OEMs that want to have the latest version of Windows on their machines are going to find that things are a little different this time around. The new process should be more secure, cutting down on any piracy that may or may not happen.
In the past, many OEMs who were shipping PCs with the most recent version of Windows would often share the same activation key, but this made life easy for pirates and rogue OEMs alike. This time, Microsoft is demanding a little more, and will be requiring OEMs to write a unique activation key into the BIOS of each machine, and ship them with the operating pre-installed. OEMs also going to have to get all keys directly from Microsoft, no ifs ands or buts.
All and all, this shouldn't really affect the end-user much, that is unless the end user is a pirate. This new policy should tighten up a few loopholes that pirates have been exploiting for a while now. Of course, the whole change of policy is kind of optimistic, and assumes that people will be attempting to pirate the new operating system. In all likelihood, users who buy a new computer and are unhappy with Windows 8's tablet-y interface may very well look into pirating older versions of the OS. [Maximum PC]