Full retail copies of Windows could become a thing of the past with Windows 8. According to Windows Weekly co-hosts, Redmond plans to make the new operating system available in fewer kinds of packages.
Full retail copies of Windows could become a thing of the past with Windows 8. According to Windows Weekly co-hosts Paul Thurrott and Mary Jo Foley, Redmond plans to make the new operating system available in fewer kinds of packages. A license to use Windows is either sold by computer manufacturers (on desktops and notebooks that have the OS pre-installed), can be purchased in the store as "Full Retail" or "OEM" packages, or bought in bulk via Microsoft's various volume licensing programmes. Those already with licenses of older versions of Windows can typically buy "Upgrade" licenses.
While "Full Retail" is the package intended for sale to consumers who want full copies of the various variants of Windows, these consumers typically end up buying the significantly cheaper "OEM" version, which is intended for purchase and installation by system integrators. The OEM version is supposed to be sold with hardware, but as far as most retailers are concerned, it's not cast in stone. The only differences between the two are superficial (better product presentation and slightly better aftersales support for the "Full Retail" package), and cease to matter once the operating system is up and running. Microsoft wants to change this.
According to Thurrott and Foley, there will be three ways in which consumers can get their hands on a Windows 8 license: buy devices that have it pre-installed; upgrade their existing Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 installations using Upgrade copies; or buy what will come to be known as "System Builder" copy.
The System Builder copy, as Thurrott and Foley describe, is similar to today's OEM copies, except that its EULA (end user license agreement) could allow people to purchase it standalone (or with components to build new PCs with), and install it without needing to be "system integrators." The move could simplify the forms in which the operating system will be made available to the public, on the web, and through retail stores. How the move impacts pricing is a totally different issue, something we'll learn more about as we inch closer to the October 2012 (tentative) launch of the operating system.