$199.99 or $399.99

Find out what the difference is between an OEM Vista and a Full Retail Version of Vista, and how you can save up to $200 on your Windows Vista purchase.

Microsoft’s four versions of Windows Vista is enough to throw any user off but that’s only counting Microsoft’s retail version of Vista. To add even more onto this confusion, there are also OEM versions of Windows Vista being sold. In this article, we will go over the differences between the two, and help you decide if saving that $200 on your purchase of Windows Vista Ultimate is a good idea. Before we begin, what is OEM anyway?

OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer.

Usually when these three letters (or words) pop up, you think of lousy packaging, reduced service, and very limited warranties. But when you are heading out to purchase Vista, you are dealing with a new definition of OEM.

First, lets go over the most obvious difference between the OEM and Retail version of Vista – the pricing. Pricing for the OEM versions are significantly cheaper. Let’s just see how much cheaper:

Vista Home Basic OEM $99 (full version retail: $199) Savings: $100
Vista Home Premium OEM: $119 (full version retail: $239) Savings: $120
Vista Business OEM: $149 (full version retail: $299) Savings: $150
Vista Ultimate OEM: $199 (full version retail: $399) Savings: $200

Much cheaper indeed than the full retail version.

Alright, we’ve got the pricing covered. Next we need to know what we are getting for the good money that Microsoft takes from your pocket. When you buy OEM Vista, you will be getting the whole package without all the nice pamphlets, manuals (if any), and any other pieces of paper that might encourage you to buy more of Microsoft’s products.
You might ask, what about the CD itself? In most cases, the OEM version of Vista will run exactly the same with a few exceptions:

1) Variation: If the Vista is bundled with any piece of hardware or computer, it is considered OEM. An example of this would be purchasing Vista with a computer manufacturer such as Dell or having it bundled with a motherboard or something similar. In most cases, Vista has been optimized to work with those particular pieces of hardware. Regardless of the changes though, you will still be getting the real deal like everyone else.

2) Ties in with motherboard: Once you install Vista on your computer, the marriage between the two is set in stone. The OEM version of Vista will lock itself to your motherboard, meaning should you decide to upgrade later on, you would need to purchase a brand new copy of Vista. However, Microsoft does have a policy to allow motherboard swaps in the event of hardware being defective or failing, but don’t count on it as a life-saving excuse to help you. Either way, just remember your Windows Vista will be non-transferable.

3) No returns: If you opened the case, that Vista CD is yours forever.

4) No support: Remember that saying, “No man is an island”? Unfortunately that doesn’t apply when you’re dealing with Windows Vista. If you bought your Vista with a PC, most companies such as Dell do provide 24/7 support. But if you bought your OEM Vista on your own, you won’t be able to count on support because there won’t be any.

Here’s the big question: Is OEM for you? It all depends on what kind of computer user you are. Consider the following when choosing what to buyCan you fix computer problems on your own?

Are you familiar with working with computers?
Are you technologically-inclined
Do you know how to protect yourself from threats?
These are some things you should ask yourself before purchasing. Not everybody requires the 90-days support Microsoft offers. If the answer to the above questions is no, you might want to reconsider before purchasing an OEM version of Windows Vista.

Does the company selling you the OEM version offer support?
For example: Dell offers 24/7 support on its systems, regardless of the OS.

Will you be upgrading your PC in the long run:
This is probably the most important thing to remember before buying OEM Vista. It would really suck if you had to purchase Windows Vista twice. If your computer is a bit out-of-date, you might want to reconsider before purchasing OEM. What you might want to do is upgrade your PC to fit Windows Vista’s requirements before purchasing an OEM. You can find out if your PC is optimized for Vista by downloading Microsoft’s Vista Upgrade Advisor Tool here.

We’ve outlined the differences between Windows Vista OEM and Windows Vista Full Retail. Now it’s your call as to what is right for you.

Any suggestions, ideas? Feel free to comment on this article!

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