To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Buy Windows 7 OEM – Before it’s too late!

Windows 7 Home Premium - buy now!

Windows 7 will soon go end-of-life, so XP users who dislike Windows 8 should hurry up and buy an upgrade now

Every Windows product has what Microsoft calls a lifecycle, and despite Windows 8.1‘s unpopularity, Windows 7 is not having its consumer life extended as a result. With the release of Windows 8 back in October 2012 the clock started ticking for Windows 7 and if you want to buy Windows 7 – an excellent, desktop-centric, operating system – then you’d better act quick.


Windows 7 has been sold in two ways, as standalone boxed copies, usually called Full or Retail versions; or as an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) version, which is cheaper and is simply a disc and a code. Retail copies are more flexible and can be installed on any PC, and then moved to any other PC, as long as they are only used on one PC at a time you’re good. You also get both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the operating system, though that’s less of an issue now 64-bit is well supported.

OEM versions usually come installed on a PC or laptop when you buy it, but they can also be bought online for far less than retail copies of the same operating system. It used to be that you had to buy a piece of hardware, such a mouse or some RAM, to qualify to buy an OEM copy but this has been abandoned.

It’s worth noting that OEM copies come with no technical support, unlike full retail versions of Microsoft’s operating systems, which have 90 days of support to get you up-and-running.

An OEM copy can only be installed on one PC or laptop, generally the one it came with, if you try and move it to another PC or laptop it will become invalid. You can upgrade a PC that an OEM version of Windows 7 is installed on, changing say the hard disks, graphics card or memory, but if you switch the motherboard then Microsoft will consider it a new PC and you’ll need a new copy of Windows to continue using it legally.


Unfortunately, Windows 7 retail sales were stopped in October 2013 and there’s very little stock of the operating system left available to buy. We found some copies online but these were being sold at many times their original price. The cheapest we found Windows 7 Home Premium was £170 on Amazon, compare that to £84 for a full version of Windows 8.1 from the same retailer.

OEM copies are in better supply, as they are still being supplied to system builders until October 2014. After that though the supply will likely dry up quickly and prices will start to rise. At present you’ll pay around £70 for a 64-bit copy of Windows 7 Home Premium from a reputable retailer. We’ve seen copies online for half that admittedly, but we’d be careful of counterfeits and use a trusted retailer such as

If you want Windows 7, our advice is to buy a copy now, particularly if you don’t like the look of Windows 8.1 and don’t have faith in Microsoft’s plans for the future – see Windows 9 features, news, release date & price rumours. One thing to be wary of is support, with Microsoft only pledging mainstream support Windows 7 until January 2015. When this support ends, Microsoft will not be updating or adding any new features to the OS or issuing fixes for non-security bugs; however, its Extended Support continues until January 2020, meaning you’ll continue to get security patches during this period.

Read more