A funny thing happened to me while in Florida…

So I was talking to a group of System Builders while presenting at a road show in Florida.  One of the System Builders in the audience made a comment that he was annoyed that every time someone came in with a machine that needed the OS reinstalled, he had to call to have it activated.  That struck me as a little odd so I asked a couple qualifying questions and found out that these were typically machines made by Dell, HP, etc.  I asked if he was using the reinstall disk that came with the computer and he indicated to me that no he was using a copy he had on hand and using the COA number on the side to activate it.  I took the opportunity to inform him that what he was doing violated the System Builder license. 

Well I am pretty sure you could see the explosion from space.  Needless to say this was not only a revelation to many of the partners in the room but it was also cause for great consternation and anger.  Well the fact is, it's a tough situation.  A customer comes in and just wants their machine fixed and they are looking to you to do it.  In order to be fully license compliant, however, you have to use the restore disk that came with the system.  Now I understand that often times these computers don't come with restore disks but with images on the hard disk that can be used to create recovery media.  The problem is that often times the consumer chooses not to be diligent in storing their installation CD's and various backups of their software.  So you want to help out the customer but you also don't want to do something that violates the OEM license.  I am wondering if anyone has any ideas on how we can make this situation better for both the System Builder and the consumer.   

Comments (6)

  1. Anonymous says:

    This is a major recurring problem since many, if not most, end users do not have restore media.  They purchased an OEM copy of XP with a legitimate product key from Dell, HP, or whomever.

    What is the difference between that and the OEM versions I provide with new systems?  If I have to do a repair install or replace a motherboard, re-activation is usually accomplished via Internet rather than a phone call.

    The problem is that Dell, HP, and the like do not actually use the product key on sticker but rather generic keys tied to their hardware.  A simple repair install results in telephone re-activation.  I know it’s due to misuse of OEM product keys and to prevent piracy.

    Microsoft needs to find a way to support repair shops trying to be both honest and fair with the customer rather than always kowtowing to large OEM vendors.  If Dell installed using the assigned product key, none of that hassle would be necessary and misuse/piracy would be prevented.

    From what I’ve read so far, the problem will only get worse with Vista.

    Seems the small business person always gets the short end of the stick.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I should add that, to Microsoft’s major credit, the EULAs are in fact getting shorter. The IE7 EULA is an awesome example: Two paragraphs. One, English. The other, French.

  3. Brian says:

    just a note to all dell and the rest of them need to supply a disk with the system on it a customer came in and asked me to burn his copy from the restore section on the disk he sent the system back for one reason he paid for a 80 gig and the restore system on his drive a made it smaller then he wanted so watch for the legal end to start over the way they do the systems that are sold have fun with that one  

  4. Anonymous says:

    "…often times the consumer chooses not to be diligent in storing their installation CD’s and various backups of their software…"

    Brett, I work in the field, and I can tell you that customer diligence in this department does not exist. There is no such thing.

    Another myth that Microsoft can forget about is the end-user reading an end-user license agreement. If you observe an EU scrolling down a EULA, there’s an easy explanation: the tech is looking over their shoulder. They might even ask "what is this?" to see if the technician has read the EULA and remembers any of what s/he read.

    Many of my lawyer clients change the radio button from "I disagree" to "I agree" and then "next" their way through EULAs like nobody’s business. I wonder if they even once read one of those EULAs, onerous as they may be.

    I don’t know what the legal implications are for assuming that the "I agree" radio button is tantamount to having read the agreement, but I doubt anyone will take that notion seriously until these EULAs are seriously simplified.

    I’m Ron Burgundy, thanks for watching Channel 4 News.

  5. Anonymous says:

    This may be beating a dead horse, but let’s look at this from the end user’s point of view. Sure they should have backed up all their important documents/pictures/whatever.  The purpose of the MicroSoft product and the purpose our being at our shops is to provide service to the end user.  The end user does not want a recovery disk used from the manufacturer.  It would be a disservice to use it, as it sets the harddrive up as it came from the factory.  They lose everything they have invested hours saving or creating.  We need a better solution i.e. a bonifide copy of the operating system with each computer sold.  So a reinstall can be performed instead of a complete wipe or a computer repair person using his own disk and the customer’s OEM

    number.  It work so well in the old days, I don’t see why it can’t continue.  Why fix it if it wasn’t broke.  I promote a certified copy of the operating system be furnished with all systems sold.  Just my feelings on the subject.

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