For my own sanity, I have to take notes on how the Microsoft licenses are structured:

Full Version a.k.a. "Retail

This license can be installed on any computer that fulfills the technical requirements needed to run the operating system. It should include manuals, a certificate of authenticity from Microsoft, a license key, and support from Microsoft. The operating system is not tied to the hardware, and can be installed on another computer, granted that the software installed on the original computer is removed. The software cannot be run on two separate machines simultaneously.

Full Version Upgrade

OEM License

This is probably the one for me.

OEM Upgrade

Does this exist?

Academic License

Not applicable.

Academic Upgrade License

Not applicable.

There are a lot of options, huh? I just found another: NFR - which I think stands for “not for resale”, which confuses me as I was under the impression ALL Microsoft software was not for resale, except for the OEM version, which is designed to sell with a new machine.

This blog page tells more about what “NFR” means to Microsoft, but unfortunately I can’t understand the premise of the article - are people who are selling “NFR” products breaking the law? Are people who are buying them?

This better blog entry about Microsoft NFR products makes it clear that selling an NFR product is illegitimate. Strangely enough, there are many online retails that sell these items. Could it be that Microsoft cannot prohibit the actual sale of the item, but instead can only prohibit the installation of a piece of software that is transferred via a sale, making the installation and use of such software illegal. Good question for a lawyer - remember the information in this post is simply my notes, nothing else. But that raises another question - can NFR products be used for replacement media?

Though this post about a Windows 2000 Replacement CD seems hopeful. I called the number, and though the rep was nice, she was unhelpful, she said she could have supplied me with a replacement Windows 2000 CD, but the product has been discontinued. Argh. She gave me the number to Microsoft sales:

Microsoft Sales: 888-218-5617

Was on hold for too long. Ugh. I’ve decided to make it easy on myself and buy the Home OEM version from Newegg.com.

For more information on software licensing, check out Informed Licensing.