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OEM Licensing Friday: Back to the basics


After you choose the right Windows Server solution for your business, you need to determine the best way to license that Operating System (OS). Every new server needs a license for a current operating system. There are three license choices for a Microsoft® Windows Server OS: a retail box, an OEM license, and Microsoft Volume Licenses (VL).


Let’s take a look at the fundamentals of Windows Server licensing.

Any server that is running an instance (physical or virtual) of Windows Server must have a valid Windows Server license assigned. This is regardless of the channel license type (OEM, Retail, or VL). For OEM, the Windows Server license must be delivered with the server hardware and with the COA affixed.

For OEM, the Windows Server license must be delivered to the end user with the server hardware and with the COA affixed.

We know that cash flow is very important to all businesses, but can be a huge focus for SMBs in particular. For these SMBs, HP OEM licenses are a great option as they are usually priced lower than retail licenses and Volume Licenses. Remember, there is no difference in the bits, a HP OEM licenses is the same Microsoft software, but there are a few differences in price, support, license rights, replacement media, and software assurance.


Here is a quick list of the most common buying concerns between retail and OEM, and how OEM addresses them:

Buying Concern

OEM License

The software

No difference.


Typically lowest price


Free software support incident from OEM

License rights

Stays with hardware

Replacement media

Available at cost from OEM

Downgrade media

Available from our HP downgrade website

Software Assurance

Can be added within 90 days of purchase


When customers choose HP OEM licenses to go with their ProLiant Servers, there are two ways to get it: direct from HP or from an authorized HP Distributor.

Direct from HP

  • Pre-bundled on a SmartBuy server
  • Factory configured servers
  • Pre-installed by HP (optional)

 From a distributor

  • HP OEM Reseller Option Kit (HP ROK)—Coffee Coaching bonus: learn more about HP ROK


For more information on licensing, keep an eye out for the next blog in our licensing series (coming soon!) and be sure to join our Coffee Coaching communities on FacebookTwitterYouTube, and LinkedIn.

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