lots of reviews on Amazon cite problems with legality of OEM version - is it safe to buy?


Dec 16, 2013
I'm building a PC for the first time next week (assuming all the parts arrive in time) and my last order of business is to buy the OS. I'm using XP now, have used Win7 a little bit on a laptop last year so I am a little familiar with it, but have no experience with Win8 at all. All my friends, and lots of people online, say 8 is horrible and awkward to use. Since I trust Win7 from what I've used of it I feel like I should stick with it.

Now the issue of the OEM version. From what I read either OEM or full retail will still only work on one PC at a time (how it knows this I still don't yet know), but okay, I don't really mind the OEM version will be locked to my motherboard. I have a brand new one arriving in the mail and anticipate using it for several years, so I see no reason to be concerned with being "locked in" to using it since I won't be upgraded it for a very long time, if at all. If in ~6 years I want a new one maybe Win9 will be out and I'll upgrade then anyway.

What I AM concerned about is reading several of the 1-star reviews for Win7 OEM on Amazon that say after buying the product directly from Amazon they received warnings after month of use that the product was illegal and they encountered problems. Some even suggested the discs were tampered with, product keys were missing, and one guy was out the $100 since he could not return it to Amazon and MS wouldn't help him. I do not want to be in this position. Has there been some issue going around where legit copies stop working after a month?

Also some of the reviews say the OEM is more difficult to install than the retail one. I've never installed an OS from scratch before so I want to minimize the difficulty involved. I would just as soon buy the full retail version but apparently it is entirely discontinued. I have yet to see any site that will even sell it anymore. I don't mind paying a little more if it means easier use and a little more freedom in how I can install the product. But at the moment I am apparently stuck with OEM or nothing. Thus why I am worried about how well it will function in the long-term. Or maybe it is just a problem with Amazon's stock? I read a few of the reviews for Win7 on Newegg and they didn't report any cases of illegal copies being sold from what I saw. Then again Newegg's is $10 more and doesn't come with Prime shipping. I guess I'm just a little leery buying this from Amazon now. Any advice on what to do?


Oct 3, 2013
I've only ever bought the OEM-System's builder version and it's just a simple installation.

I've heard of people receving fake products on amazon as well, and all I can say is that you have to watch who you buy from as you can choose the seller. Most of the people that received fake products probably got the product from a 3rd party vendor and not Amazon. If you are worried about a fake copy, Newegg is a good alternative.
Buy it from a legitimate reliable approved reseller like Newegg, Tigerdirect, Best Buy, etc. and you will have no problem -- the problems come with those Amazon and Ebay resellers that are taking decommisioned DELL or Toshiba etc. systems removing the OS and trying to resell it as an OEM copy of the OS and since your new MOBO does not have a DELL or Toshiba BIOS on it the OEM SLP key for that OEM will not activate without using the Telephon activation and if the old system owner ever reinstalled the OS on their DELL the product key has already been registered (most of the time those keys have not been used since the OEM preactivates using their SLP key and it is not needed but if it was ever reinstalled uusing anything other than the restore disk that key will have been used already and the MS activation server will not reactivate it leaving you out the $ you spent trying to get a cheaper copy. ) So you are taking a chance buying from those cheap resellers that the key may not activate, so have to decide if it is worth the $30 saving to buy from them rather than a legitimate reseller.

As long as you use a legitimate reseller you will not have any problem using an OEM version and getting it activated.



Your more or less correct here, but the COA key on machines from royalty OEM's always need phone activation. Early XP COA keys would activate online, but they changed that a long time ago. I don't know if they will activate SLP keys over the phone at all. I think they have you change to the COA key.

Also worth pointing out the Windows 8 OEM isn't tied to the motherboard like earlier versions. You can move it.


Correct -- which is where the problems arise for those buying them from a reseller -- If the owner of the DELL OEM (or other) Ever had to reinstall and reactivate (other than using the Recover disk that would automatically reinstall the activation status thus not requiring the COA key as it will still be using the SLP key !) they would call the phone activation line and be made to use the COA key instead of the SLP key thus the machine specific COA key would be activated on the servers and is no longer useable for another system but when the third party reseller obtains the lot of systems they do not test the keys and just assume they have never been used (since 90%+ probably have not been) and when the buyer goes to activate the activation server shows that key already used so will not activate and when you explain to a rep that you just purchased irt they will not reactivate it either since the third party reseller is breaking the EULA by selling those keys in the first place leaving you out of options (other than contacting the AMAZON reseller and hoping they're still around and will send you another key to try !)

It just is not worth the hassle to save a few $'s since those resellers usually try to get almost retail price for the keys anyway ! Best to just stick to authorized resellers that you know will not be trying to sell recycled keys in violation of MS's EULA even if it does cost a bit more !