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Windows 7: Virtual Environment: Reactivation Required?


05 Dec 2011   #1

W7x64 Pro
 
 
Virtual Environment: Reactivation Required?

This may be self-explanatory however if I have a machine (say HP, Dell, etc.) that comes with media + COA (and in Dell/HP's case self-activate) why does the BIOS info not pass through to the guest OS.

Even if I image + mount the HDD as a guest OS?

Sorry if this is a dumb question - wasn't sure where else to put it.

thx for replies

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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05 Dec 2011   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Win 7 x64 Home Premium (and x86 VirtualBox VM)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by winstontj View Post
This may be self-explanatory however if I have a machine (say HP, Dell, etc.) that comes with media + COA (and in Dell/HP's case self-activate) why does the BIOS info not pass through to the guest OS.

Even if I image + mount the HDD as a guest OS?

Sorry if this is a dumb question - wasn't sure where else to put it.

thx for replies
EVERY machine (whether bare-metal or virtual) on which Windows is installed requires a valid license.
Direct OEM licenses (such as Dell, Tosh, or whatever) can be installed ONLY on bare-metal machines

HOWEVER: If, and ONLY if, you choose to install a bare-metal OS which is retail (or Linux, etc.) and then shoose to install the Windows OS that came with the machine as a VM (using the COA Key), then you may use that installation.
This abides by the one-key, one-install rule, and with the licensing rules for Windows.

This means that you CANNOT install a Direct OEM as host, with the COA Key as Guest.
You CAN install a Retail Key/License as host, with the COA Key as guest.
You CANNOT use an Upgrade system iin eitehr case without a separate valid license.


Hope that makes sense - if not, please post back for more details (and include exactly how you would like to use your available Keys)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Dec 2011   #3

W7x64 Pro
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by NoelDP View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by winstontj View Post
This may be self-explanatory however if I have a machine (say HP, Dell, etc.) that comes with media + COA (and in Dell/HP's case self-activate) why does the BIOS info not pass through to the guest OS.

Even if I image + mount the HDD as a guest OS?

Sorry if this is a dumb question - wasn't sure where else to put it.

thx for replies
EVERY machine (whether bare-metal or virtual) on which Windows is installed requires a valid license.
Direct OEM licenses (such as Dell, Tosh, or whatever) can be installed ONLY on bare-metal machines

HOWEVER: If, and ONLY if, you choose to install a bare-metal OS which is retail (or Linux, etc.) and then shoose to install the Windows OS that came with the machine as a VM (using the COA Key), then you may use that installation.
This abides by the one-key, one-install rule, and with the licensing rules for Windows.

This means that you CANNOT install a Direct OEM as host, with the COA Key as Guest.
You CAN install a Retail Key/License as host, with the COA Key as guest.
You CANNOT use an Upgrade system iin eitehr case without a separate valid license.


Hope that makes sense - if not, please post back for more details (and include exactly how you would like to use your available Keys)
Everything makes sense - why do they deactivate when they move among the cluster?

(Forget about COA - just OEM for now)

If I have an 8-Node high-availability cluster and one goes down how does that deactivate the VM? (enterprise or Pro)
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06 Dec 2011   #4

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Win 7 x64 Home Premium (and x86 VirtualBox VM)
 
 

Now you're talking about a totally different scenario!
You are now talking about using Volume Licenses in VM's - and that's something I know little about, except that the VM's would have to be licensed using MAK rather than KMS Keys, since a KMS Key relies on the BIOS SLIC table to confirm eligibility, and the SLIC table isn't available to a VM.

If you can reproduce the problem, run an MGADiag report in the affected VM, and post the resulr. I'll see if I can make any sense out of it.
To properly analyse and solve problems with Activation and Validation, we need to see a full copy of the report produced by the MGADiag tool (download and save to desktop - http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=52012 )
Once saved, run the tool.
Click on the Continue button, which will produce the report.
To copy the report to your response, click on the Copy button in the tool (ignore any error messages at this point), and then paste (using either r-click/Paste, or Ctrl+V ) into your response.
- **in your own thread**, please
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Dec 2011   #5

W7x64 Pro
 
 

Thanks for the reply - I'm not using volume licensing though. I tried to run VMware's ESXi 5 on a Dell machine that has a COA - I used VMware's Standalone Converter to convert the OS from a HDD to a VM image - and then installed ESXi 5.0 and imported the VM image... and it didn't stay activated. (I was able to use the COA sticker to activate the OS)

That had me puzzled but I sort of got over it since the COA sticker activated the machine and all was well - but then I had the next issue...

I have an 8-node server (really its just two of these: Super Micro Computer, Inc. - 2U Twin^2 Solutions ) and I had a memory controller die. Three Windows 7 VM's were running on the node that died - all three were from an OEM System Builder's 3-pack that I purchased from NewEgg. When I migrated the VMs off the bad node onto another one (which is literally an identical node, same CPU, size & type RAM, mobo, hdd, NIC, etc.) the 3 OS'es asked to be re-validated...

My question & concern is #1 how & why is this happening and #2 what can I do to prevent this?

Is it because I'm running Windows 7 Pro not Windows 7 Enterprise? The Windows 7 Ent versions I'm running are activated with OEM keys as well - NOT using Volume Licensing.

These systems were built initially back when Windows 7 had just been released. The Ent images were a developer's thing as part of MSDN and when we installed them we just went to microsoft.com and purchased an OEM key. I thought Enterprise was different in that it didn't activate online like Pro??

Also, FWIW, we were able to backup the VM's, upgrade from ESX to ESXi 5.0 and restore on the same exact node/HW and everything was fine (no re-activation required).

I realize that "technically" Pro does not support virtualization in the little Wiki diagram but since we had same problem with Ent and Pro I'm guessing this is something else.

Thx for the replies - very helpful so far.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Dec 2011   #6

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Win 7 x64 Home Premium (and x86 VirtualBox VM)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by winstontj View Post
I have an 8-node server (really its just two of these: Super Micro Computer, Inc. - 2U Twin^2 Solutions ) and I had a memory controller die. Three Windows 7 VM's were running on the node that died - all three were from an OEM System Builder's 3-pack that I purchased from NewEgg. When I migrated the VMs off the bad node onto another one (which is literally an identical node, same CPU, size & type RAM, mobo, hdd, NIC, etc.) the 3 OS'es asked to be re-validated...

My question & concern is #1 how & why is this happening and #2 what can I do to prevent this?

Is it because I'm running Windows 7 Pro not Windows 7 Enterprise? The Windows 7 Ent versions I'm running are activated with OEM keys as well - NOT using Volume Licensing.

These systems were built initially back when Windows 7 had just been released. The Ent images were a developer's thing as part of MSDN and when we installed them we just went to microsoft.com and purchased an OEM key. I thought Enterprise was different in that it didn't activate online like Pro??

Also, FWIW, we were able to backup the VM's, upgrade from ESX to ESXi 5.0 and restore on the same exact node/HW and everything was fine (no re-activation required).
First thing is that you should NOT be using purchased OEM licenses in VM's. They are for use in machines which the builder/installer intends to sell to 3rd parties. You are not actually allowed to use them yourself. ( read the OEM SB license here - OEM System Builder Licensing )

It's quite common for VM's to require re-activation if/when things change.
VBox I understand has a habit of changing the virtual hardware sufficiently between builds that re-activation is fairly common.
VPC was better behaved, but nowhere near as flexible, and is now unsupported. WVPC which replaced it has yet to be updated at all.
I have no experience with other VM hosts.
I would be quite possible for VM hosts to change virtual motherboard ID's - with the result that an License would go out-of-tolerance, and require re-activation by phone - which could easily be refused by MS in the case of an OEM license as a breach of the licensing terms.

Pro fully supports working in a VM (or hosting one,for that matter)
Enterprise is a Volume License Upgrade-Only option, and requires the prior purchase of a valid Pro license as the base from which it upgrades.
The MSDN copies of Enterprise that you got were actually Volume licensed, but with special licensing rights so that they could be installed clean.

Are you saying that you abandoned using MSDN Licenses here, to use OEM instead? Are these production VM's or development ones?

There are two activation scenarios for Volume Licenses - KMS and MAK.
KMS licenses require a BIOS SLIC table first, and a special KMS server which they activate against. That KMS server in turn must be activated against the MS servers.
MAK licenses can be managed by a VAMT server, but end up activating against the MS servers Managing Activation Using the Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT)

Both KMS and MAK licenses are Upgrades - therefore require valid OEM or Retail licenses to upgrade from.
Precise Volume License terms depend on the model used - and would have to be agreed prior to purchase.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Dec 2011   #7

W7x64 Pro
 
 

Noel - thanks so much for your help & replies! I really appreciate it.

These are production machines - so MSDN is not being used (or MSDN keys).

I inherited this mess and there is a 99% chance that we'll migrate to W8 as soon as the initial release bugs are worked out so between now and then I'm simply trying to live within the "spirit" of the License Agreement (with things like using OEM myself, etc.).

Each OS has a valid key, etc. They were ALL purchased from NewEgg.com and all were paid for at the same rate/price that any other normal retail individual would pay.

The real issue is that I didn't do the initial setup of these VMs and it was done a while ago (back during Windows 7 beta and developer preview days) and they didn't really ever change the configurations in the HyperV as time went on. To be honest a lot of the Windows 7 images are legacy Developer Preview images that they activated & installed SP1 over so its been a bit of a buggy mess.

I understand the Dell/HP COA situation and how those images activate within Dell/HP BIOS - One of my current dev projects is dealing with Apple (both good & bad) because I VM'd about 60 Lion instances on an HP server running Xen XCP just to prove it could be done easily... The developers were quite shocked (in a good way) but the lawyers weren't very happy. (got a job offer out of it though )

I want to start using some of the more advanced features of VMware & ESXi 5 - High Availability, Load Balancing, Failover, automated VM migration (for failover and load balancing), etc. and all of these issues make each VM system (Host+Guest) somewhat dynamic.

I'm just concerned that if I enable these things that everything will start to blow up and require re-activation every day or every few hours.

I'm working on these issues with W8 right now so what I'm looking for is a short term (18-24 months) solution because the hardware is somewhat old and we'll scrap all the old and start fresh with our W8 stuff.

Thanks again for your help and replies.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Dec 2011   #8

W7 X-64 RTM,SUSE 11.1, XP PRO SP3 as a VM, VMware ESXi
 
 

Hi there

Apart from the issues of OEM and VM's you obviously had these working initially so I have to assume these are Valid licenses even though you were running these as VM's.

Note however converting a VM to run under ESXi even if it ran under vmware workstation previously WILL always cause re-activation --- the Virtual Bios in ESXi is SIGNIFICANTLY different to the Virtual Bios in vmware workstation / player.

Activation should work although it depends on the rigourousness with wich MS apply the rules.

If you basically just want to test out a load of configurations under ESXi what I would do in your case is to sign up to Technet and download (Legally) a copy of Windows 7 Enterprise --this can be activated almost an unlimited number of times -- the only proviso with use is that it shouldn't be used as a "Production" system. In fact your scenario sounds like a perfect use for a technet subscription.

If you are doing this type of work for a company they might even pay or contribute towards the subscription -- and if it's purely private work you can claim the subscription cost back off your tax (Educational / Professional training costs). Most countries allow this type of tax refund.

If you need these on production machines then your company will have to buy a few Windows 7 licenses -- note however that identical VM's can be cloned so providing you aren't running them concurrently only ONE activation will be needed.

If your company can't afford 2 or 3 Windows 7 licenses then I'd suggest --collect your salary and move on !!!! -- assuming that these Windows 7 machines are being used to make money for the organisation.

If these are purely "Lab type" machines -- i.e production - but used for testing software / configuration / hardware you might be able to hobble a deal with MS anyway.

Cheers
jimbo
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Dec 2011   #9

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Win 7 x64 Home Premium (and x86 VirtualBox VM)
 
 

As you've probably noticed, I'm at the limit of my knowledge when you start talking about VM's and servers in the same breath
One or the other I can cope with, but put the two together and I start to think

I have a suspicion that your scenario of reactivations isn't far off the mark - but that so long as the node is in a stable state, once re-activated, it shouldn't get upset until you change the Virtual hardware again, either by switching virtual motherboards or real ones. I don't know how much of the real board a VMWare VM actually sees, and the triggers for re-activation aren't the same as they were in XP, where changing a network card and a graphics card at the same time meant that if you changed the HD as well within 120 days, you could pretty much bank on needing reactivation.
The theory is that only motherboard changes will cause reactivation in Win 7/8 - but how the motherboard is defined in the activation/SPP software isn't published AFAIK, and anyhow I've at least heard of cases where updating the chipset drivers can cause a re-activation request, and I know that broken Inter Rapid Storage drivers can lead to systems failing the WGA testing that goes on, resulting in non-genuine notifications.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Dec 2011   #10

W7x64 Pro
 
 

Hi Jimbo,
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by jimbo45 View Post
Apart from the issues of OEM and VM's you obviously had these working initially so I have to assume these are Valid licenses even though you were running these as VM's.
Yes 100% above-board. Legally purchased from a well-known retail store, no funny business with this - there is too much on the line to try and steal a $130 license.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by jimbo45 View Post
Note however converting a VM to run under ESXi even if it ran under vmware workstation previously WILL always cause re-activation --- the Virtual Bios in ESXi is SIGNIFICANTLY different to the Virtual Bios in vmware workstation / player.
There are about 30 of them (the VM's) running in a production environment. They were previously running on an older version of VMware (ESX 4). All Enterprise Plus VMware software and nothing similar to Player or Workstation.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by jimbo45 View Post
Activation should work although it depends on the rigourousness with wich MS apply the rules.
It activates - it just asks for re-activation if you move it from one node to another which is even more generic and homogeneous than moving from one Workstation or Player to another since these are exactly identical nodes with identical Hyper-V running on bare-metal.

My concern is that you can only use an activation key so many times before you have to call... then you can only call so many times, etc...

I have Technet subscription (personally, I'm a "consultant" not an employee) and I have brought this issue up with MSFT however I asked here as well because sometimes MSFT can take a while... although I haven't posted this on the MSFT site (because "technically" some of the licenses aren't being applied properly - although purchased and legit, they aren't all 100% kosher but well within the "spirit of the user license").

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by jimbo45 View Post
If you basically just want to test out a load of configurations under ESXi what I would do in your case is to sign up to Technet and download (Legally) a copy of Windows 7 Enterprise --this can be activated almost an unlimited number of times
Depending on your subscription type & status you usually get about 50 activations per OS before they block you... ask me how I know

However - if you call them up ahead of time and let them know what you are doing and tell them how many activations you need, they can extend it. As long as you communicate you are OK - this is one of those situations where it is ALWAYS better to ask permission first vs. beg for forgiveness later.

This however is a full production system so no MSDN keys.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by jimbo45 View Post
In fact your scenario sounds like a perfect use for a technet subscription.
I'm currently doing this with W8 in development right now - although you can get the same version of W8 (free) from Microsoft right now so I have been using that for my VMs and software comparability testing.

I currently have about 75 W8 test VM's (and 60 Lion VMs ) that I'm in the process of migrating back and forth between an 8-node ESXi 5 Host to test failover.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by jimbo45 View Post
If you need these on production machines then your company will have to buy a few Windows 7 licenses -- note however that identical VM's can be cloned so providing you aren't running them concurrently only ONE activation will be needed.
Interesting... I just cloned one and ran it... It started out as "activated & genuine" but when I re-activated it (type "activate" in the start menu search bar) it came back as not activated. I assume this is because the other VM had hit the internet and now MSFT thinks its not genuine anymore??? I don't really understand how that process works.

Either way, thank you very much for your reply to my post - this is an issue that I hadn't anticipated. Cloning a VM and trying to run it on the same exact Host is an issue as is reverting to earlier snapshots (in some cases).

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by jimbo45 View Post
If your company can't afford 2 or 3 Windows 7 licenses then I'd suggest --collect your salary and move on !!!! -- assuming that these Windows 7 machines are being used to make money for the organisation.
I 100% agree!!!

Actually it's a bit funny... Since I'm an independent consultant I'm usually broke and I can't afford 2-3 licenses

Also - even funnier... we have two totally separate ISPs, networks, etc. at the company. One is "clean" where they run Lucid Server on local workstations and do most of the productive, profit-making work, etc. and the other we jokingly call our "internet" or "porn" ISP. Each person has a second (thin client) machine where they access these Windows 7 instances so they can check email, browse the internet (watch porn... kidding), etc.

So not only can I not afford 2-3 Windows 7 licenses... These things probably don't help the bottom line very much.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by jimbo45 View Post
If these are purely "Lab type" machines -- i.e production - but used for testing software / configuration / hardware you might be able to hobble a deal with MS anyway.
MSFT has been very understanding and encouraging of this type of thing... Personally I think its so that they can phase out XP & Vista totally and force everyone onto Windows 7 & W8... The more people they have working on W8 development and using Windows 7 as the base platform the less XP & Vista they have out there...
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