Windows XP - License and Media Types

License and Media Types

There are three main types of licenses for Windows XP Professional and Professional x64: Retail, Volume (VLK), and Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). Windows XP Home Edition is limited to Retail and OEM licenses, whereas Windows XP Media Center Edition and Windows XP Tablet PC Edition are exclusively available through VLK and OEM channels.

Each type of license has a different installation CD. For customized or retail media, there is a small difference on each type of disc that will allow that installation disc to accept only one type of product key.

Only retail and volume licenses include support for end-user installation scenarios from Microsoft. OEM software is preinstalled on systems and is supported by the system manufacturer rather than Microsoft. The price of such software is lower. There are two important restrictions on OEM licenses: Microsoft does not offer technical support, and the license cannot be transferred to another computer. The cost of OEM software products bundled with systems is not disclosed by Microsoft nor by its partners, as each system manufacturer will define its own bundling price.

Microsoft recommends that system manufacturers have their systems tested, for a fee, as part of the Windows Quality Online Services (Winqual) which includes extensive testing so that no component will cause instability in the Windows operating system due to incompatibility with the Windows operating system or with other system components or their respective drivers. Having a system tested and approved will allow the manufacturer to bear the "Certified for Windows" logo sticker on the exterior of the system, and there are additional benefits for having a tested product. This includes the product's being listed on the Windows Marketplace. Because of the fees and extensive requirements, Microsoft acknowledges that smaller system manufacturers may not opt in to the program until they produce computer systems at a modest rate and on recurring designs.

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