WinXP OEM on a Mac
November 29, 2009 8:25 AM   Subscribe

I've a WinXP Professional OEM install disc that I'd like to (and tried to) install on VMWare Fusion on my 24-inch iMac (running OS X 10.5). But so far, it's a no-go. Is there some kind of restriction on installing OEM versions of Windows in a virtual environment and/or on a Mac?

So far my Google-fu has failed me on this question, but what happens is when I get to the activation key box during install, the key is rejected as invalid. What's weird about this is that attempting to install this same XP Pro disc on an old (circa 2004-05) home-built Windows box works flawlessly.

I bought the disc on Ebay, from a seller who exchanged the first disc I bought from him (It would not load/install on any machine) with a new copy. At first I thought that I got hosed by the seller of the disc; but the subsequent ability to install on a Windows box has me wondering if the problem lies elsewhere.

I had hoped to use the WinXP install on my iMac simply for web development testing; not crazy about spending $200 for Win 7, plus another $40 to upgrade my VMware Fusion install to handle Win 7. I know I could use the old box to do the same, but space is at a premium and I was gonna wipe the old box and donate it to a local non-profit.
posted by jrchaplin to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes, an OEM disc may check that it's actually being installed on a Dell, HP, IBM, whatever. This can vary within model series from the same manufacturer too, I keep four different Dell WinXP Pro OEM ISO images on hand.
posted by thewalrus at 8:30 AM on November 29, 2009

Best answer: If you can install the image on a real box, you can use the VMware migration tool to convert that machine into a virtual machine image.
posted by chairface at 9:48 AM on November 29, 2009

Sorry, link here.
posted by chairface at 9:49 AM on November 29, 2009

*cough*Tiny XP*cough*. Software checks limiting its usage to particular hardware is bogus and evil.

You do you have a valid license, right?
posted by cmiller at 9:52 AM on November 29, 2009

If you look on the CD at the file \I386\SETUPP.INI it will contain three lines, the bottom one something like this:
That number is of the format xxxxxyyy and determines what version of the OS gets installed, and what type of license key is required. If you look at this information you should be able to figure out what sort of disk it is.

I have heard - although never tested myself - that you can copy a retail disk, changing that file while you do it, to get an OEM, corporate, or home disk.
posted by Mike1024 at 11:55 AM on November 29, 2009

An OEM installer is, you guessed it, an installer for specific hardware. Specifically the hardware that the license shipped with. To be legal, you'll need to buy a retail license, even if that will cost you money.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:16 PM on November 29, 2009

I've installed XP Professional on VirtualBox from an OEM disc. VirtualBox is free (GPL), so definitely worth a try.
posted by a little headband I put around my throat at 5:01 PM on November 29, 2009

*cough*Tiny XP*cough*.

Yeah, no. This being illegal, aside, if you're going to install a pirated copy of Windows off a torrent from The Pirate Bay, you might as well find the nearest street thugs and just hand them all your credit cards and PINs and wallet, and then insult each of their mothers and mothers' mothers so that they can take turns repeatedly punching you in the face. In other words, that's just an incredibly insane thing to do.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:37 PM on November 29, 2009

FWIW as far as Windows licensing goes, an OEM copy of Windows is tied to the hardware you installed it on, so if you installed it on your old home-built Windows box you can't legally install it on any other machines, even if you remove it from the other box first. Only retail versions of Windows are transferrable from PC to PC.
posted by reptile at 7:27 AM on November 30, 2009

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