WinXP install on an iMac: OEM vs Full Retail Boxed versions
April 18, 2006 9:55 AM   Subscribe

I want to install WinXP on my new iMac DuoCore. Is there a difference between using an OEM install disk (legal original) and a full boxed retail install disk?

There's a big difference in price (yes, *gasp* I'm going to pay for it!), and if I can use an OEM version, I will.

Anyone had any problems (fatal problems, please, not general new-installation-type problems) installing from an OEM disk?

thanks for any insight.
posted by I, Credulous to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
When you say OEM disk, do you mean the one that might have been pre-installed/packaged with a Dell/HP/Compaq?
posted by vkxmai at 10:06 AM on April 18, 2006

posted by jjg at 10:12 AM on April 18, 2006

I installed an OEM windows CD (purchased from newegg) in my shuttle when I built it, so sure, it works just fine. Is that what you mean? Presumably your Imac is a blank slate from a bootcamp/ Windows install perspective, so I'd expect it to install perfectly normally. An iMac probably doesn't meet (not sure) the license description of new hardware without preinstalled software, but that's a different question.
posted by cairnish at 10:18 AM on April 18, 2006

the OEM licences aren't transferable, so it won't be legal
posted by bonaldi at 11:05 AM on April 18, 2006

the OEM licences aren't transferable, so it won't be legal

Not quite. If the OEM disk is sold with qualifying hardware, as designated by the manufacturer of the software, then it is legal. That's why Tigerdirect sells OEM Windows and "Ships With NON Microsoft® Internal Hardware Component Included" (quote from their site). It's probably a heat sink or something like that.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 11:10 AM on April 18, 2006

LifeHacker had a really good software posted yesterday for doing that...if I remember correctly this software was superior to bootcamp in that you run both OS's at the same time.
posted by jamie939 at 11:17 AM on April 18, 2006

explication: the OEM disks will be purchased NEW from a retailer (sounds odd, perhaps, but the retailer seems to think nothing of it), not from a previous install on any system.
posted by I, Credulous at 11:17 AM on April 18, 2006

Regarding that lifehacker software. Putting aside that it's a first release, it looks like it doesn't support 3d hardware acceleration, so if you are interested in Windows on your mac for gaming purposes, stick with Bootcamp.
posted by Good Brain at 11:51 AM on April 18, 2006

yes, david pogue's article in the NYT makes the software sound equally appealing and repulsive.

I'll wait for the full release, thanks. :)
posted by I, Credulous at 11:58 AM on April 18, 2006

I used a (legitimately purchased) OEM copy of XP on my MacBook. Works great... well... as great as Windows is capable of working ;-)

That being said, I'm not a gamer, so I haven't the foggiest clue of the video drivers are worth using yet.
posted by I Love Tacos at 12:09 PM on April 18, 2006

IANAL and I might be wrong but my understanding is that it's legal if you buy a fresh OEM copy from, say, Newegg or something and ONLY ever use it on that Macbook. If you're trying to transfer your OEM copy of Windows from, say, your old Dell to the Macbook, then yes that's illegal.
posted by Ryvar at 12:24 PM on April 18, 2006

Blessed be to I Love Tacos.

I'm not a gamer, either, and if I was, I don't think I'd be too blown away by the 20" iMac's video card spec vis 3d gaming, anyway...

thanks all, and it looks like life in both the mac and windows worlds are going to be A LOT more interesting in the coming year.

for the record, I bought the iMac now because the hardware is pretty sweet, the price is right, AND because I wouldn't have to give up a lot of windows software


posted by I, Credulous at 12:24 PM on April 18, 2006

If the OEM disk is sold with qualifying hardware, as designated by the manufacturer of the software, then it is legal.

Yes, but that's not transferring. The transfer comes when you don't use it with that hardware, you use it with some other hardware. Since you can't buy XP with Mac hardware, any use of OEM XP with it is a transfer, and therefore against the licence terms.

If you're paying, I assume you want to be legit, so whether or not it works is irrelevant.
posted by bonaldi at 1:01 PM on April 18, 2006

From's WinXP Pro SP2 OEM page:

All OEM software including the operating system is 100% non-refundable once purchased and delivered. OEM versions are intended for system builders only and cannot be transferred to another PC once it is installed. Purchasers of this software are required to comply with the terms of the System Builder License [PDF], including responsibility for providing all end-user support.

From the PDF:

1. AUTHORIZED DISTRIBUTION AND ACCEPTANCE Distribution of individual software licenses or hardware units contained in this Microsoft System Builders Pack ("package") is not authorized unless you accept this license. You accept this license when you open this package. By accepting this license you agree that you are a system builder. "System Builder" means an original equipment manufacturer, or an assembler, reassembler, or installer of software on computer systems. If you choose not to accept this license, promptly return the package to your distributor. Individual software licenses or hardware units cannot be returned after this package is opened.

4.1 We grant you a nonexclusive right to distribute an individual software license only with a fully-assembled computer system. A "fully-assembled computer system" means a computer system consisting of at least a central processing unit, a motherboard, a hard drive, a power supply, and a case.

My question is whether you genuinely qualify as a 'system builder' under the first section, and also what bearing the sixth section (the requirement that you 'preinstall' the sofware) has on this, if any. My stupid, wild-ass *guess* is that you're in the clear here, legally speaking on the assumption that you do qualify as a system builder as an installer of software and that the sixth section isn't relevant to your situation. Please note that this only applies if we're talking about a heretofore completely unused OEM copy, and not a copy from another computer you purchased back when. In any case, if you really care you need to consult a lawyer.

Oh, and as for gaming I think the 20" iMac has a Radeon x1600, which is fine for games (Oblivion might be choppy, but Half-Life 2 should be fine).
posted by Ryvar at 2:30 PM on April 18, 2006

Parallels is the software that was mentioned on LifeHacker.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:33 PM on April 18, 2006

The criticisms David Pogue's NYT article aimed at both Parallels and Bootcamp sounded like he was grasping at straws, honestly. I don't know what Pogue's background is, but as someone who's been involved with the Mac emulation community for a number of years, I wasn't impressed by his analysis of the differences between the two.

In any case, essentially Parallels sounds like it's almost there, but needs a bit more work to put it together into a solid package, as noted above. Bootcamp seems pretty solid.
posted by limeonaire at 3:26 PM on April 18, 2006

Thanks to Ryvar for doing the homework on the licensing issue.
To be honest, I was willing myself blind on potential licensing issues by telling myself, "Hey, at least I'm paying something for it!" I've been encouraged by others to "Dude, just get a torrent of the install disk and a serial from the web!" But I wanted to be "in the clear" and able to receive Service Pack 3 (for instance) when it comes out...I'd been running a bootleg copy of WinXP Pro SP1 on my old PC (for "evaluation purposes," of course) and was unable to upgrade via Windows Update to SP2 because of a policy violation :)
Secondly, and this too may be a rationalization, but the retailer I'm buying from is reputable in town, and has been in business for over a decade. He's a licensed dealer of Microsoft products, and his website boasts nearly every conceivable variation of the Windows operating system for order. I'm trusting that if he's selling an OEM version without a system, there's a valid reason for him to able to do so...

see my user name if you want to put a finer point on that second argument...
posted by I, Credulous at 6:53 AM on April 19, 2006

Oh! and David Pogue is the main author of the "Missing Manual" books.
I think his bonafides are pretty well in order...
posted by I, Credulous at 12:05 PM on April 19, 2006

Final note:
I purchased WinXP Home OEM yesterday.
The BootCamp/WinXP install went without a hitch, as I Love Tacos said it did for him.
So far I'm loving being able to run some loved and familiar apps in a new, more powerful machine.
Example: Traktion2 Multi-track DAW was running sixteen tracks of Audio with every track sporting it's own collection of fx processors, and it only used about 10% of the CPU. The same program and track running in Native Mac OS X used about 80-95% of the CPU (Rosetta being the bottleneck here -- as soon as there's a Universal Binary for Traktion2, I expect the performance to at least equal the WinXP version on the same machine.) And using my old PIII-600 machine, the CPU was humbled by this track count/processor chain.

I haven't installed Photoshop on the Windows side, yet, but I do expect to be very pleased.

Thanks again for all the input.
posted by I, Credulous at 10:00 AM on April 20, 2006

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