OS & other software license issues

Discussion in 'A+ Certification' started by techshare, Jul 7, 2003.

  1. techshare

    techshare Guest

    Hello,

    I run a software/hardware pc repair business (primarily residential
    service). I would like to know if anyone has any good rules of thumb for
    installing/"reinstalling"/"refreshing" the operating systems and software on
    a customer's system. Specifically, I run into a lot of systems with either
    OEM software and OS , or non-OEM software and OS, or the most common is a
    combination of both. Typically the customer may have the original paperwork
    that came with the machine
    .. Of course, some also have nothing.

    As a PC service business, what should I require before using any licensed
    software I may have on hand? For example, can I reinstall Windows 98 on a
    machine that was originally bundled with Windows 98 (without purchasing and
    selling a license back to the customer)? Also, is "reinstalling" an OS
    legally the same as installing to a bare drive? It is usually very difficult
    to sell customers ANY software licenses. They don't realize software costs
    money. So, I just want to know what I can wash my hands of (leave the
    responsibility on their shoulders), and what responsibility would be on my
    shoulders if/when/how I use my own software on their system.

    TIA for any help on this.
     
    techshare, Jul 7, 2003
    #1
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  2. techshare

    Peter B Guest

    "techshare" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Hello,
    > As a PC service business, what should I require before using any licensed
    > software I may have on hand? For example, can I reinstall Windows 98 on a
    > machine that was originally bundled with Windows 98 (without purchasing

    and
    > selling a license back to the customer)? Also, is "reinstalling" an OS
    > legally the same as installing to a bare drive? It is usually very

    difficult
    > to sell customers ANY software licenses. They don't realize software costs
    > money. So, I just want to know what I can wash my hands of (leave the
    > responsibility on their shoulders), and what responsibility would be on my
    > shoulders if/when/how I use my own software on their system.
    >
    > TIA for any help on this.


    If they have the serial number that came with windows on their PC, then you
    can reinstall it using any Windows install disc, providing it's the same
    version, with their existing serial number.

    If they have windows and no longer have the serial or the booklet, then
    reinstalling and using a different serial (unless paid for) would be illegal
    (as there would be at least two OS's with the same serial) and as you are
    the one that installed it you are responsible. Technically you are paying
    for the license and not the software when you purchase Windows. Microsoft
    owns windows on your PC, you own a license to run it. You cannot wash your
    hands of any responsibility unless they sign a waver stating that they take
    full responsibility, but you could still be prosecuted for distribution of
    pirated material if they do not have the original serial.
     
    Peter B, Jul 8, 2003
    #2
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  3. techshare

    techshare Guest

    Thanks for the reply. Now, I guess I'm still a little fuzzy on what I should
    or should not do. I guess I've never had to get into the hack/process of
    finding windows OS serial numbers off an OEM windows version already
    installed on a drive.

    Unless I'm mistaken, it seems there are two key issues:

    - The license to the OS that the customer "bought" with the machine
    - The actual windows installation serial number (if available) to use if an
    OS reinstall is needed.

    So it seems this is turning into more of a technical question of what is the
    quickest and easiest way to get the existing windows serial off of an OEM
    windows installation (because bottom line is I shouldn't be using any others
    unless they bought them). Obviously, I'm now going to request it on paper
    for any customer's with white boxes. If anyone has any good tips on how to
    get the existing serial numbers - TIA

    "Adam Leinss" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > "techshare" <> wrote in
    > news::
    >
    > > As a PC service business, what should I require before using any
    > > licensed software I may have on hand? For example, can I reinstall
    > > Windows 98 on a machine that was originally bundled with Windows
    > > 98 (without purchasing and selling a license back to the
    > > customer)? Also, is "reinstalling" an OS legally the same as
    > > installing to a bare drive? It is usually very difficult to sell
    > > customers ANY software licenses. They don't realize software costs
    > > money. So, I just want to know what I can wash my hands of (leave
    > > the responsibility on their shoulders), and what responsibility
    > > would be on my shoulders if/when/how I use my own software on
    > > their system.

    >
    > As you work on an increasing number of systems, you will generally
    > get a feel of what OS they should come with. All brand names like
    > Compaq, HP, etc. automatically come with some form of M$ OS, so
    > you'll pretty much guaranteed they have bought a license for Windows.
    > If the hard drive isn't completely trashed, you can also find out
    > what serial number they used to install Windows and what version of
    > Windows it is, even if Windows doesn't boot anymore. Some computers
    > even have a "Built for Windows 2000" sticker right on them, so you
    > know it came with Windows 2000. You can always look their model up
    > on the Internet and see what OS came with it.
    >
    > White box? Well, I would probably require shop or retail media on
    > that one, unless they have a sales slip that denotes what OS came
    > with it.
    >
    > I don't know what difference there would be between "reinstalling vs
    > installing".
    >
    > You might want to have them sign off on a disclaimer in which they
    > attest to legally owning the software that was/is on their PC. Kind
    > of takes the pressure off of you.
    >
    > If you are really anal, I guess you could do a quick capture using
    > "dir /s > somefile.txt" which will show all the directories and
    > filenames on their computer, so that if push ever came to shove, you
    > could show that you believed that they indeed owned the software (and
    > that it was pre-existing on their PC before you touched it).
    >
    > As a PC service business, I'm sure you would have no problem getting
    > OEM versions of Windows 95/98/Me so you can use the customer's serial
    > number.
    >
    > Adam
     
    techshare, Jul 8, 2003
    #3
  4. techshare

    Adam Leinss Guest

    "techshare" <> wrote in message news:<>...
    > Thanks for the reply. Now, I guess I'm still a little fuzzy on what I should
    > or should not do. I guess I've never had to get into the hack/process of
    > finding windows OS serial numbers off an OEM windows version already
    > installed on a drive.
    >
    > Unless I'm mistaken, it seems there are two key issues:
    >
    > - The license to the OS that the customer "bought" with the machine
    > - The actual windows installation serial number (if available) to use if an
    > OS reinstall is needed.
    >
    > So it seems this is turning into more of a technical question of what is the
    > quickest and easiest way to get the existing windows serial off of an OEM
    > windows installation (because bottom line is I shouldn't be using any others
    > unless they bought them). Obviously, I'm now going to request it on paper
    > for any customer's with white boxes. If anyone has any good tips on how to
    > get the existing serial numbers - TIA



    From http://www.dougknox.com/utility/scripts_desc/cdkey_dos.htm :

    If you can't boot into Windows at all, then you can boot with a
    Startup Disk (CD support is not required) or into Command Mode Only
    and type the following command:

    For 95:

    C:\Windows\Command\Find /I "ProductId" c:\windows\system.dat

    For 98/Me:

    C:\Windows\Command\Find /I "ProductKey" C:\Windows\System.dat

    The first line of the screen dump will look like this:

    ProductKey XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX where the X's are your actual
    CD Key.

    NOTE: This will not work in Windows XP

    There's also a DOS utility that will do the same thing...I'll have to
    hunt it up when I get home, but the above will work equally well.

    Adam
     
    Adam Leinss, Jul 8, 2003
    #4
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