Ask the Doctor: Am I An OEM?


I’m in the middle of building the Pro Gaming PC from your website ( ) and I have a question about the operating system you recommend. The Vista 64-bit Home Premium on your parts list is the system builder pack, intended for system builders only. I am a home user.

I went to Microsoft’s website and looked up the OPK preinstallation information. I have to register with my business information, of which I have none.

Should I send it back and purchase the end-user’s version? Please respond... I am on pins and needles waiting for the reply.

—Debra Hodge
Debra, you don’t have to install your OEM version of Vista using the preinstalled environment, as Microsoft suggests. Instead, you can just insert the DVD and install it as normal. The OPK method is useful for system builders who are setting up multiple PCs at once, but you don’t have to use it.
The reason OEM licenses for Vista are cheaper than retail versions is that they are tied to your specific motherboard—if you replace the motherboard, you may have to get a new Vista license. A call to Microsoft might reactivate your OS in the event of a mobo swap, but it’s by no means guaranteed.

SUBMIT YOUR QUESTION Are flames shooting out of the back of your rig? First, grab a fire extinguisher and douse the flames. Once the pyrotechnic display has fizzled, email the doctor at for advice on how to solve your technological woes.

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