Sometimes I wonder if the people who run Microsoft's licensing policy unit (or whatever they call it) actually bother to find out what goes on out there, in real-world computerland. They've recently announced the introduction of a new OEM system builders' license, the terms of which state that an OEM copy of Windows XP may only be sold if preinstalled on a fully-assembled computer system.

Up until 31st August this year it was perfectly okay for vendors to sell OEM versions of Windows XP with what Microsoft called 'non-peripheral' computer components. That meant it was okay to sell OEM software with say, a motherboard, or a hard drive, or even with an IDE cable, but not with a printer.

Hundreds of thousands of home-builders took advantage of this when constructing their machines, but now that's all come to an end.........or has it?

I visited the site of one of the country's biggest online retailers today, and they were happily offering OEM copies of WinXP Professional for around £92. Something's not right, and I'm trying to delve into the why's and the wherefores with Microsoft as we speak.