It took me a while to find a way how to create OEM image for Windows when we moved from Windows 7 pre-installed computers to Windows 8 pre-installed OEM computers. When you want to replace old computers you usually buy a large batch of new computers. OEM computers usually come with Windows pre-installed. In order to reduce the burden of manual installation of standard programs on each and every computer you bought, a standard Image can be created.
You would use this image to deploy on all computers at the same time. The reason why this is complicated is pretty simple. You want to use Windows OEM serial number.
There are two problems with preinstalled Windows.
- Preinstalled Windows come with many little programs which make Windows slower (example HP and Lenovo Computers)
- Preinstalled Windows have already been imaged for mass deployment.
Even if you remove all of the unwanted programs, traces will be left in the registry and various folders. Do you want to have a “clean” system or one that is only partly clean and still slower than ”pure” installation?
OEM computers have already been imaged. Post installation is started when you turn on the computer. You will have many problems if you will want to create the image from an OEM installation.
How to create OEM image properly?
The best way to create an image is to start a fresh Windows installation. You should deploy company standard applications and make company modifications to Windows OS. Then create an image. This image can be deployed on all computers without any problems.
Serial number problem with Windows 8 OEM computers
In the Windows 7 days, when you used OPEN licensing Windows media, you were able to enter Windows 7 serial number written on the sticker on the computer. Windows was activated normally.
With Windows 8 preinstalled on OEM computers, serial number is no longer present in the form of a sticker. Windows 8 and above use serial number which is stored in a BIOS. Windows reads BIOS information and activates when it sees the correct serial number.
If Windows 7 is preinstalled but is part of latest generation of computers with serial number stored in BIOS, you can’t use it’s serial on OPEN media installation.
How do you enter Windows 7 serial number in the activation window if computer comes with Windows 8 (even Windows 7) preinstalled and there is no serial on the sticker?
You could downgrade to Windows 7 with Factory downgrade media and extract serial number. But you would face the same two problems again.
First, programs you don’t want are installed and Windows installation is already image based.
Plus, serial number from factory image does not work with OPEN licensing media.
The correct way to image OEM computer
- First you have to buy at least one copy of Windows Professional OPEN license.
- Install Windows 7 or Windows 8 (download from MS Licensing Portal) and set up all the standard applications and apply modifications.
- Create an Image
- Capture an Image
- Deploy an image
To activate Windows, you will have to use serial number from MS Licensing portal
What about licensing?
You should follow Microsoft guideline for Imaging OEM computers
- You can image OEM computer
- The same type of Windows that you will install has to be preinstalled (If Windows PRO version is preinstalled you can use PRO version for an image)
- You have to use version with same language
- You have to purchase at least one license under Open license or Open value agreement
- You can downgrade from Windows 8 to Windows 7 in most cases
- You can use OEM media to Re-image computers that were shipped with. You can not use OEM media from HP to Re-image Lenovo computers or even other type of same brand.
- You should use serial from Licensing portal
- When you run out of licences, you should contact Microsoft who will grant you additional licences for imaging OEM computers.
There are many ways how to create a Windows 7 or Windows 8 image. Most solutions are fairly complicated. At least compared to Windows XP.
The best solution and most simple solution to create and maintain Windows Images is with a solution called Smartdeploy.
Reason I love Smartdeploy is that is it’s very easy to learn and operate.
It follows the best practice where you create an image in Virtual environment and offers driver packs for any possible business computer.
You should try it and let me know how you like it.