For those who purchased the official OEM version of Windows 7 the licensing clearly states that the installation must be built and deployed using the official Microsoft Windows 7 OPK (OEM Preinstallation Kit). Although the link is placed right on the box where to download it, this process isn’t clearly defined nor is it as self-explanatory as it ought to be.
Microsoft went out of their way on Windows 7 to make OEM installations a bit more difficult than their previous operating systems. The Windows 7 OPK is essentially a tool designed for OEMS to take a Windows 7 installation disk and customize an OEM install for clients and customers who will be purchasing or receiving their machines.
Windows OEM licensing traditionally allowed hobbyists to purchase a copy of the OEM disk and install it on a system they build themselves, unfortunately Windows 7 changed this in their latest release of OEM editions. They state quite clearly that the Windows 7 OEM edition is designed for distribution to an end user from an original equipment manufacturer. That OEM is required to register themselves as a Microsoft Partner prior to the installation and distribution of their OEM license.
Regardless of the reasoning, The Windows 7 OPK is quite easy to install once you’ve jumped through a couple of headaches from Microsoft. In fact, as of the making of this video, the link printed on the OEM copy of Windows 7 I purchased is broken and I had to manually track down the links to obtain my official copy of the Windows 7 OPK.
This article walks users through the prerequisites, download and installation of the Windows 7 OPK (OEM Preinstallation Kit). This kit is required for the distribution of an OEM copy of Windows 7 to an end user.
How To Install The Windows 7 OPK OEM Preinstallation Kit:
- Register yourself or your company as an OEM system builder Microsoft Partner (https://mspartner.microsoft.com/en/us/pages/membership/enroll.aspx).
- Login to the OEM Partner Center (http://www.microsoft.com/oem/en/installation/downloads/Pages/windows_7_opk.aspx#fbid=7D8dUEyZAri)
- Download the latest ISO image version of the Windows 7 OPK from Microsoft.
- Double click on the ISO image using Windows 7 to use the built in Windows 7 image burning utility (you may also opt to mount the image using a separate image mounting utility).
- Insert a Blank DVD into the drive and select Burn.
- Launch the DVD by removing and inserting it into your drive or double clicking on the CD Rom drive in Start Menu > Computer
- Select OPK Setup
- Choose a destination folder and select Next
- Confirm your installation.
- Wait for the installation to complete.
- Select Close.
- You can launch the Windows 7 OEM Preinstallation Kit through Start Menu > Microsoft Windows OPK > Windows System Image Manager
After the installation of the Windows 7 OPK (OEM Preinstallation Kit), you can then start to build your own custom Windows 7 installation image. This image will allow you to enter custom OEM information that will allow the end user to go through a “First Time Boot” sequence catered to you as an OEM. Although the kit leaves many hobbyists with some frustration, it has become a necessary evil for obtaining an OEM copy, rather than retail copy, of the Windows 7 operating system.