Differences between OEM, RTM, RC and Retail

I talked about the OEM version of Windows 8 before, and the downgrade option to a different version. But, what’s the difference between OEM, RTM, RC and Retail? These are all different edition of a OS, but with the same capabilities. As an example, I’m going to use Windows 8 to explain them, so let’s start!

OEM: “Original Equipment Manufacturing”. Windows 8 OEM is the edition which comes preinstalled on a computer. So when you buy a PC, the OS edition that you’ll get is this one. The OEM has the same capabilities as the Retail.

RTM: “Release to Manufacturing”. Windows 8 RTM is an edition that is no longer in the development stage, but not released to customers yet.

RC: “Release Candidate”. Exactly what it means, this edition comes right before the RTM. Different version of the RC are indicated by rc1, rc2 and so on.

Retail: The final one, is the Retail. This edition is the same as the OEM, but it’s not preinstalled and sold separately in a box, usually at a higher price. You should buy it only if you have a computer that doesn’t have any OS installed, maybe because you’re building it yourself.

Confusing? No, it isn’t, it’s technology. 😉

In italiano

Ho parlato della possibilità di fare il downgrade di Windows 8 OEM a Windows 7 e Vista, ma qual’è la differenza tra OEM, RTM, RC, e Retail?

La OEM è l’edizione che si trova preinstallata su un computer al momento dell’acquisto ed è per certi versi indentica alla Retail. La RTM invece è una versione che non è più nella fase di sviluppo, ma che non è ancora stata rilasciata al pubblico e che è nella fase finale di testing; questa è successiva alla RC, ovvero la “release candidate”. L’ultima invece è la Retail, che come funzionalità è uguale alla OEM, ma viene venduta separatamente all’acquisto di un computer e spesso a prezzi maggiori.

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8 responses to “Differences between OEM, RTM, RC and Retail”

  1. amitmcitp says :

    great information

  2. Jacque says :

    is there any real difference between RTM and retail verions ? i mean do they put extra updates and stuff into retail that isnt in RTM ? – I guess what im asking is if you are running RTM build, is there any reason to update to retail ? or is there no real difference in the builds ?

    • Riccardo Manta says :

      Hi Jacque. The most significant difference between retail and RTM, is that the first one is the customer released version of Windows 8. The RTM is a free one released during the test period and, even if they are almost the same version, you will need an OEM or Retail version to get all the future updates.
      Finally, yes, if you have a RTM you must get the customer release.
      Hope this helps 🙂

  3. SESHU says :

    What About MSDN version. This is also same as Retail or no???

    • Riccardo Manta says :

      Actually, is designed especially for businesses so it has special features built on enterprises needs. If you’re just a normal user, you can easily ignore it. 😉

  4. Furtado says :

    smart explanation thank you.

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