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Windows 7: Moving a Windows 7 Virtual Machine from one host to another


20 Jan 2014   #1

64 bit Windows 7 Home Premium
 
 
Moving a Windows 7 Virtual Machine from one host to another

I was thinking of creating a Windows 7 VM on one host computer that I have at home.

If I decide down the road to move the VM to another PC that has completely different hardware specs, do I need to reactivate the Windows 7 license again or would I not have to because nothing has changed within the VM itself?

Thank you

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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21 Jan 2014   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 X64 (Windows 8.1, Linux Mint, Windows XP and others in VM)
 
 

I believe as long as the host is the same you can simply copy the VM file and run it from the second machine. I'm really not sure about the License. I've done that with Linux Distros but the hardware was similar. I presume there would be some Hardware updates.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Jan 2014   #3

Windows 7 Professional x64 Linux Mint 16
 
 

I think the same rules as retail vs oem would apply, but that is a very good question. Never had a VM running long enough to even think about activation.

I bet Wolfgang has an answer.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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21 Jan 2014   #4

64 bit Windows 7 Home Premium
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by AddRAM View Post
I think the same rules as retail vs oem would apply, but that is a very good question. Never had a VM running long enough to even think about activation.

I bet Wolfgang has an answer.
According to this ZDNet article ( Windows Activation trips up virtual machine clones, even on same system | ZDNet ), copying the VM as opposed to cloning it will not trigger a reactivation.

But, this article is from 2007, couldn't find anything more recent, so I'm not sure if anything has changed since.

It would be nice to get a few more opinions from people (Wolfgang?) who might have gone through this process before.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Jan 2014   #5
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Since I was 'paged', LOL, let me give you my experience. I have a bunch of VMware Player systems including Windows 8 that I copied to an external SSD after initial installation. I run those virtual systems from this external SSD on different systems here and in Germany.

Even when I copy e.g. the Windows 8 VMware Player folder into the internal disk of any system, ther is no activation problem when I run it from the copied folder.

As far as I unserstand it, VMware Player is the system and not the box on which it runs. My Windows 8 license is a retail license that I bought in the early days when they offered it for $40. I have never tried with an OEM license but see no reason why it would not work the same way - remember, VMware Player is the system, not the box on which it runs.

Here is the whole saga if you want to study the mechanics of it. Most is with Linux though where you have no licensing problems. But it also shows 7/8.1.

PS: I think the author of the linked article complicates things. In VMware Player all it needs is to copy 1 folder - that is the whole virtual machine (with, of course, a bunch of subfolders and files). The same goes for backup. Just copy that 1 folder - beats imaging.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Jan 2014   #6

Windows 7 x64 and numerous virtual machines
 
 

I can add my experience to this as I have many Windows Virtual machines on 3 different PC's. I have recently upgraded 2 of them with new 8 core CPU's and motherboards and later different video cards. The following happened, the Windows 7 versions ALL asked for validation and reactivation anytime the hardware of the host machine changed. Windows XP and Vista had no such issues. Vista asked once when the CPU was changed, when the video card was replaced ......nothing. Windows 8 Pro and 8.1 Pro had no such issues either. The windows 7 versions that had to be reactivated included everything from Starter to Ultimate. I had about 5 VM of 7 Enterprise on each machine and I figure that is how I went through 500 activations in 4 years. You may ask why I had so many well because I could and I fooled around with them knowing if I broke it I could copy it back. I have a hard drive fail with all the VM's on it and only the windows 7 OS were subject to scrutiny. I honestly feel they (M$) are looking at any way to move people to Windows 8. I do have 2 x 8 Pro licenses and use them for VM to keep up the knowledge.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Jan 2014   #7

64 bit Windows 7 Home Premium
 
 

Thanks everyone for your comments.

Coming from Linux, I really enjoy the flexibility of not having to worry about licensing. However, I do have a couple of programs that need Windows and hence why I still use it here and there.

Before I go out and buy a license, I'd like to test moving a Windows VM from one computer (host) to another computer (host) and see if I'm also forced to reactivate. Only problem is I don't have a spare valid license for Windows 7 or 8. Any thoughts (if possible) on how I can test what happens?

I do have a Windows 7 Enterprise 90 day trial DVD and I'm sure the Windows 8 Enterprise 90 day trial is also available for free from the Microsoft site.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Jan 2014   #8
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

If I follow what Tony said, I would make a trial with the Windows 8 license. There you probably have a better chance. They may throw you out after 30 days, but that's enough for a trial.

Install it under VMware Player on a Linux or Windows host. Then you can move the virtual partition (which is only 1 folder) to any system that has VMware Player installed. I do that with my Windows 8.1 all the time.

VMware Player - Install Windows 8
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Jan 2014   #9

Windows 7 x64 and numerous virtual machines
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by whs View Post
If I follow what Tony said, I would make a trial with the Windows 8 license. There you probably have a better chance. They may throw you out after 30 days, but that's enough for a trial.

Install it under VMware Player on a Linux or Windows host. Then you can move the virtual partition (which is only 1 folder) to any system that has VMware Player installed. I do that with my Windows 8.1 all the time.

VMware Player - Install Windows 8
Agreed, this would be the only case I would say get Windows 8 as opposed to 7. I think it is clear M$ is being lenient with 8 licenses with regard to reauthorizing on different hardware. Please note I do not condone piracy in anyway. I assume there is a trigger you can pull to wake the activation process and if you have a license you have nothing to fear. Sometimes a call to M$ will fix it too.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Jan 2014   #10
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

In my case and in his case it is only a matter of playing with the system. Those are no production systems. I would say that the 'piracy aspect' is really not applicable.

They do require a seperate key for VM installations. But at the same time they should accept that one uses the functions of VM - e.g. moving the VM folder around.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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