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  • 13Gigatons - Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - link

    When asked about this Microsoft said most people would end up installing the wrong version so this file forced them to install the version they actually bought. Reply
  • mrSHEiK124 - Sunday, August 23, 2009 - link

    I can't believe anyone is actually defending Microsoft's decision and calling everyone a pirate.

    When someone with a Dell running Windows XP asks me to reformat their computer, I need a DELL Windows XP CD. When someone with an HP needs a reformat, I need an HP CD. That was ridiculous and annoying.

    It was of very little inconvenience to Microsoft (and EXTREMELY convenient for consumers) to just have the Vista CD "work." I put in a Dell Vista Home Premium CD key, it installs Vista Home Premium OEM, and so on, so forth.

    This is a damn shame, and anyone who thinks otherwise is an idiot.
  • cvt - Saturday, August 15, 2009 - link

    Wow, the arrogence and inexperience of the people leaving comments is bewildering.

    This is terrible, I only fill in IT when the main man is away.
    The combination of 2 or 3 different companies OEM's, VLK and Retail makes XP a nightmare.
    If you don't understand the pain caused by these multiple disks, you are the one that is blind and has an issue.
    Piracy is EASIER than keeping it genuine, unfortunately, companies like to keep it genuine. Fine for Vista, but almost no-one uses it.
    1 disk for all doesn't encourage piracy, quite the opposite, and piracy isn't the right word either, liscenced machine, non-genuine key. Simply to eliminate the nightmares.
    The real world isn't as simple as your 2 computer lifes.
  • Codesmith - Thursday, August 20, 2009 - link

    I keep two install CDs ... Home/PRO.
    I use nlite to setup an unattneded install.
    I use driverpacks to integrate the latest drivers.

    A quick edit to the unattended install file and I have the right CD-KEY, and a bunch of other settings.

    A quick edit to another file and I decide if its OEM, Retail ....

    Finally if its a Royalty OEM that uses SLP volume keys ... well I ignore the key on the sticker, that's not the real key.

    I use the appropriate volume SLP Key ... they are tied to the version of windows not to the manufacturer ...

    I then download the OEMBIOS files for the manufacturer.

    OEM's like Dell get to use the same CD-KEY for all their systems, they also get to skip activation and instead use system locked preactivation.

    SLP compares the encrypted information stored in the OEMBIOS with the BIOS on the motherboard. If you use DELL OEMBIOS on a Dell motherboard it will match and XP will accept the SLP volume key and the system will be automatically activated and remain activated as long as you don't switch motherboards.

    So basically I created a Dell Install Disc but without any of Dell's Crapware.

    Actually you can cheat and just create discs for One OEM then switch out the OEMBIOS files in safe mode.

    Anyway all this is rather hard to figure out and setup, but when you do it you can quickly create a custom install CD that will meet your needs.

    Vista was a step forward with its unified discs.

    Looks like Windows 7 Wants to be a step back. If they wanted to simply things for the typical users but keep the repair geeks happy ... they should have let you override the version choice by pressing an F key or something.

  • Codesmith - Thursday, August 20, 2009 - link

    PS since you are using the same CD Key and same system locked pre activation method as the manufacturer ... it automatically activates and always stays activated .. no calls to Microsoft ever.

    This is far better than a pirated copy for a legitimate machine. You will have to use various hacks to get it activated and to get it to validate. Those hacks will get out of date or be undone by a update.

    Its best to create your own install disc that works just like the manufacturers disc only no crapware.

  • Talys - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    First, reasons for single disc: subscribers to MSDN/Technet or any of the other channels that receive download media from MS have a zillion versions to download.

    Even on a very fast connection, downloading all the various versions in 32 and 64 bit is excruciating. That's Starter, Home, Premium, Pro, Ultimate, Enterprise -- in 32 and 64 bit, or 12 DVD size images. Even if you don't use them all, you'll probably download at least 5 or 6 images.

    Plus, I like to have in my CD wallet that I carry around as few discs as possible.

    That being said, I think a "thank you" is in order to the author for pointing out the "fix" -- at least as it pertains to the retail (non-Enterprise) SKUs. Making a bootable DVD isn't THAT difficult. If you have one of the subscription services from Microsoft, AND you are interested in a single-boot disc, AND you're reading this website, you can surely figure out how to make a bootable DVD. If not, you probably need to find a new job. ;)

    So, anyhow, thank you :)
  • Beerpocalypse - Friday, August 14, 2009 - link

    The thing I hated the most about XP was the fact that you had to call their support line to activate your copy after you reach the max limit of installs with your CD key. They try to get you to spend even more money on top of what you paid by pushing revalidation on you just for the convenience of not having to talk to someone in India on the microsoft hotline for 20 minutes about a stupid serial number. :( Reply
  • LuxZg - Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - link

    There is more to this than just this ei.cfg file.

    I have Ultimate (retail) and Enterprise (OEM) ISO images on my disc, directly from MSDN. Interesting enough, they are 100MB different in size, even though both are 64bit. How come?


    ei.cfg containing this


    ei.cfg contains this

    next up we have install.wim file, which is 2.760.348.780 in Enterprise, while it's 2.860.840.523 in Ultimate ISO image.

    Than we have one huge and obvious difference - Ultimate has 4 install_*.clg files for Home Basic, Premium, Professional, and Ultimate.
    Enterprise ISO contains only ONE file -> "install_Windows 7 ENTERPRISE.clg"

    And finally, we have product.ini in both ISO files, but they are also slightly different in size. Difference is in the last line which is...

    in Ultimate:

    in Enterprise

    So while deleting ei.cfg maybe "unlocks" DVD for using it with Basic/Premium/Pro/Ultimate, it's possible that it can't be used for Enterprise installs.

    Also it and seems that Starter is missing as well, but ofcourse I've got 64bit ISOs (and Starter is 32bit only), so I don't know if 32bit ISOs have same "catch".

    Also, if you go to MSDN you'll notice separate ISO images for EVERY Win7 edition.
    64 bit versions are all 3,075.30 (MB), except Ent. which is 2,976.62 (MB).
    Similary, 32bit Ent edition is 2,289.20 (MB), while all others are 2,385.99 (MB) - including Starter.

    I'm not downloading them all just to see if they all follow the same routine, but according to all this, I'd say you can make a "One disc" for all versions EXCEPT Enterprise - that one would have to be separate.
    Why is this different I don't know, and I'm not investigating further. But while several differences I've mentioned are easy to explain (small text/EULA differences and such), I can't think of a good enough reason for Enterprise install.wim file being that much smaller than "all others" install.wim file.. I'll leave further investigation to you folks :)


    P.S. And why does products.ini seem to contain product keys for dozens of MS software listed inside is beyond me :D
  • dagamer34 - Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - link

    I'm pretty sure it's designed to prevent people from installing higher versions when their key is for something lower. There isn't a way to "downgrade" an install of Windows 7 Ultimate to say Professional or Home Premium. Reply
  • MeStinkBAD - Saturday, August 15, 2009 - link

    Why does Windows have separate installs to begin with? It does not benefit anyone. Period. Oh sure a home user may not use it the same way an enterprise user would. But that does not explain why separate versions of the exact same operating system need to be sold w/ different user agreements.
  • Jalek99 - Tuesday, August 11, 2009 - link

    So again it will make things easier if legit users find the pirated versions the kiddies are playing with if they don't want to call MS all the time? I have the disks I started with and still have trouble getting it to work. Install the corporate versions with the leaked numbers or the slimmed down versions and there are no activation issues at all. I have an unused MSDN license as well, so pirating it isn't the issue, legitimate use being a PITA is.

    I mean, tweak bus speed and if windows comes up unstable so a device driver crashes, windows blows away the activation like it's on new hardware. Do that a few times, like when changing RAM or other hardware, and it gets pretty old putting in that number over and over, hoping the cell phone doesn't drop a digit. Still takes me a couple of tries to get the stupid activation reset.
  • Sarcoptic - Monday, August 10, 2009 - link

    The real fun is making an x86/x64 all in one disc :) WAIK is a very handy tool for that. Reply
  • Sabresiberian - Monday, August 10, 2009 - link

    IMO there should only be 1 version, anyway. It's not like we need to save hard drive space these days - and if you do then make it easy to un-install what you don't use.

    Point of that is that lesser versions (Vista is the glaring example) tend to mean a lesser quality product, not just a product with less features.

  • BikeDude - Monday, August 10, 2009 - link

    W7 is broken! I'm staying with Vista!

    Nah, seriously, I'll probably switch. I suspect most builders out there will want USB flash with W7 on it, so this issue will hopefully disappear. My next laptop is likely DVD-less, so a flash memory installer is going to be vital. (sigh... buying a laptop w/4GB memory and a 32-bit OS? briliant.)
  • Montreal Techman - Sunday, August 09, 2009 - link

    I'm a tech and I service both companies and home users. It would be much more practical if MS were to at the least offer a one disc solution to oems so that we would not have to keep multiple versions of discs on hand for service and installation purposes. They do this for Office 2007 and maybe they will for 7 as well.

    As far as small companies running different versions on their various systems, if they do that it is their own fault. Most small companies have a tech company that takes care of things and they should make sure that all the systems are on an even playing field.

    Anyways, I discovered this when I had downloaded the 7 Pro from Technet and tried to install it with the Ultimate key and it wouldn't take it. Now that I know the cause, I'm in the process of making my own install disc minus the file in question.

    But overall, 7 is definitely worth it. Runs great even on older hardware and I'm looking forward to a lot of upgrades in the months following it's official release!
  • gochichi - Sunday, August 09, 2009 - link

    Well, Microsoft is always wrong I guess.

    I cannot think of a less important issue than whether all versions come in one disk or not.

    The ridiculously priced Retail copies are the only ones affected. The main issue, as far as any reasonable human being has experienced is the trouble of not having the option to install 32-bit and 64-bit from the same disk. That issue continues.

    But I can't see anything more self explanatory than having a clearly labeled disk for the product you just paid money for.

    Wish there wasn't a 32-bit Windows 7 but we all have our wish-lists I guess. At least I predict that the 32-bit version will be the less preferred version.

    Windows 7 is going to be great, and I say that not because I've done beta testing... I say that because Vista is already very good.

    I guess this post is ironic, because surely it's even more boring than the article... When an operating system is intended to cover so many different niches someone will always be displeased.

    I think that simplifying the situation for the casual user (one product- one specific disk) is a very sound decision. Maybe you think it's stupid that I wish the 32-bit version of Windows 7 didn't exist (and you're right to think that by the way) and it's just another example of how when you service so many people you can't please them all.

  • MaxMax - Thursday, August 13, 2009 - link

    So Microsoft will apply this method so we can't get all the versions in one DVD !!

    I remember 5 days ago I struggled with a copy I downloaded from MSDN it was "Windows 7 Ultimate" so I burned the DVD and boom installer automatically select Ultimate !!

    I set around 2 hours trying to figure out which file is responsible for this automatic selection..

    I put My Windows Vista DVD and start to compare files and after 2 hours I found file called "ei.cfg" in Windows 7 DVD it was the brain for the automatic version selection !!

    I made an ISO Image of Windows 7 DVD I deleted "ei.cfg" burn it again and SURPRISE !! all versions appeared just like windows Vista !!

    I talked to much eeh ?! ;)
  • taltamir - Sunday, August 09, 2009 - link

    Most families i know today have one computer per PERSON in the family. That is 5 computers for 5 people.
    Installing service packs degrades the quality of your OS, it is better to do a clean format with the SP integrated.
    Most tech guys have friends and family outside their own home whose computers they treat.
    It is worse for a small time computer repairman.

    I have LEGIT UNCRACKED copies of every flavor of XP and windows with me which I routinely upgrade to latest SP to install for people using their legit key. If you use cracks, you just install the latest 64bit windows vista autocracking disk, but if you want to be legit you are saddled with a dozen disks? this really sucks.

    I think I can see one reason for it though... people can install a TRIAL version of the wrong kind and then they cannot activate it with their key (ex: installed win7 ultimate trial, have a win7 home key)

    The solution of course, is to make the disk be TRIAL SPECIFIC, but allow you to install whatever you want with whatever key.

    EX: a Home Premium disk would ONLY install the home premium trial, but if you put in a key for ultimate, it will install ultimate instead.
  • taltamir - Sunday, August 09, 2009 - link

    oh, and I forgot SMALL BUSINESSES with dozens of different computers running different OS versions Reply
  • swaaye - Saturday, August 08, 2009 - link

    Yeah it's dumb of MS to do this, but at least it's rather easy to fix. I'm sure there will be a zillion guides in no time. Reply
  • Jovec - Saturday, August 08, 2009 - link

    I'm sure this decision comes from Microsoft's Vista experience of users not entering their key during setup, choosing the wrong version, and then being forced to either reinstall the correct one when they try to activate or upgrade to Ultimate to keep their installation.

  • jigglywiggly - Saturday, August 08, 2009 - link

    I got my Windows 7 disc just today from Technet! Such a money saver, I have server 2k3 enterprise, 2k8 enterprise, r2 as well, so many pcs with office 2007 on them... Yeah I love technet. I get my server 2008 r2 on August 14nth as well. Reply
  • mmatis - Friday, August 07, 2009 - link

    a good reason to not install Windows 7. Continue to ride out with XP, and transition over to Linux instead. Reply
  • larson0699 - Sunday, August 09, 2009 - link


    Get real. I nLited XP just the way I want it, but even I'm upgrading to 7. Which version I install is the least of my concerns; there is every reason to use the new system.

    And dude, this article was about how to get the old unified installer back, which anyone with an imaging program and DVD burner can manage. It's worth the extra half a minute IMO. You should try 7 before you settle on the idea that Linux has all your bases covered. Myself, I'm trying to switch from Linux to BSD, though I dislike having to learn new commands. Realistically, I may well end up using both in virtual machines through Windows 7.
  • overcast - Friday, August 07, 2009 - link

    Buahahahah Linux. Give me a break, you people have been saying Linux is going to take over the desktop for the past 20 years. Give it up, it's no where near user friendly, nor does it have the developer/application/game support.

  • daniel142005 - Saturday, August 08, 2009 - link

    The above poster is right. Seriously though, your using this as an excuse to not use Windows 7? Well first, XP is worse... considering you will have to have multiple disks for multiple versions anyway. As for Linux, it's at least 5 times more complicated to get linux installed and ready to do what you want (assuming you do more than just browse the web).

    This change makes PERFECT sense. When you buy the ultimate disk, you should have to install ultimate. However, the tech savvy users that actually need a disk that can install everything can still get one (and it wouldn't surprise me if they made a version downloadable for msdn customers).
  • mmatis - Sunday, August 09, 2009 - link

    I've already got enough XP discs to install whatever works with the key that my "user" has. When they hose their system with Online Poker or Free Pron or... and ask me to fix it, if they've got a legal key I've got a way to install XP. And XP works fine for most of what they want to do. And quite frankly, Ubuntu also works fine and installs VERY easily on every system I've had to mess with. Which is why I usually give them a dual-boot X and Linux. Can I make up a Windows 7 "install anything" disk? Probably. And I may end up doing that around the time Micro$oft drops SP1 for it. But I sure ain't gonna be looking forward to kissing $teve'$ butt for the opportunity to do it. Reply
  • mmatis - Sunday, August 09, 2009 - link

    Furthermore, I haven't reinstalled Office on any of these machines in the last 3 years, and have gotten no complaints about that. OpenOffice seems to keep the users quire happy as long as you set it to default to Office formats. They can read and write everything they want, and their friends have no problem reading and writing to files they send out. Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Friday, August 07, 2009 - link

    Seriously? Reply
  • Chlorus - Friday, August 07, 2009 - link

    I work at a university help desk - people need their OS reinstalled all the time. However, a large portion of those people have their keys, but are missing their disks or have damaged recovery partition. It is a nightmare, since OEM and VLK discs are constantly mixed up or are missing. This was not a problem with Vista, but it looks like MS has decided that Vista's system was too convenient.

    Now we're back to that wonderful system - going to be fun explaining this mess to clients.
  • Penti - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    They where not allowed to have their OS installed in the first place. Send them to the OEMs...

    When it comes to university computers or companies machines just get a damn volume license.
  • jconan - Saturday, August 08, 2009 - link

    if M$ gets the message they may revert to a one disc system. I wonder if this has anything to do with the cracked OEM keys from Lenovo and that's why M$ is reverting back to XP installation system. Reply
  • Wonga - Friday, August 07, 2009 - link

    I'm confused here. People are talking about the Vista disks offering people the choice of different Vista versions when they put a 'One Disk' in. From what I remember, this isn't the case - you put in the product key and it picks the one and only correct Vista version for you.

    So... as the author says, this is a step back, no benefits.
  • Sharpie - Friday, August 07, 2009 - link

    There was an option to install Vista w/o entering a key too, then you would have been able to pick the different choices they are talking about. but you are correct, if you enter the key its a non issue. Reply
  • cboath - Friday, August 07, 2009 - link

    Many companies use this approach.

    For example, the vast majority of Autodesk products - like AutoCAD, use a single disk. Whether that disk time limited, a trial, student version, commercial version, stand alone, network, etc., it's keyed off the serial number. Granted it's a licensing issue and not a feature issue, but as long as the CD-Key for the Win7 install is entered before the installation of the version's 'feature set', it should be a piece of cake.

    Not to mention it's easier and cheaper to burn all identical disks than it is to burn 10 different versions. Especially when the only difference is a 50k file.

    I mean, as it is, the installer already knows if your CD Key is for Windows Professional, Premium, or Ultimate. Pop in a Home Premium disk that's got this limit on it and key in an ultimate CD Key, it won't work. It'll have to be a Home Premium Key to work.

    If you've ever had to manage multiple machines, the One disk policy is the only way to go.
  • DigitalFreak - Friday, August 07, 2009 - link

    Except that the installer no longer prompts for a key during install. Maybe it does if you delete the config file, but not by default. Reply
  • jmke - Friday, August 07, 2009 - link

    If you buy Windows Home Premium, plop in the disc, you're expected to install... Home Premium, so the installer does just that
    if you buy Windows Ultimate, plop in the disc, you're expected to install... Ultimate, so the installer does just that

    it doesn't change the outcome; what user would buy Home version, choose Ultimate from the installation list and then get stuck with a trial period because he has the activation key for the Home edition...
  • Mr Perfect - Friday, August 07, 2009 - link

    From my experience, the Vista "One Disks" do not ask you what to install. If you type in a retail Ultimate key, it installs Ultimate, type in an OEM Business key, and you get Business. There's no room for confusion, just convenience. Reply
  • AmishElvis - Friday, August 07, 2009 - link

    I suspect this will matter a lot more to people who work for tech review websites and have to keep track of dozens of windows licenses than the average system modder who buys a new OEM windows disk every 2 years. Reply
  • ilkhan - Friday, August 07, 2009 - link

    yep. And those people are savvy enough to install from USB AND to delete the ei.cfg file to make a single all version installer.

    Or bit-bit copy to a -RW disc and then erase the offending file.
  • straubs - Friday, August 07, 2009 - link

    Please stop apologizing for Microsoft taking a backwards step here. What exactly is gained by making anyone have to jump through this unnecessary hoop?

    You could argue that anyone upgrading a Windows OS instead of buying a new computer is already somewhat of a tech-literate person and shouldn't get confused by the simple option of choosing which edition to install.
  • Casper42 - Friday, August 07, 2009 - link

    I wouldn't make that argument at all.

    I think they are doing it the right way when it comes to COTS.

    For a Retail Product that comes boxed and as was said earlier, the user is expecting a certain version, why not just install that version?

    I would expect however that MS would omit the file for MSDN/Technet ISO downloads because those are the truly technical people who know how to pick what version they want.

    @RYAN - Can you use a Windows 7 "One Disc" and check the install sequence of CD Key vs Version prompt?
    In other words, are you prompted for the key first still?
    And then if so, enter your Key for your Ultimate version and see if you are still prompted for which version or not.

    The other interesting test would be to grab a Vista OneDisc and ADD the file mentioned in the post and see if it has any effect.
  • erple2 - Friday, August 07, 2009 - link

    Perhaps what they should have done instead was still pop up the installer picker, but have the default set to whatever the disk was intended to ship with. That way, the tech savvy can now pick the appropriate install.

    Or, enter the key first, and let the key then determine which one is the appropriate version to install (assuming that's how the keys work).
  • CSMR - Saturday, August 08, 2009 - link

    Yes, that would make the most sense. Reply
  • eggythetech - Friday, August 07, 2009 - link

    Thought this might interest you the File sizes of the 32bit and the 64Bit win7 download from MS Volume Licensing. I don't know Why the sizes are different for the 64bit.

    SW DVD5 Win Pro 7 32BIT English Full MLF X15-71033 2289 MB ISO
    SW DVD5 Win Pro 7 32BIT English Upg MLF X15-73572 2289 MB ISO

    SW DVD5 Win Pro 7 64BIT English Full MLF X15-71037 2976 MB ISO
    SW DVD5 Win Pro 7 64BIT English Upg MLF X15-73888 2975 MB ISO
  • solidsnake1298 - Friday, August 07, 2009 - link

    64bit system dll's are significantly larger than 32bit dll's. That is why the system requirements for 64bit versions of Windows Vista and 7 are higher in the memory department. For Windows 7, the minimum memory requirement is 1GB for the 32bit version and 2GB for the 64bit version. The same applies for hard drive space. 32bit Windows 7 requires 16GB while the 64bit version requires 20GB. Reply
  • Casper42 - Friday, August 07, 2009 - link

    Great explanation, except you missed the point.

    Looking at JUST the 64bit installers, one of them is 1MB bigger than the other.

    However looking at JUST the 32bit ones, they are the same size.
  • HollyDOL - Saturday, August 08, 2009 - link

    Well, they don't have to be same size. Don't forget the size of MB is 1,048,576 Bytes... using rounding you can easily hide 400kB file...

    let's say full 32 bit version is 2289.4 MB
    upgrade 32 bit version is 2289.1 MB
    ... rounded to MB... both are 2289MB

    now 64bit version
    full... 2975.6 MB
    retail... 2975.3 MB
    rounded and you get full having 2976 and retail 2975MB.

    Unless we know the size in Bytes there is no way telling whether 64bit version is in this point of view any different from 32bit.
  • jsedlak - Friday, August 07, 2009 - link

    How else would the disc know what version you were installing?

    Perhaps they are using it to easily remove the confusion of a "Select version" screen. Although they could probably have users enter the key and then give them a list of options with the highest possible being default selected.
  • Griswold - Saturday, August 08, 2009 - link

    The disc doesnt need to know. The license key should determine the version. Vista has been doing it and it works fine, why change it again? Reply
  • cjb110 - Friday, August 07, 2009 - link

    Exactly, why can't the key determine the version?

    But then, the multiple versions are daft anyways, in this respect I think Apple's policy is the best, two versions of the OS, server and everything else. With a cheap, ie 'really a no brainer' type, of price for upgrades.
  • KissMyWookie - Thursday, August 27, 2009 - link

    On the face of it, Apple's OS appears cheap ... but when you take into account the fact that you're basically paying for service packs, it works out to the same price. (Not to mention, they subsidize the cost of the OS with inflated hardware prices). Reply
  • Penti - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    That's pretty much moot though as you only paid $29 ($25 on Amazon) for Snow Leopard upgrade, much smoother then the previous Leopard upgrade. New versions also just comes out every two years. That's pretty much the release schedule MS is on right now. That's not too bad. (I would have bought it if I had a Mac.) $49 ($39 Amazon) dollars for the family pack upgrade. Of course a temporary rebated price, but it includes macs that are several years old, not just the coupon thing MS does for Vista right now. Reply
  • rosewood - Friday, August 07, 2009 - link

    Delete /Sources/ei.cfg and watch your choices come back. Reply
  • masteryoda34 - Friday, August 07, 2009 - link

    Yes. If you are a tech-savy user and you want an All-in-one DVD, then use a program like UltraISO and just delete the ei.cfg file from the image before burning to disc. Then your Win7 disc will work just like it used to in Vista, with all versions available. Reply
  • winterspan - Monday, August 10, 2009 - link

    Did you read the article? He explicitly says that doesn't work; the removal of the CFG file will render the ISO unbootable. Reply
  • masteryoda34 - Sunday, August 16, 2009 - link

    Did you try doing it with an ISO editing program like UltraISO? Because I did, and it definitely worked just fine. Reply
  • CSMR - Friday, August 07, 2009 - link

    I don't really see where this is an inconvenience.
    Why would you need a single disc to install multiple versions of Windows? If you need to use 2 versions, you can use 2 discs; is there a problem?
  • nilepez - Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - link

    The main inconvenience is that you'd need multiple disks if you have multiple installs with different versions of the OS.

    With vista, if I have Business on one machine and Home Premium on another, I can order a single 64bit disk (or sp2 disk) from MS for 10 bucks (give or take) and I can use it for both installations. That's definitely a nice perk.

    I'm not clear why MS changed this, especially since it appears that the installations are identical (e.g. home premium has the bit locker features installed, but not activated).

    This approach is similar to what telecom equipment companies do...they sell you their switch OS with all the features, but only the ones you paid for are accessible.

  • winterspan - Monday, August 10, 2009 - link

    Apparently this group of MS fanboys are in their parents basement all day with one PC and never have to (re)install Windows on clients/friends/families PCs. What a NIGHTMARE this will be unless it is simple to make a boot disc. Reply
  • chrnochime - Monday, August 10, 2009 - link

    Yay Fanboys LOL

    Just had to do that once haha
  • AbRASiON - Saturday, August 08, 2009 - link

    Really? Really?
    You don't see a problem? How long have you been building machines or in IT? This is Anandtech, half the people here re-build their machines every 3 or 6 months and build family and friend computers all the time.

    You don't see a problem?... ok
  • redrumkev - Tuesday, August 18, 2009 - link

    I wish there was a similar disk (or web site) you could get into that had all the drivers. Then I would just need the one windows disk to get their systems up, and one site to download all the drivers. Then a quick hit of firefox, winamp, etc., and their system build/re-build is done. I could do it in an afternoon at their place, rather then hours of frustration trying to find the right disk(s) to even get started!

  • zebrax2 - Friday, August 07, 2009 - link

    It's easier to fix things when all you need is a single thing. eg. i have a cousin that need his windows reinstalled but he lost his disk but fortunately he kept the serial and since i still have my disk i could easily install windows to his computer using his key even though we may have different version of windows (easier than getting another disk). Reply
  • CSMR - Saturday, August 08, 2009 - link

    Thanks, I see the advantage for other people's machines. And OEM machines that often don't come with a disc. Reply
  • Finally - Saturday, August 08, 2009 - link

    I love it when the highly hypothetically what-if-case takes half a page before it is unrolled.. seriously, if you really bought it, you make sure you keep it somewhere safe. If you just have some pirated copy, burned to a shabby DVD-R, I can understand you don't watch out for it, hence the "inconvenience".. Reply
  • Jedi2155 - Saturday, August 08, 2009 - link

    That maybe true if all you fix is your own stuff, but when you have family and friends who aren't as good asking you for help, you wish Microsoft didn't do such a thing... Reply
  • redrumkev - Tuesday, August 18, 2009 - link

    Exactly, most "bad computer users" have never experienced the things we have 100's of times. So they throw these things away.

    Actually - how many people on here "toss the instructions" because "they don't need them". A lot of users do the same thing with the disks, or at least they put them back into the "original box" which in a few months gets in the way and then goes to the trash.
  • sprockkets - Saturday, August 08, 2009 - link

    Best part is I used a retail disc and it took an OEM key, though I had to activate it the long way. Reply
  • Etern205 - Saturday, August 08, 2009 - link

    Not only that, I used a OEM disc, took a retail key and it activates.
    Looks like Vista disc has no difference between OEM and retail.
  • IKeelU - Friday, August 07, 2009 - link

    Are your copies supposed to be identical to the COTS discs? Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Friday, August 07, 2009 - link

    Yes. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - link

    So what is the problem here ? You're worried that now instead of having a single disk for all installs, now you need a disk for each installed version ?

    Or maybe you're more worried about the fact that your "one disk to rule them all" will no longer work with that key pirated around on the internet in form of a text file ?

    Seriously guy, I have seen *you* make much bigger mistakes than this; if in fact someone even considers this a mistake. When you buy a copy of a Microsoft operating system, everyone knows that you're not really purchasing the software, but the key/license to use that OS. Technically, you, I and every other regular joe can NOT just buy the key, and use it with any ole install media. That is reserved for large vendors, or perhaps large customers who usually pay someone else ( probably a Microsoft partner ) to install thousands of copies; and it is up to these partners to pass on the savings or not.

    In the latter case, your point is moot, and this is the only real situation I can see your point would be valid. So again, I have to ask; What is the problem ? You buy a licenses/key, it comes with media that is supposed to work with it. Maybe you were hoping to install the same copy for which you only have one legal license for ? If you have a *need* for this type of thing, perhaps you should contact Microsoft for a means to do what you need; Legally.

    Now, if this bothers you that much, there are plenty of "free" Operating systems out there that I am sure you will be happy playing around with. Whats that you say ? Most current game titles wont run on Linux, BSD, OpenSolaris, BEOS . . . ? You cutting edge technology hardware has no driver modules in those given OS's ?

    Maybe your problem is not that bad after all eh ? Perhaps you should be whining the the OSS's ear as well ? Oh, right, I forgot. You had to pay for that Microsoft operating system, and they held a gun to your head as well I suppose ?

    Seriously . . .
  • perral1 - Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - link

    You aren't very smart are you? You can't see outside your narrow, pathetic worldview to consider that other people might have legitimate reasons for wanting this? Let's jump to the pointing-fingers-piracy conclusion why don't we, since clearly if you don't need it, no one else does?

    Let me just give you one example: let's say you have family (questionable). Let's say you're decent with computers (ditto). Let's say much of your family isn't. You will probably be asked to fix said family's computers. A lot. Many OEM computers do not include installation media. Other times, it'll be lost. Windows installs are often ruined by various malware, poor practices, etc. Sure, sometimes they can be fixed, but sometimes they just really need to be wiped clean. Guess what you can do? Well, with Vista, just grab your own (Retail, Ultimate) disk and go use the (OEM, Home Premium) key from the back of their computer and bam. You're done.

    You even prove everyone's point when you say "When you buy a copy of a Microsoft operating system, everyone knows that you're not really purchasing the software, but the key/license to use that OS." Exactly. So why does the media matter, and why does it have to be restricted to the license you bought?

    Sorry for being offensive but...well, you were too.
  • EveningStarNM - Tuesday, November 17, 2009 - link

    Yes, his criticism of your arguments were penetrating and he employed some (rather artful) sarcasm. That is always a fair tool in debate. But he stuck to the logic of the argument. You, on the other hand, descended to insults unprovoked. You lose my respect when you use ad hominem attacks, and when you focus on personality above principle. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, August 18, 2009 - link

    "You even prove everyone's point when you say "When you buy a copy of a Microsoft operating system, everyone knows that you're not really purchasing the software, but the key/license to use that OS." Exactly. So why does the media matter, and why does it have to be restricted to the license you bought? "

    Sorry, I missed this part and did not really address it.

    Do you know the differences between OEM bulk licenses, the OEM licenses, and retail copies of media ? Just a small part of these licenses is bulk; no media, OEM; one time non transferable install only. Retail; Unlimited install, one machine at a time only. There are other things for each type listed in the EULA . If you install a different media for a machine, that renders your license void. It does not matter if both media types are the same or not, but how the media was licensed,to whom, and whether or not the media is transferable or not.

    Typical examples of a lot of people breaking the law, is using an OEM copy install on the same machine more than once, on multiple machines one copy at a time, Or giving a computer to another party with an OEM copy installed on it. Whether this is right or wrong in your view, or mine is irrelevant. It *is* technically illegal. Whether Microsoft actually pursues these issues on an individual scale is entirely up to them. And no, they often do not.

    Now, notice that I did not use any "finger pointing" or "name calling" while addressing your post.
  • fincrisp - Wednesday, August 19, 2009 - link

    Just one correction to your point. You apparantly are mixing up the two types of OEM versions of Windows. 1) OEM Bulk (as you mentioned) 2) OEM for distribution. Now the differences....OEM Bulk, no tie to actually media, the OEM, ie Dell, HP, Acer, Sony, etc. Receives one copy of Windows and then pays for each key distributed, (very cheap). If you notice none of the manufatures include discs anymore, but the recepient is allowed to make as many copies as they want, but is tied to the one computer. Therefore there is NO tie to a disc. The second, OEM for distribution, IS tied to a disc and there fore is more expensive than the first, this copy is allowed to be installed on as many computers as you like, as long as it is not installed on more than one at a time. There fore the license is technically transferable, but the transfer MUST be tied to hardware. You can buy OEM versions from anyone on the internet, usally sells for 1/2 the price of the Retail version, Microsoft just requires that something hardware wise must be purchased with it...hard drive, motherboard, cpu, power supply, etc. So to sum up, yes you are correct and you are wrong it depends on the type of license, if it is an OEM bulk, which is what the computer MFG's generally use, then yes you can install from one of your discs and use the license to complete the install. If the license is from a OEM for distribution, then no its not legal. Reply
  • Penti - Saturday, September 12, 2009 - link

    Your confusing it, It's the system builder (OEM) that buys the right to use a custom image (Windows OEM Preinstallation Kit or OPK) to install the OS, not the consumers who get this right.

    There is also no OEM version for "distribution" it's meant for small system builders (which makes it meaningless for enthusiasts you really need retail when building your own PC you can't act as your own system builder as you don't resell the system and can't offer required services to do so). The end-user license is the same. If you refurbish a PC other rules applies, you have to relicense the system if there's no disc or if you upgrade the motherboard (then it becomes a new computer, for end users that means retail again). Microsoft has pretty much removed any incentive to refurbish or sell used PC, or buying them. If you buy a PC with only a COA and no media your running a unlicensed OS if you install Windows from another media. And a retail license cost's as much as a used PC.
  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, August 18, 2009 - link

    There is one problem with your "family" view. Using your own media as such is not technically legal. There is a reason why OEMs do not pay what you and most everyone else pays for licences. Actually, there are two,and a possibility for a third. First reason would be the obvious lack of media distributed with the licences. Second would be because large OEMs are definitely Microsoft partners that distribute the various OS's in bulk. The third *possible* reason would be all the media that comes preinstalled on a given copy of an Operating system distributed by the OEM. These companies who make this software are very likely partners as well. Not to just Microsoft, but to the OEMs themselves.

    As for my dim view, it is not *my* view. Rather it is Microsoft's view, and I do not like it any more than the next person. But if you want to use their software *legally*, then you better take a closer look at their EULA before you say anything about it.

    Technically, back with XP, from what I understood, if you contact the OEM who distributed the license, and if you asked them for a copy of the media; they were obligated to do so. That may have changed with Vista, but it is the correct way of doing things. Not using a copy of someone else's media, which is keyed/licensed differently.

    Just because you think something is right, does not make it legal. Same goes for anyone.
  • redrumkev - Tuesday, August 18, 2009 - link


    I had to create a login just to comment to your posting! You ARE 100% Correct.

    My uncle purchased a dell (2.8 P-4) so he probably got it like 4-5 years ago. I went to his house to do a reinstall as the O/S was acting very strange. Can't find the disk, I had two or three different copies of windows (this was XP), none of which would except "HIS LEGAL KEY, which was on the side of the machine". I quick call to dell showed that "a specific disk" could be mailed out, but since the unit was out of warranty, the cost for this was going to be ~$200. I told him (this was back in June) to hold off wait for the "Vista to Win7 upgrade" and purchase a new entry level system then.

    So the idea of having one disk that contains all versions is great. Especially for me (the family computer fixer guy). Also, from a sales standpoint, it is much easier to get people IMO to upgrade if they already have the disk. Want ultimate? Just change code (via internet purchase) and you are ready to go, you don't have to wait a week or pay $25 for overnight shipping.


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