Windows Licenses & Activation for VHDs - Native Boot & Virtualized in VMs - Details?

Discussion in 'Virtualization' started by crashnburn, Jun 22, 2015.

  1. crashnburn

    crashnburn MDL Senior Member

    Mar 18, 2010
    #1 crashnburn, Jun 22, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2015
    Windows Licenses & Activation for VHDs - Native Boot & Virtualized in VMs - Details?

    Note: I ask this keeping Portability of .VHD/.VHDX installs in mind.
    I'd like to move them from hardware to hardware (like the WinToGo/WinUSB) when needed but use/ boot internally (for performance as USB is not good enough).
    PS: At times I may be using a Portable machine and at times a heavier workstation..and dont mind Sysprepping the VHD when moving in between. Also, when I buy NEW hardware, Migration is as easy as dropping the file.

    Question is.. (guide me if I am thinking correctly based on so much I have read on MDL regarding Retail vs OEM licenses)

    Is the license and activation...

    For a VHD ..That is Native boot..
    - Is it Attached to Host Machine Hardware?
    ... Retail (VHD can be moved anywhere to any hardware & then needs reactivation)
    ... OEM (VHD cant be moved - unless underlying hardware supports OEM) ?

    For a VHD inside - VMs / Hyper V/ VMWare etc ...
    - Is it Inserted into/ attached to the VM Guest or VM Host's Virtual Hardware?

    How do these work for Win 7, 8 and 10 (if at all possible?)?
    PS: Primarily curious how this operates for Win 8 / 7..

    Under what scenarios would the license/ activation get/ or not get "messed" when the .VHD is moved around?
    When would it need simple reactivation and/ or when could it not be fixed?

    PS: I am including .VHD/.VHDX in the above questioning
  2. ZaForD

    ZaForD MDL Expert

    Jan 26, 2008
    Hi Crashnburn,
    I've haven't worked with licensing for a long while, so take this as a best guess, rather than fact. ;)

    Native boot:
    Whether you boot from .VHD/HDD/SDD or Internal/External drive makes no difference.
    The type of license OEM/GVLK/Retail dictates activation and movability.
    So, Yes. Its attached to the Machines Hardware.

    Virtual Machines:
    For Client SKU's only Trial/Retail/GVLK licenses can be used in VM's, as they are the only SKU's that a VM can activate.
    For Server SKU's most now allow at least one VM install as well as the normal Hardware install. There are varying ways to activate them, depending on the VM software.
    Each VM has a unique ID which is based on the Hosts OS/Hardware, and activation is attached to that.

    Only works with the Enterprise SKU, which is activated via KMS, which in turn deals with any re-activation issues due to hardware changing.
    (Enterprise can boot from a .VHD)

    All other SKU's (with the possible exception of Professional which can use KMS) will have activation issues, due to the hardware changing. WinToUSB has a way around this. But as I've never used it so I can't really advise on it.