create an Enterprise image and deploy that.  SA costs, I believe about $100 per system and provides some additional benefits including "free" future upgrades.

You can also look at deploying via or in conjunction with the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit - which would allow you to deploy applications without necessarily being part of the image.

finally, you CAN image OEM versions for redeployment to the same make/model system AND without modification to that image (meaning, the system comes in, complete the out-of-box setup, sysprep, re-image; you CANNOT do so much as add a shortcut or favorite but it was uncertain as to whether you could apply Windows Updates (as discussed in a meeting with some MS licensing folks I attended at the beginning of the month).

DISCLAIMER: Licensing advice offered here is a "best effort" and based on the understanding of the respondents. Licenses can change and we may not be aware of these changes or may misunderstand them. Further, licenses can differ by country and/or region and what we understand to be true in our region could be false in your region. "they told me on Experts-Exchange" will not be a valid defense in a software audit.  All licensing questions should be confirmed with the appropriate licensing authority (the maker of the software/issuer of the license).  
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☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
If your machine has an OEM license and you already hold a VL for the same version and language of Windows you can add the OEM machines to your VL (under Reimaging Rights provided via the volume licensing agreement)  Here is Microsoft's latest briefing on this.  You do not need to buy a second license for the machine.
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Netman66Commented:
See attached.

You may NOT reimage OEM computers for mass deployment using OEM media (which includes the preload).  If you are a Volume Licensed customer, you may use your Volume Media to reimage the OEM machines so long as the version of Windows is the same (Pro, Ultimate) - obviously, Enterprise is NOT an OEM build, so you cannot change that.

I understand your question, however using OEM builds in your environment are not a good idea.  The crap that comes preloaded will always try to "phone home" and cause more headaches that their worth.




reimaging.docx
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Netman66Commented:
Oops, sorry MASQUERAID, until I followed your link I didn't realize it pointed to the same file.

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SISAntCommented:
Dependant on how many PC's you're going to be shipping out I'd say different things. If its only 7, why give yourself the hassle of writing an image to them.

Though if what the others are saying is true and you can use a VL  copy to burn utilising the OEM keys then by all means do that... I deal with small to medium size businesses (1-100) and we have never used the VL method, though intriguingly it looks like something I'm going to look into.

Obviously my concerns are that you'll pay for the OS twice just for the nicety of not having any bloatware onboard.
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JustinGSEIWIAuthor Commented:
Basically you are paying for the OS twice. You purchase the machine and it comes with Windows 7 Pro on it. Then if you want to image it, you must purchase VL which is going to cost additional.

Right now, the only reason I can see to image the machines is to remove all the bloat-ware that comes on them. However, I cannot justify the additional cost given that all of my software is installed automatically and a simple modification of MSconfig disables all software from loading at boot.

Thanks for all the information everyone!
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Apparently you did not read my comment as that's not true.

Best of luck.
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JustinGSEIWIAuthor Commented:
I asked my vendor and they also said that you do not get VL with the OEM license and you need VL to be able to image the machines.

Thanks,

Justin
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Netman66Commented:
@Lee - what, specifically are you stating isn't true?  

@Justin - VL or SA is purchased based on seats.  Unless these are new, additional machines (above and beyond what was purchased via VL or SA) then you don't need to purchase anything.  Also, depending on your agreement, your seat cost could be as low as $23.  You need to contact MS Licensing with your customer number to get your pricing and it's only a paper license since you have the media.

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SISAntCommented:
my colleague has just told me something interesting.

as long as all the PC's are the same you can clean up one of the systems to your desired image, sysprep it and image it onto all the other machines

this can then be applied via your preferred solution (Acronis, Norton Ghost, RIS, WDS etc)

Obviously they will all have the same license key but thats you just change when you've done the image.
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SISAntCommented:
Or you can actually have the sysprep prompt you on installation, remember though to use the same OEM key that is found on each machine as that won't break the software agreement because the original key is used with the original system that was supplied with the hardware.
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JustinGSEIWIAuthor Commented:
SISAnt,

Did this get tested and work well?
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Netman66Commented:
Your colleague is wrong.

OEM Specific Information:
•      Organizations do not have the right to reimage by using OEM media.
•      An OEM image can only be preloaded on a PC by the OEM during manufacturing. An image can be individually recovered by the organization (or a service provider they choose) by using the Recovery Media. The OEM recovery media should match the product version originally preinstalled on the system; no other image may be used to restore the system to its original state.

Directly from the document contained in this thread.

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JustinGSEIWIAuthor Commented:
Thanks netman
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Folks, I sat in the room with a licensing guy, several Setup & Deployment MVPs, and several members of Setup & Deployment related product teams as the very SPECIFIC question of imaging OEM was asked less than one month ago.  I also attended an online meeting about 3 months earlier where the same question was asked.  

I'll repeat what I said in my first post:
To create an image, you are NOT required to purchase a volume license for all systems - a single copy (or single order of the minimum) gets you the necessary Win7 Pro volume license media for which to build the image which you can then deploy to all systems that have Win7 Pro on it.


To be clear, your company MUST have volume licenses, but NOT one for every system, just volume license media that matches the base OEM version.

Alternatively, you can purchase Software Assurance (SA) for the new systems within 90 days which then, if I'm not mistaken, permits you to use Win7 Enterprise instead of Pro and you can create an Enterprise image and deploy that.  SA costs, I believe about $100 per system and provides some additional benefits including "free" future upgrades.

You can also look at deploying via or in conjunction with the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit - which would allow you to deploy applications without necessarily being part of the image.

finally, you CAN image OEM versions for redeployment to the same make/model system AND without modification to that image (meaning, the system comes in, complete the out-of-box setup, sysprep, re-image; you CANNOT do so much as add a shortcut or favorite but it was uncertain as to whether you could apply Windows Updates (as discussed in a meeting with some MS licensing folks I attended at the beginning of the month).
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Netman66Commented:
Interesting Lee.  When will MS change their reimaging document to reflect this allowance?  The one we've included here is Feb 2011 so it's fairly new.

As I wasn't sitting in on that session at the Summit, I can't comment on it, but I find it odd that this hasn't been conveyed to the public in any big way.

Up until your statement just now, I've known OEM licensing has always been very restricted in what you could do with it - especially in the redeployment/reimaging space.



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SISAntCommented:
Sorry for any misinformation from my colleagues part, He still argues that its fine to do beause you're not adding anything, you're only removing the bloatware. But either way. I beleive Netman and Lee have covered all the valid points around the legality and VL.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
To be clear - it's NOT re-imaging OEM (not really) - re-imaging implies customization by the end-user - the end user CANNOT customize an OEM image and re-deploy it.  That's not permitted.

BUT, lets say you order 20 PCs with Windows 7 Pro for your office - all Dell Optiplex 755s (I think they're old at this point, but it's what I'm going to use for this example).  5 are using the top-of-the-line CPU, come with 500 GB Hard Drives, and have 8 GB of RAM for use by the CxOs and supervisors in this small business.  10 are to be used for the Sales, Support, HR, and Marketing staff - they are purchased with mid-level CPUs, 250 GB hard drives, and 4 GB of RAM. And the last 5 are to be lightly used in conference rooms and the like and are purchased with low-end CPUs, 80 GB hard drives, and 2 GB of RAM.  They are otherwise identical systems and all purchased within 2 months of each other (could be more, could be less time, point is other than some basic specs, they are identical and use the same drivers and come with the same pre-installed cr*p).  

You can AT A MINIMUM, image one of those systems PRIOR to letting it boot normally and then use that image to reimage ANY of the other systems.  At that point there have been NO customizations and that image is purely a backup of the OEM config as it was shipped.  THIS IS PERMITTED. The Sysprep part, I believe is possible if that's the ONLY thing done (and to some extent, would be pointless since the machine comes following a syspreping).  

Now, I've heard you can buy a SINGLE OS Volume License but haven't actually explored how true that is.  AT WORST, you can buy 5 Volume License (which then grant you upgrade rights to other systems AND provide you the volume license media to create an image for any system that runs the OS version that the volume license is.  So, for example:

I buy those 20 PCs and have 10 others that are 2 years old and slower, but capable of running Win7 but currently have XP Pro.  I now buy 5 volume licenses of Win7 Pro - I now have the volume license media an the right to upgrade 5 of those XP systems to Pro.  I can create an image using that Volume License media and deploy that image to ALL 20 new PCs AND upgrade the 5 XP machines I already have.  

(I don't think I'm contradicting anything I said prior unless otherwise noted (sysprep thing above))

So if each volume license is $200 (for easy rounding), then to reimage the 20 OEM Win7 machines and upgrade 5 to Win7 Pro (and have the rights to continue to do so), costs me $1000, it does NOT cost me $5000 (25 PCs x $200).

As an MSP (well, trying) who needs to efficiently be able to restore a system to working order, that $1000 may well be worth it.  It depends on the environment.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
One final point on the OEM thing -

You have those 20 Dell Optiplex 755s and then you buy 5 more Optiplex 760s - you CANNOT use that image on the 760s.   But you can take an image of ONE 760 and then use it on the other 4.  Again, imaging an OEM install is nothing more than an as-shipped backup.
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