The Original Rules
Both OEMs and Microsoft currently impose certain rules that affect companies that choose to reimage an OS. These rules are as follows:

  • An OEM preload includes a license from the OEM. The license agreement is between the OEM and the customer; no agreement exists between Microsoft and the customer. (Microsoft gets its license fee from the OEM.) The OEM is responsible for support.
  • The OEM/customer agreement doesn’t permit reimaging. When the customer overwrites the preloaded OS, the terms of the agreement are nullified, and the OEM is no longer responsible for support.
  • Microsoft’s licensing rules mean the customer must purchase an upgrade license for each reimaged computer, because the image was created from an installation that a Microsoft license covered. The cost of the upgrade license depends on the company’s licensing terms. Upgrade licenses don’t include support, so Microsoft won’t support a reimaged OS.

As you can see, Microsoft receives two license payments for the OS on each reimaged computer: one from the OEM and one from the customer. In addition, the customer has no place to turn for support for reimaged OS installations and might be forced pay Microsoft hundreds of dollars per support instance in the event of a problem.

The New Rules
The new rules waive the upgrade license fee for customers who purchase Select License 6.0 or Enterprise Agreement 6.0 licensing agreements. Other customers still must pay for the privilege of reimaging. Support from Microsoft is available if you add the reimaged computers to your support contract. For more information about these new rules, see http://www.microsoft.com/business/downloads/licensing/reimaging113001.doc.