How does Microsoft Know your using an OEM lisense for Personal Use?


Oct 29, 2014
Hello y'all. I've read on the internet that unless your using Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and 7 OEM licenses are only for "system builders"/people building PCs to sell and are illegal for personal use such as if you build a PC. Is that true? Also, afterwards how do the system builders work with Microsoft and get them to understand they are selling the PC they built with the OEM license; that they are not building it for personal use? Not trying to do anything illegal, just want to know how.
With windows 8 there is an OEM, "personal use" license. Details are here:

The relevant quote: "If you are building a computer for your personal use or installing an additional operating system in a virtual machine, you can now purchase OEM System Builder software using the Personal Use Licence... Anyone who is building a computer for personal use with Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro software can use the Personal Use Licence."

So you're covered for Win 8/8.1, but not Win 7. The nice thing about the Win 8 OEM Personal Use Licence is that it actually allows you to transfer the software to an entirely different computer, as long as it belongs to you: "You may transfer the software to another computer that belongs to you". That's really handy for regular upgraders.



Windows 7 and prior Windows operating systems had a convoluted "system builder" edition which was designed to enable OEMs such as Dell, HP, and Acer to sell affordable PCs with Windows preinstalled. A condition of this licence is that the operating system must be installed by the OEM (exceptions for Windows Server), the system must be sold to a third party, a certificate of authenticity must be attached to the system, and the licence must be transferred with the system whenever it changes ownership. These OEM licences became readily available through online marketplaces and due to their lower price point became an attractive alternative for users who wished to build their own PCs.

Microsoft realized that they couldn't do anything about the millions of users that were using OEM licences for personal use without harming their major partners and small time builders. Wanting to continue to provide incentive to use the system-locked OEM model over the unlocked retail model they added a clause to the OEM licence which enables a builder to use the OEM licence without necessitating that the system be transferred to a new owner.

Retail versions of Windows 8 can still be sold or transferred independently of any system, whereas OEM versions cannot.