Following up on my earlier post about how Dell and HP make it difficult for customers to get a real Windows CD with their new PC…
I went back and read a post I put together back in February (Everything you always wanted to know about Windows Product Activation), and found a few relevant details. If you buy a new PC with Windows preinstalled from your local white-box builder, he or she is required to give you a CD, a product key, and a certificate of authenticity. But if the PC maker is a Royalty OEM – a category that includes the 20 largest PC makers in the world, such as Dell, HP, Sony, and IBM – the requirements are different:
Royalty OEMs receive a ‘golden master’ copy of Windows from Microsoft. The royalty OEM may customize Windows as described in the OPK, their license agreement, or a signed addendum… These OEMs obtain all customized media, end-user manuals, and bulk quantities of COA stickers from MS authorized replicators.
Royalty OEMs may provide recovery media for each computer, and that media must be protected so that it can be used only on that particular computer. Both printed books and any recovery media display the OEM name and branding.
The big companies get to play by a different set of rules, and the customers sometimes come out on the short end of the stick. If you’re thinking of buying a new PC running Windows, make sure it comes with a real CD, not some bogus recovery disk or partition. The CD is a crucial troubleshooting and repair tool; when (not if) you have a disk failure or another type of emergency that requires you to repair Windows, you’ll need that CD.