The term "OEM" is an abbreviation for 'Original Equipment Manufacturer' and refers to entities that manufacture computers and hardware, in the present context. OEM software is sold in bulk to manufacturers, so that they can package it with their computer hardware, cell phones, and other electronic products, before they are shipped all over the world.
From the point of view of consumers who purchase packaged systems such as laptop computers, OEM software is a third-party addition. Are these programs specially designed and perfected for an OEM's exclusive use?
The answer to this question is 'No'. Can one purchase a copy of this software in the retail market? Yes, you can buy it as a stand-alone software product. However, it may prove to be costlier than those offered by the OEMs (number of products ordered matters).
Features of OEM Software
As bulk buyers, the OEMs purchase these software programs at a discounted price. That's why, when you purchase their computer systems, they can afford to sell them to you at a low price. The OEM software shipped with computer systems falls in one of the following categories:
- It may be a full-fledged version of the retail software available in the market.
- It may be a feature-limited version of the retail software available in the market. Most of the time these software programs are sold as 'Special Edition' or 'Limited Edition' products. They are sold to entice computer users into buying a full-fledged version.
- It may be an older version of the retail software available in the market.
In future, if the buyer wants to only sell the software and keep the computer system, then, he or she may find that the end-user license does not allow it. These software programs are meant to be used with the computer systems that they are sold with.
You can also buy them at a retailer, along with a core computer hardware component. There are some issues related with such a purchase which may prevent you from going ahead with it. This software may not be available with all the features that the retail software version has.
The instructions provided with it may not be sufficient for a novice computer user when it comes to installing the software. The real problem with this type of software is that its manufacturer may provide only limited warranties and support for it. It is expected that the retailer, who you are buying it from, will provide it in full.
OEM software programs are also available on the Internet. However, caution is advised because some websites are selling programs like Adobe Photoshop without prior permission from the manufacturer. The products sold by these websites are basically pirated versions.
There is no guarantee that a software purchased from these sellers will be shipped with the original packaging and a user manual. If you are going to buy software, it is advisable that you check the credibility of the seller. If you end up with a pirated version, you will not get support, software upgrades or service packs, that a legal purchase assures.