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Windows OEM vs Retail Key : Which One to Buy?

In the confusion about buying OEM keys or the retail keys for windows? But do you know the difference between them? When people build their first PC they are

In the confusion about buying OEM keys or the retail keys for windows? But do you know the difference between them? When people build their first PC they are always in the confusion of type of key should they get for windows. If you search online, you will find a cheaper version of windows keys being sold known as OEM keys.

If you are looking for cheap windows OEM keys, you should learn about it before buying one for your PC. There are things to consider before you it for yourself.

In this article, you will know what these keys are and whether you should buy it or not.

What are the Windows OEM Keys?

OEM keys are known as Original Equipment Manufacturer Keys. These keys are supplied to PC or Laptop manufacturers to be embedded with a particular device. So, when you get a brand new laptop or PC with Windows pre-installed you can use it instantly.

These keys are supplied to the manufacturers so they can install windows on your laptop or PC already and you don’t have to. Sure, it does increase the prices of the laptop or PC because of the licensing. Also, there are many other complications involved in it. You cannot use these windows with any other device. It is meant for only that device. But OEM keys are also available for purchase as license keys in the market.

What are the Windows Retail Key?

Windows Retail Keys are the standard genuine windows keys available for public use. Anyone can purchase it from a retailer and install it on their PC or laptop.

Windows Retail Keys come with many additional features packed in it. It is considered the genuine mode of licensing windows. You can either buy it in a standard packaging from shops or get a download version from Microsoft’s official page.

Difference between Windows OEM vs Retail key

When you look at both, there is not much difference between Windows OEM and Retail key. People tend to buy anyone of them without considering the precautions. I have listed out why windows OEM keys are different than retail keys.

  • OEM keys get locked to the hardware of the PC or Laptop it is installed. These keys are meant to work only on a particular device. That means, once used you cannot use an OEM license on any other PC. In the retail version of windows, there are multiple activations for windows. It is usually written the times you can activate windows on different PCs using a retail license.
  • When you buy an OEM key for windows, you are considered to take the role of the manufacturer of the device it is installed. That means you will probably never get any call support from Microsoft. They will most likely tell you to contact the device manufacturer. So, if you encounter a problem with your Windows device you will have to solve it on your own or take help from the internet. For example, I bought an HP laptop with an OEM version of Windows pre-installed on it. If I encounter any problem with the windows, I have to contact HP for the troubleshooting of the error. While in the Retail version you will get full support from the Microsoft Support Team.
  • Buy an OEM Windows Key is a tradeoff between flexibility, support, and price. You can get OEM keys online for very cheap prices from various online stores. Compared to this, Retail keys are a bit more expensive to purchase.

Are Windows OEM Key safe?

Matter of fact is, Windows OEM keys are very safe to purchase if bought from a trusted source. This Windows will work same as the Retail version. Both have same functionality and features in term of usage. But you lose support and flexibility with the OEM keys with a decrease in price.

Things to Consider Before Buying

Now that you have know some bits about these Windows keys, there are some things that I would like you to consider before making a purchase from anywhere.

Reliability of Source

Before making a purchase of Windows 10 be sure to check the reliability of the seller. Make sure that the seller is genuine one. You can find many keys online on various stores but some of the sellers are bit shady. But it from a trusted source.

Genuineness of the Product

Windows OEM keys are also available in the black market as well. But sometimes they just give used keys to the customers. As you know, OEM keys can be used only once, used keys might not work with your system. Product genuineness is more important.

32 bit or 64 bit

Windows 10 comes in two different architecture versions, a 32-bit system, and a 64-bit system. Check with your PC or Laptop which type of architecture it uses. Because installing 64-bit software in a 32-bit system will cause more trouble.


Lastly, OEM keys will not provide any support from Microsoft in comparison to the retail keys. So, it is upon you, if you can troubleshoot error yourself then go for cheaper OEM keys otherwise go for the Retail version of the Windows.

Final Words

I hope this article was useful to you and might help you in deciding which Windows key should you purchase. If you know some tips or tricks or share your purchase experience with us in the comments below. People might get an idea about which one should they buy with your experience :D

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