MS: It's Okay to Buy Vista OEM Software
Microsoft has given the go ahead for users to buy the low-cost OEM copies of Windows Vista now appearing on sites like Newegg.com; however, they would be expected to adhere to the licensing terms just like any other computer manufacturer.
This could mean that support for those computers with this version of Windows installed would be the responsibility of the end-users themselves. Microsoft also noted that like with standard copies of Vista, a user running the OEM version would still be forced to reactivate if he or she substantially alters the computer's hardware configuration.
Purchasing an OEM copy of Microsoft's next-generation operating system may be an attractive option for those not needing a manual or any of the other frills that comes with boxed versions. The company itself is offering a Family Pack version, where those who upgrade to Vista Ultimate are offered two upgrades to the Premium version for $49.99 USD each.
Companies like Newegg are getting around the restriction of selling OEM software by bundling Windows Vista with a small piece of hardware, such as drive cables or other inexpensive accessories. Microsoft warns though, that support becomes the end user's responsibility.
Microsoft said that once the outside seal is broken, the user agrees to the "System Builder License." This means that end-user support becomes that person's responsibility. But for those with a tight budget looking for a full version of the operating system, OEM may be the way to go.
For example, the full version of Windows Vista Ultimate would set a user back $399.95 USD, while purchasing the OEM version from New Egg would cost only $199.99 USD, some $60 cheaper than even the boxed upgrade version.
OEM software holders could choose between a full or upgrade install, Microsoft said.