What is the Difference Between OEM and Volume Licensing?

What is the Difference Between OEM and Volume Licensing? Understanding the different types of software licensing can be a complex task. Two common types of licensing that often confuse are Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) and Volume Licensing.

This article will delve into the differences between these two licensing types, helping you make an informed decision for your organization.

Understanding OEM Licensing

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) licensing is a software licensing agreement allowing the software to be sold with specific hardware. In this case, the software is typically pre-installed on the hardware by the manufacturer.

Key Features of OEM Licensing

  • Tied to Hardware: An OEM license is connected to the specific hardware it was initially installed. If the hardware fails, the license expires with it. It cannot be transferred to another machine.
  • Single Installation: OEM licenses allow for a single installation of the software. This means you can only install the software on one device.
  • Support: Support for OEM-licensed software is usually provided by the hardware manufacturer rather than the software developer.

Understanding Volume Licensing

On the other hand, Volume Licensing is a service provided by software companies like Microsoft that allow businesses, charities, and educational institutions to acquire multiple software licenses at a reduced cost.

Key Features of Volume Licensing

  • Multiple Installations: Unlike OEM licensing, volume licenses allow the software to be installed on various machines, making it a more flexible option for larger organizations.
  • Transferable: Volume licenses can be transferred from one device to another, providing greater flexibility when upgrading or replacing hardware.
  • Support: Support for volume-licensed software is typically provided by the software developer.

OEM vs. Volume Licensing: The Differences

Now that we have a basic understanding of what OEM and Volume Licensing are, let’s delve into their key differences.

  1. Hardware Dependency: OEM licenses are tied to the hardware they were originally installed on. In contrast, Volume Licenses are not hardware-dependent and can be transferred to other machines.
  2. Number of Installations: OEM licenses allow for a single software installation, while Volume Licenses allow multiple installations, making them a more flexible option for larger organizations.
  3. Support: Support for OEM-licensed software is usually provided by the hardware manufacturer. On the other hand, the software developer typically includes support for Volume Licensed software.
  4. Cost: OEM licenses generally are cheaper than Volume Licenses. However, the price per license can decrease with Volume Licensing if many licenses are purchased.
  5. Software Updates and Upgrades: Volume Licensing often includes Software Assurance, which provides access to software updates and upgrades. OEM licenses do not typically contain this feature.


Choosing between OEM and Volume Licensing depends on your organization’s specific needs. OEM licensing may be a cost-effective choice if you’re a small business with a few machines. However, if you’re a larger organization needing to install software on multiple devices, Volume Licensing could provide more flexibility and potential cost savings.

Remember, it’s essential to fully understand the terms and conditions of any licensing agreement before making a decision. If you need further assistance navigating the complexities of software licensing, consider seeking advice from a licensing expert.


  • Fredrik Filipsson

    Fredrik Filipsson possesses 20 years of experience in Oracle license management. Having worked at Oracle for 9 years, he gained an additional 11 years of expertise in Oracle license consulting projects. Fredrik has provided assistance to over 150 organizations worldwide, ranging in size and tackling various Oracle licensing challenges, including Licensing Assessments, Oracle audits, Oracle ULAs, and more.