OEM Vs Retail Windows: Learn The Difference


If you’re a PC enthusiast, then you have to have heard of different variants of Windows available on the market. And I am not speaking about the variant like Windows 7,8 etc, however the version that you find while purchasing the Windows either online or from any local store. There you might have heard or seen about two Windows accessible i.e. an OEM and Retail version.

You may have wondered what’s the difference between these two. We did too, and so we did some investigating to find out it. Within this guide, we are likely to explain and compare both the OEM and Retail Windows and see what are the fundamental differences and which one you should go for while purchasing a new Windows to your PC.

Difference Between OEM And Retail Windows

OEM companies are those that manufacture products which are utilized by other companies in their merchandise. In this case, Microsoft is a OEM that supplies its Windows operating system to computer makers like HP, Dell, Lenovo etc..

OEM Windows or you can say Original Equipment Manufacturer is the first version of Windows that’s employed by System Builders or PC makers. While the Retail also offers the original version of Windows, it’s intended for users to install in their PC for private use. Both the OEM and Retail edition of Windows is almost common and once they are set up you wont find any certain difference, yet to make clear for you we’ve pointed out some significant differences between them.


Well if you have a look in the usage point of view, both the versions are very different. As stated previously, OEM is for the machine contractors or manufacturers who build or construct the PC for the customers. Though the Retail model is for people who are trying to install Windows in their existing PC or laptops for use.


Should you purchase a new PC or background then you will certainly get the OEM version of the Windows version on the computer system.

Also, if OEM variant requires an update, for instance out of Windows 7 to 8 then a fresh install will probably be required. Unlike in retail version at which you can just update it to another variant.

Limitations In Utilizing On Different PCs

OEM version of Windows is limited to just 1 PC. This usually means it can be set up only in a single PC and can be embedded into its own hardware and cannot be moved further. Even though the retail version is also limited to 1 PC, but it may be transferred to another pc.


Microsoft doesn’t provide service for OEM Windows since they are for system developers, the additional service is provided by the PC manufacturer to the consumers right.

And in the Retail model, the aid of the applications to the users is directly supplied by Microsoft.


Same goes for the licensing, in OEM the permit support is offered by the computer manufacturer to the users. In Retail windows, the same is offered by Microsoft to the users.


Properly in relation to pricing, the OEM version is less costly than most Retail ones as it has no service or applications support.

That One Should You Really?

If you are an end user looking for Windows for personal use then you should go for Windows retail variation as OEM is basically meant for system contractors and manufacturers for reselling purposes.

When it comes to whether you may use OEM for private use or maybe not then there’s a whole lot of debate about this subject which is due to Microsoft’s licensing policy around usage of OEM Windows and its easy accessibility on 3rd party websites for affordable rates. It is pointed clearly within this article on ZDNet.

Well, these were a few of the basic differences between the OEM and Retail version of Windows. Aside from that, they are nearly the exact same.


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