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Can you help me with my software licensing question?

I'm looking to make the move from XP to 7 and was wondering what other people have experienced. I've got about 20 desktops I need to replace as the hardware is probably insufficient for Win7.

I looked at Dell, but they don't seem to be able to sell a clean Windows install anymore - it's always full of some kind of preloaded junk I would need to uninstall. I'm not too thrilled about the process of doing 20 OS reinstalls to get it right.

But, If I have to go in that direction I might as well get no-OS PCs and volume licensing so I don't need to worry about product keys.

I had a look at the MS Volume licensing site but it seems awfully opaque. Even the "volume license calculator" doesn't seem to work, at least on my IPad this morning.

So, I'm interested in what the consensus is for the best way to buy 20 desktops.

What is less painful :

  • removing Dell's preinstalled crap
  • ... or wading through Microsoft's byzantine volume licensing?
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marked as duplicate by Sam Jan 24 '12 at 10:48

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I looked at Dell, but they don't seem to be able to sell a clean Windows install anymore - Are you looking at home / SOHO systems rather than professional ones? –  RobM Nov 19 '11 at 21:56

4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Desktop Windows licenses included in Microsoft Volume License programs are upgrade only — this basically forces you to buy PCs with preinstalled OEM versions of Windows (and no less than Professional edition — Home editions cannot be a valid base OS for these upgrades, except for educational licensing). However, if your organization already has some number of such upgrade licenses, the volume licensing agreemeent gives you so called “reimaging rights” — you can use the volume license media and keys to reinstall OS on computers which have an OEM or box license for the same OS version, edition and language.

See the volume licensing briefs documents (especially Reimaging Rights).

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'Best' for an entity of 20 desktops changes depending on a number of circumstances:

  • What industry are you in?
  • Are you a member of a larger entity?
  • What country are you in?
  • What existing Microsoft licensing agreements do you have?
  • Do you qualify for any other licensing breaks because of who you are or what you do?
  • How often are you planning on replacing desktops, every 3 years? 5? 7?

In general, if you are a non-profit, governmental or educational organization it's better to cut your own licensing deal with Microsoft than buy licenses from an OEM with hardware.

If you aren't any of those... I'm afraid you'll have to talk to the byzantines themselves and figure out between yourselves what's best.

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It's actually two separate questions one is about licensing, another is about deployment.

You can perfectly well (legally) use dell pre-installed licenses and install on those PC any windows you wish, provided it's the same version pro/ultimate/whatever (maybe lower is ok too).

For licensing I'd go the cheapest way (but keep in mind that OEM licenses go bye-bye when you replace computer, while full licenses do not).

For installation I'd prepare one image to my taste, run sysprep or whatever it called today, and copy it to all the stations with ghost or whatever free bootdisk that does hdd images.

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use the windows feature WDS (Windows deployment services)

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