OEM versus box product

Tips & Hints


OEM versus box product

One of the features of buying new computers is that you can take the opportunity to get the latest software cheap with the purchase through OEM software.

OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer and the idea of OEM software is the manufacturer can throw the software in as a deal with their equipment.

Box product software means it has been bought through a retailer and isn't tied to any other purchase. The term "box product" applies to downloaded software where it didn't actually come in a box.

There is no difference between OEM and "box product" software in terms of features and how it actually works. The only difference is that the OEM product will not install properly on another computer.

OEM is usually cheaper than box product but there are some downsides with OEM software.

The main downside is OEM software is tied to the use of the equipment it came with. In the past this didn't matter much as the software companies had no way of monitoring what was in your computer. Today they do and there are plenty of stories of OEM software not working after a computer has been upgraded.

This is very important to remember when upgrading computers. When you buy a new a machine, you'll have to buy new OEM software.

Also important is that tech support becomes the responsibility of the manufacturer. If you ring Microsoft about a problem with an OEM edition of Office that came with a Dell computer, MS will tell you to call Dell.

While OEM appears to be a good deal, it may well be better value to buy the boxed product. For instance, a three PC licence for Office Home and Student edition is around $200, while the OEM version is $136 for one system. So it's worthwhile considering OEM software, but be aware that there might be additional costs.

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