Microsoft licenses for Windows 7 backups?

  • Hello –

    I searched the forum threads, but didn’t find a relevant case for our situation, which I think is pretty basic. We are a library that offers 14 Windows 7 Pro machines for public use. These are off-the-shelf Dells with no special licensing package from Microsoft. As the workstations are in constant use, bits and pieces of the software package invariably break, meaning that we are spending lots of time fixing individual computers. We would like to make an image backup of each unit, and have the ability to restore each computer in the event of a failure, with the ability to also update each image as the operating system and software applications are updated.

    Since we are a government institution, we play by the rules, but in this case we are unsure of the rules surrounding one-to-one backup and restore over a network using software such as FOG. Does anyone have a documented answer as to whether or not we need to pay a special license fee to Microsoft if we re-image a Windows 7 backup of the original computer over a network?

    Thanks in advance,

    Darrell Eifert
    Head of Public Services
    Lane Memorial Library

  • Developer

    from the licensing brief: “you may use an OEM recovery image on devices shipped by that OEM provided that the device is appropriately licensed.”
    [SIZE=2]if you are restoring computers to backups of themselves, you are perfectly legal. you said you only have 14 computers, so i’m going to assume that the hassle of [/SIZE]acquiring[SIZE=2] volume licensing isn’t worth it for you.[/SIZE]

  • Moderator

    or install the client and use an unattend.xml for sysprep.

    get the PCs to sysprep with a common name and then have the client change it to the proper name and join the AD.

    there was talk of including key functions in fog, but yet again. OEM licenses don’t have reimaging rights. that’s why you need a VL license to get the reimaging rights.

    I would say having to go to a PC is something to avoid, and that is certainly possible. it just depends what budget is available and how much your company values time.

  • It’s quite simple to get started with this.

    If each machine is already loaded with a licensed copy of windows, you can easily image, and redeploy those images as needed.

    If they are identical hardware the process is a bit more involved but easier to manage once setup. (this includes create several versions of “stock” images, Pre-SysPrep, Post SysPrep(system audit) and lastly an OOBE image.

    Any time you want to update a machine you deploy the Pre-Sysprep image to 1 machine, apply any updates, and then upload that machine over the existing pre-sysprep image.

    Run SysPrep and then upload this image over the existing sysprep image.

    Then finally run an OOBE image (stopping before entering the product key, user name etc) and push this image to every machine you have.

    Each time you deploy this updated image you can enter the windows product key, and user name and set it up as an OOBE (Out-Of-Box-Experience) computer, rejoin it to any network or domain you have, and you have the updates.

    Still a good amount of work, but much better then running windows updates on 14 computers constantly.

    Additionally the updated image can be scheduled to run on your end machines, meaning you can plan to have all of the machines ready to be setup with user and domain details when you come in the following day.

  • Moderator

    Microsoft licensing is usually a pain. I would suggest you read the imaging rights pdf from Microsoft and use a volume license key to image many PCs with the same key…

    An OEM key is unique for each individual PC, not every brand/model of PC.

    Also if you own a single Volume License to get reimaging rights, you get media direct from Microsoft so you skip all the junk the OEMs install.

  • I don’t activate Windows when the image will work for different brand of computer unless i would have buy an amount of licence but i will keep note of the amount used at the same time in this case.
    I use OEM key from the brand of the computer after deploying this “multi system” image.
    I only backup keys when image will stay on the same computer brand and serie.

    For me, using brand installed OS then remove ALL unwanted and useless software and configuration or install Windows from the DVD and use the same OEM key, end at the same things.
    The 1st way can create unstable OS, unused files and unused reg key and will ask you to spend days to clean it.
    The 2nd way reach the minimal size possible.

    The question is if the OEM licence is for Windows itself or for Windows with the brand software layer.

  • Moderator

    if you are using a standardised image, have a read


    it just depends how you set things up…

    if you have one image per PC and you are using FOG as a backup solution, it’s different than a standard image.

    it might be worth buying one volume license so you can reimage with a standard image, if you pay for tech people as it may end up saving you time/money in the long run.

  • Developer

    you are completely in the clear, you are only restoring computers to backups of themselves.