In the wake of my latest blog on bargain Win7 versions, I got an e-mail from a former student and regular corresponent, asking about some problems with an install from a Windows 7 OEM version. Seems that he couldn’t get the install to run correctly on his target machine, no matter what he tried. This can be a real problem because the company that builds systems that use OEM versions of Windows is supposed to provide first-line technical support for Windows on those machines. When you build your own machine and run an OEM version of the OS, you’re technically on your own hook for system support and troubleshooting.
I recommended that he start troubleshooting by running the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor on his target machine and see what it reports. It may very well be the case that the hardware fails to meet minimum requirements, and something is impeding the usual warnings and error messages to that effect that would normally appear inside the install process itself.
Next, he might try booting from the install media (after burning an ISO if he is working from a download), or perhaps using the ultra-snazzy new (and free) Windows 7 USB DVD Download Tool. By booting from an installable image, he may be able to sidestep whatever is hampering his install difficulties in the present circumstances (assuming, of course, that the Win7UA doesn’t flag issues that need to be addressed before an install can complete, or even begin–in that case, he must first remedy those issues before trying again).
But this, alas, is the real nub of the potential problems with a quasi-legal version of Windows 7. While MS will cheerfully and thoroughly support upgrade or full retail install problems by phone or Web chat, you won’t get a peep out of them on OEM versions. That means you’ll need to turn to somebody else who knows more about Windows than you do for help instead, and hope they’ve got the time to assist you in figuring out what wrong, and how to fix it.