Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I just picked up a copy of Windows 7 Pro OEM for install on my computer. Guy at the store said the only real difference between OEM and standard retail box was tech support.

However, the outside of the box has this big warning that says "The software must be installed with an OPK"?

What is the OPK? Is it really necessary? The MS site about it seemed to say it was optional.

EDIT: BTW - I'm just an individual tinkerer, and not a System Builder Company Employee. I should have made that clear. I've used sysprep in a professional setting in the past, so I'm somewhat familiar with its concepts.

share|improve this question
up vote 5 down vote accepted

He is correct and don't worry about the OPK.

The difference between OEM and fully packaged product is more about the licensing terms.

OEM is for one machine and one machine only, sold at a discount and is what you get pre loaded on to your machine when you buy it from a shop. You have no transfer rights at all.

Fully packaged product on the other hand is just one copy and you can install it, remove it, and reinstall it as many times as you like (It can only be on one pc at any one time).

You get no technical support as it is meant to come from the manufacturer... or Super User!

The OPK is just a piece of software available to OEM builders (comes in a OEM 3 pack or as a download from which allows you to customise various elements of Windows such as tech support short cuts, pre install various software so it is available on first use and some other features.

share|improve this answer
I'm cool with those limitations. – J. Polfer Feb 28 '11 at 13:58

Yes its required for Windows 7 as the OPK is how the system is readied for the end user to interact with the machine (acceptance of the EULA on first run, etc).

"•Although it is possible for an individual to buy a System Builder copy of Windows 7 and install it on a new PC, that scenario is specifically prohibited by the license agreement, which requires that the software be installed using the OPK and then resold to a non-related third party. (As I noted in a September 2008 post, Microsoft once allowed “hobbyists” to use OEM System Builder software to build their own PCs, but the company switched to a hard-line stance on this issue sometime after Vista shipped in early 2007.)" - Ed Bott (source)

"OEM system builder software packs are intended for PC and server manufacturers or assemblers ONLY. They are not intended for distribution to end users. Unless the end user is actually assembling his/her own PC, in which case, that end user is considered a system builder as well." - Paul Thurrott (source)

share|improve this answer

No, you don't need the OPK since YOU are the end user.

If its for your computer, it should be fine. It looks like OPKs are meant for the OEM builders to ensure the best out of the box experience for the end user -- since you are the end user, you don't really care.

share|improve this answer

Guy at the store said the only real difference between OEM and standard retail box was tech support.

He lied. OEM is tied to a specific machine. Retail can be removed from one machine and installed on another as many times as you want, as long as you're only using it on machine at a time.

share|improve this answer

Found this article that implies that "no, it isn't."

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.