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When upgrading a PC, when do I need a new OEM Windows license?

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When upgrading a PC, when do I need a new OEM Windows license?

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In several of the online groups and offline emails I have been seeing the question about, “When do I need a new OEM Windows license when upgrading hardware components in a PC?” once again, so I thought I would post the information here for all.

Here is the official answer directly from the OEM System Builder website:

“Generally, you may upgrade or replace all of the hardware components on your customer's computer and the end user customer may maintain the license for the original Microsoft OEM operating system software, with the exception of an upgrade or replacement of the motherboard. An upgrade of the motherboard is considered to result in a "new personal computer" to which Microsoft OEM operating system software cannot be transferred from another computer. If the motherboard is upgraded or replaced for reasons other than a defect, then a new computer has been created and the license of new operating system software is required. If the motherboard is replaced because it is defective, you do NOT need to acquire a new operating system license for the PC.”

You can view this for yourself on the OEM FAQ page by viewing the “If my customer asks me to upgrade his PC with new hardware components, when does a new operating system need to be acquired? When would the PC be considered to be "new"?” question and answer.

Generally the follow-up question is, “If I am replacing a defective motherboard, can I use any motherboard to do so or does it have to be the same? If you look at the, “What is the difference between a refurbished PC and a used PC?” question on the same page and you will see:

“If the motherboard is replaced because it is defective, you do NOT need to acquire a new operating system license for the PC. The replacement motherboard must be the same make/model or the same manufacturer's replacement/equivalent, as defined by that manufacturer's warranty.”

I hope this helps provide clarity to those questions for you.

Thank you and have a wonderful day,

Eric Ligman
Microsoft US Senior Manager
Small Business Community Engagement
This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights

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