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So we just purchased 75 new HP machines (which all come with Windows 7 Pro OEM licenses) and generally when we make an image for a machine we just use the OEM image because it's already activated and just generally easier/quicker.

We've been using Clonezilla but I want to move to WDS for faster/easier deployment. If I capture a custom image that was taken straight from an OEM activated machine and use WDS to deploy it (with an unattended file, of course), will I have any issues? My guess is I won't since it's already activated and everything but I just wanted to be sure. The unattended files I will be using will be generated using WSIM from Microsoft Volume Licensing media (generating unattended files for an OEM Windows 7 Pro machine from Microsoft Volume Licensing Windows 7 Pro media).

I'm not worried about legality and licensing because we do own and are fully licensed from Microsoft (with Microsoft Volume Licensing) for every version of Windows we deploy (and we don't just buy 1 license and, we buy 1 license for every machine we deploy), I'm just worried about it working out in a technical respect.

  • Q: will I have any issues? A: Can you be specific about what type of issues you're concerned about? – joeqwerty Jan 12 '14 at 7:05
  • @joeqwerty, I'm just concerned about activation issues once the image is restored – MisterMike Jan 12 '14 at 7:14
  • Valid question. I can see many ppl in that - been there once too. The main issue being that uless you are larger you get a OEM installed computer... and..... want to deploy a custom image with other software installed and.... then the technical problems start ;) – TomTom Jan 13 '14 at 6:29
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General advice - do not do it. Epecially if you already have VLK licenses in place. For activation, use a KMS.

OEM versions can have all kinds of miodifications and you are basically in not supported territory. I am not talking legal here - I understand your point and that makes it a valid question. But technically. Things may work or not. Dependson what modifications were done. Generally not worth the risk.... especially if you ahve the VLK side already covered and ready. Throw the OEM images out.

Given that WDS does not need drivers in the image you can just load the required drivers into the WDS driver library and the install will pick what it needs - that makes managing images a LOT less painfull than it was in the old times. THere, you may have had an advantage in admin time to pull an OEM image - now - sorry, no gain. Only unknown Pain, and that basically is for me a "do not do it" reason.

  • Thank you for actually answering my question and not berating me about the licensing that WE ALREADY OWN/PURCHASED like everyone else has been doing. Much appreciated. – MisterMike Jan 12 '14 at 18:08
  • @MisterMike You are welcome. Let me add - I stopped using OEM versions AGES ago (outside my tablet - too much pain to reinstall). THe reason is that I did get bitten by "enchancements" made by OEM's years ago repeatedly. I really am not in the mood to tell a customer to reinstall machines when we hit a brick wall with some crapshit installed by an OEM (although that has gotten a LOOOOOOT better the last years, with MS actively blocking that stuff contractually). Technically - it is not worth the potential trouble down the line. Wipe and install. As I said - no need for special images. – TomTom Jan 12 '14 at 18:18
  • Driver injection is THE best thing evre, maintaining images was a pain before that - crazy. Now that is over. – TomTom Jan 12 '14 at 18:18
  • Correct me if I'm wrong but the driver injection/management feature in WDS you're suggesting... I just download whichever drivers my image needs (if they weren't already in the image when I captured it) and attach them to the image via WDS and then WDS (or the machine itself) will pull them down and install if needed on their own when the image is being installed? Please forgive my lack of knowledge on this, I'm more of a Linux guy than a Windows guy :) – MisterMike Jan 12 '14 at 18:22
  • Not the image - attach them to WDS. No need to modify the image.... Look at the WDS menues, you can add drivers to WDS. The boot image will look to what drivers it needs. In the past you needed different image for every hardware layout, now you use the stock image and add drivers to WDS. Check technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd348456(v=ws.10).aspx. – TomTom Jan 12 '14 at 18:24
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WDS does not work with OEM licenses. This is why VLK keys are more expensive than OEM keys. If you read the fine-print in the license... technically you are not permitted to create custom images of OEM machines for mass-deployment... unless you ARE the OEM. Not only that... but you cannot use the VLK keys on OEM installs. If you're receiving an image from an OEM that is already activated... they've violated MS licence agreements for OEMs... and HP is not about to do something like that. VLK keys, on the other hand, can be pre-activated and distributed.

It sounds more like you're trying to avoid paying the M$ tax... or doing something very iffy if not outright illegal. When in doubt... contact your MS rep. (S)He'll let you know the details about licensing.

  • Like I said, we are 100% fully licensed and I could re-format a machine with one of our VLK keys/media and THEN capture the image if doing what I'm suggesting really won't work but, to save time, I was just going to use the OEM image/key. We have the licensing regardless so nothing we're doign is illegal in any form/shape/way. – MisterMike Jan 12 '14 at 7:17
  • Violating the EULA is a breach of contract. Regardless of enforceability, why would you want to go down that road? What would you do if Microsoft or the BSA were to come in and confiscate all of your IT assets because of that violation (whether or not that's actually likely)? What if someone who is privy to the violation becomes disgruntled and reports the company to the BSA or to Microsoft? – joeqwerty Jan 12 '14 at 15:56
  • I don't want to get lawyer but in most jurisdictions you would get away with a check that the damage and the number of NET unlicensed machines is exactly 0. Plus you can have the decency not to make a technical question a legal slugfest - especially given that there are technial reasons to not take the risk opf the machines being somehow - modified. Been there, done that, years ago. Never again. – TomTom Jan 12 '14 at 18:20

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