May be you can’t believe, that an OEM license that comes with a branded computer or notebook manufacturer such as HP, Dell and Lenovo, may actually allow you to have additional license product key, if you’re willing to break the law. The extra OEM license loophole is another leak from Microsoft which previously is about a loophole which allows consumers to buy the cheaper upgrade version of Windows Vista license but use the Microsoft instructed hack to fresh install on a computer without verification of old license, and hence effectively using an upgrade product key as genuine full retail Windows Vista license. And now this trick is about legally and genuinely install and use Windows Vista on two machines, the original OEM branded computer and another desktop or laptop computer, regardless of old branded or DIY type.

All computer products factory pre-installed with Windows Vista from big original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) has these unique features: All computer has SLIC (System Licensing Internal Code), and all these Windows Vista is pre-activated with generic OEM license product key for genuine validation. This is the basis for the Windows Vista OEM activation which based on Windows marker on BIOS. Thus, new branded computer is in activated state out of the factory, and can be used immediately without the need for further activation online or by phone.

OEM Computer running Windows Vista

Although all new computer running Windows Vista from OEMs is pre-activated, however, usually on the casing of the PC there will be a sticker of genuine COA (Certificate of Authenticity) pasted, with a 25-character product key which is what usually known as serial number. But this product key on COA is not related and not the same at all with the generic OEM product key preinstalled on the activated and validated Windows Vista system. So we have the ‘buy 1 free 1′ loophole in the Windows Vista product key based activation system, as one OEM machine can be activated by default or with recovery CD with generic OEM product key, while another computer can be activated with COA product key, with both computer is legit and possible to go through genuine Windows validation. However, not all computer can be activated with COA product key, as it will matched against SLIC component in the BIOS. And if the BIOS Windows marker does not exists, activation will fail. So it is only safe to say that the product key from COA can be used to activate another relatively new computer from the same manufacturer, which is most likely to fulfill all required activation conditions.

Not all OEM’s computers are applicable for this buy one free one Windows Vista license hack. It’s only applicable if your new computer does not need you to enter product key from the COA to activate the system during first use and also after restoration. Most likely products from only so call “Royalty OEM” or big OEMs such as Lenovo, HP and Dell will has this privileges, as the laptop, notebook or desktop computer comes with complete set of recovery CD or restore partition that can re-image the hard disk to exactly the same state when the computer just finished assembled in the factory. If your computer comes with Windows Vista DVD media or recovery CD that requires you to enter product key every restoration, you should not use the product key on other computer.

It’s also possible to get these OEM product key on COA sticker completely free too. Simply roams around computer stores, shops, exhibitions, shows, offices, your friends’ houses, public libraries, government offices and etc, looks for computers with COA, or search everywhere around the Web for photos of Vista COA, and note down the product serial key. Then use the product key to activate Windows Vista system at your home and be treated by Microsoft as genuine and legal Vista copy. However, doing this is criminal act similar to stealing and you have to do it on your own risk.

It’s possible that Microsoft will update the SLP 2.0 activation and validation procedures for OEM activation when the Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) is rolled out, where SP1 may requires all OEM activated system to reenter the product serial number from the COA to upgrade the Windows Vista. But chance is low, as if this scenario really happens, it’s going to cause a lot of problems, inconveniences and big mess to customers who bought OEM computers. Beside, there is possible risk of users facing situation where product key been stolen as mentioned above, thus no longer able to use their legitimately owned product key again.

As mentioned in paragraph above, it’s possible for somebody to steal your product key too. How Microsoft going to deal with this situation is unknown, it’s possible that Microsoft may giveaway a new product key for your usage, making it’s real “buy 1 get 2” trick. But don’t hope much. It’s better for you to safeguard the product key – by re-activate your computer with COA’s product key by changing product key, or if you wish, use it at another computer, but the product key will no longer able to be used on other computer, including the original computer which it comes with.