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OEM Windows Activation got you down?

  • 1.  OEM Windows Activation got you down?

    Posted Sep 08, 2006 09:46 PM

    I work at a college that is a Dell shop. We are Dell...soup to nuts. As I began to explore virtualization, and more specifically P2V apps, I ran in to a road block with Windows activation after I would P2V one of our systems. We have a site license for all of our desktop OS but Windows would have none of it. Even a call to Microsoft woulldn't resolve this activation issue.

    Then I had a thought... What if I performed a repair of the OS with my site license copy? Sure enough after starting the repair with my copy it prompted me for my key. After the repair completed (which is basically an in-place install) I was able to fire up my virtualized Dell without blowing out My Docs, Favs etc...

    Hadn't seen this solution posted here, so I thought I'd pass it along. My apologies if this is common knowledge.

  • 2.  RE: OEM Windows Activation got you down?

    Posted Sep 08, 2006 10:36 PM

    Well, yes, this will work; however you are in violation of your OEM agreement with Microsoft, as the OEM versions are only legally allowed to run on the hardware they are sold/bundled with.

  • 3.  RE: OEM Windows Activation got you down?

    Posted Mar 08, 2009 02:25 PM

    You are correct in what you say, however if you do the inplace repair on the original Hardware ie the one hosting hte OEM version of windows, thereby converting it to either Retail, or Volume you are not breaching any EULA restrictions, the breach only comes if you convert first. and even this is moot, because you are changing license use to an authorised volume or retail instance where restrictions on hardware do not count. The EULA Breach will only occur if you reactivate the OEM license on the Virtualised Guest this is a definate breach, I also have resevations regarding the legality of SMBIOS.reflectHost = "TRUE" as the Hardware is actually VMware hardware, and the OS is spoofed into believing it is still running on the original hardware. this may be lawful if it is actually the Original Hardware, but definately not if it is only the same Manufacturer. (the most common use case)

    If you found this or any other answer useful please consider the use of the Helpful or correct buttons to award points

    Tom Howarth VCP / vExpert

    VMware Communities User Moderator


    contributing author for the upcoming book "VMware Virtual Infrastructure Security: Securing ESX and the Virtual Environment”.

  • 4.  RE: OEM Windows Activation got you down?

    Posted Sep 12, 2006 08:47 AM

    You can also try this...

    (under the section "Enabling the Physical Hardware's OEM ID to Be Seen by the Virtual Machine")

  • 5.  RE: OEM Windows Activation got you down?

    Posted Nov 23, 2006 10:19 AM

    So you repaired the VM, not the original PC, right? I have the same problem with an old PC which I connect to occasionally - I'd like to avoid repairing XP on the PC itself in case it breaks it.

  • 6.  RE: OEM Windows Activation got you down?

    Posted Feb 09, 2007 01:39 PM

    I didn't get an answer, so I'll answer it myself :). When you boot the converted XP machine, you'll be told its an OEM license. You can do one of two things:

    (1) Upgrade the original machine from OEM to non-OEM XP license and then convert.

    (2) Boot the new VM with its CDROM pointing to an non-OEM XP installation disk and invoke a repair on the booting machine.

  • 7.  RE: OEM Windows Activation got you down?

    Posted Feb 09, 2007 10:17 PM

    If your new host happens to be the same hardware as your original physical source, you can try adding SMBIOS.reflectHost = "TRUE" to the .vmx configuration of the VM.

  • 8.  RE: OEM Windows Activation got you down?

    Posted Aug 12, 2007 05:25 PM

    This works pretty well with HP and Compaq host/guest combinations.

    I haven't had any success with Dell host/guest combinations.

    Haven't tried it with Gateway, IBM, Toshiba, etc.

  • 9.  RE: OEM Windows Activation got you down?

    Posted Mar 29, 2008 11:13 PM

    Would the repair method for Windows Server 2003 as well? In the case that you have all OEM licenses and purchase the appropriate number of datacenter licenses for each esx host, is there any upgrade path besides a total rebuild of each server?

  • 10.  RE: OEM Windows Activation got you down?

    Posted Jan 12, 2009 09:33 PM


    keep that copy of windows running on the machine you bought it with and use a windows product key changer, change to new licence and reactivate.

    ok if you have site licence or can spare a licence. Not so great if you dont want to put a new licence on.

  • 11.  RE: OEM Windows Activation got you down?

    Posted Sep 02, 2010 03:51 PM

    Yes, you can use the in place upgrade "repair" option on Windows 2003 Server. As noted in my earlier post to this thread, I had to do this for a client a few months back.

  • 12.  RE: OEM Windows Activation got you down?

    Posted May 01, 2011 01:45 PM

    Hi to all,

    i have a fsc server with 2003 oem and i want to virtualize on a new fsc server with esxi installed, the oem licenseis valid for fsc server but in this case i'm not sure about this...

    Thanks and best regards,

    Carlo S.

  • 13.  RE: OEM Windows Activation got you down?

    Posted May 02, 2011 06:40 AM


    You've replied to a very old thread.

    I'm not sure what an fsc server is, but if it came with an OEM Windows license, that license cannot be utilised on any physically different piece of hardware.

  • 14.  RE: OEM Windows Activation got you down?

    Posted Mar 08, 2009 01:06 PM

    Wow, this really got me around the activation issue. I lost my activtion key which was installed on the system I P2V'd 4 yrs ago. The new virtualization hardware is so much different than the original that Windows wanted me to reactivate or log off or shutdown. When it repaired the current installation, I was able to reenter a new license. The server booted up as normal. Thanks for the tip!

  • 15.  RE: OEM Windows Activation got you down?

    Posted Sep 02, 2010 03:48 PM

    Great thread! It sure would have come in handy for me about (2) months ago when I was building a remote, standby, DR network for one of our data protection subscribers. All the boxes were Windows 2003 Servers running on various DELL Poweredge systems. I too experienced the dread OEM vs. Retail vs, Volume license key issue with activation. After literally days and dozens of MS support "experts", I finally found one that pointed me to the repair option that was really an "in place upgrade".

    Long story short the new license keys needed to be SPLA Volume licenses for the "warm spare" DR network and, according to MS, since this was an entirely new license purchase (actually a monthly rental, but that's splitting hairs) for what is effectively new "hardware", not a violation of the OEM license agreement. As Tom correctly pointed out, with a straight P2V conversion where the original physical system is being retired, there is no EULA breach because you are simply converting the license from one "media" type to another. In my scenario, where the original production system will remain in use and the DR standby system will also be "live", an entirely new license was required or else the OEM EULA would have been violated (if the host hardware were the same and had I used the SIMBIOS.reflectHost hack) and I would not have been license compliant with MS (two systems running one license key).