OEM Windows 7 is the copy of Microsoft Windows 7 that comes as pre-installed on the PC (whether it is laptop or desktop) you are buying. OEM stands for Original System Manufacturer.
The cost of OEM Windows 7 is far less than the Retail copy. The reason behind it is, the PC manufacturer generally do not give you the full installation DVD and you do not have the liberty to use that copy (actually License key) of Windows 7 on other machine after completely removing the current copy; in other words, you can not transfer it to other machine.
In fact, if you upgrade Hard disk , the license becomes of no use. You have to purchase a new copy. Exempt is, hard disk failure.
You will not get any direct official support for your OEM Windows, because it was your computer manufacturer who bought the copy. How ever, you will get support in Microsoft Answers forum and from the Windows community.
You will get a sticker on the bottom of your laptop or backside in desktop:
a Windows 7 Sticker and some company may give you the repair disk, the look varies greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer:
Now, we are coming to the Retail version. They are available as box pack, with fine quality manual, a full bootable installation DVD, a license key, full professional support from Microsoft. The box really look like an asset itself:
You can install, uninstall, full format with Retail (Box Pack) of Windows as many times as you wish, you can upgrade any component or transfer it to other PC after completely removing the current copy.
Other versions of Windows 7 which are actually Retail versions are: MSDN, Technet or promotional copies. This is a box of Windows 7 party pack that was given to the Windows 7 Launch Party host:
Conclusion on Factory installed (OEM) or Retail (Box pack) Windows 7
- If you are an advanced user, will format the HDD at-least once in a year, there is chance of upgrading to a new machine and you want Windows 7 in the way Microsoft made it, go for retail copy.
- If your answer to all the criteria written above is no; go for reinstalled OEM version. In fact it will be around $50 cheaper than the retail version.
Our own view about Factory installed (OEM) or Retail (Box pack) Windows 7
Retail (Box pack) Windows 7 is better. We have never used OEM copy and never will do so. Frankly, OEM the lack of freedom in OEM copies and their pre installed bloat wares.