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statikregimen
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 29, 2019 11:49 pm    Post subject: Windows Licenses & VMs? Reply with quote

Hi all,

Thanks for reading and hope you're having a nice weekend!

Thought I'd drop this here, as I'm sure I'm not the first person in the community to do this. Will continue my own research, but so far haven't found any straightforward information.

Wanting to legally virtualize Windows on my Gentoo hosts. I don't see any reason I can't just purchase licenses from Microsoft and install them to VMs, but I'm a little concerned about re-installing, as I'm a little fuzzy on just how all the modern UEFI stuff works. It seems like, on bare metal, once a Windows license is used, it's forever attached to that motherboard and is difficult, if not impossible, to transfer it. But how does this work out in a VM?

Am I able to destroy and re-create my VM at will, using the same license? I'm not even sure exactly what I get when I purchase. The only option appears to be to download it after purchase, but will I get a key or what? So far, this appears to be the correct place to purchase: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/windows-10-pro/DF77X4D43RKT/0002?icid=W10Pro_upsell_071817&activetab=pivot%3aoverviewtab

Hoping to find out for sure how it works before I spend $200 on a Pro license.

Cheers.
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The Doctor
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2019 1:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There seems to be a lot of intentionally grey area here. In general, put your key in and it will just work. On one or two occasions I've had a VM request the key again and then authenticate and no problem. Unfortunately my switch from the (broken) vmware to virtualbox killed my vm and would not accept the key anymore so no more vm for me.

The vm is not going to change hardware so it won't trip the "things have changed" windows spider sense. From a technical side you should not have any issue and windows will generally let you authenticate a few times before locking you out. In theory, your vm should have infinite life, but that does imply reinstalling is not an infinite option. Backups that have already been activated should not give you any issues, just like real hardware. Also, the OEM lock in applies to the install bought on hardware, not when you actually buy windows.

Now, legally remember that one key = one install, virtual or physical. Running multiple instances would not be legal without the appropriate key(s). The EULA specifically says virtualization is allowed. But one instance per key only.
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erm67
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2019 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

https://github.com/alexivkin/Petove

Have a look at this project, don't know if It supports uefi but It worked for me. I was even able to run the virtualized physical environment on a different host without any problem with the activation.

The problem Is to find enough physical environment to virtualize
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2019 2:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Always thought that if you've purchased a PC along with an install, then that particular install is locked to that machine for life - so you can upgrade, but you may have some explaining to MS before your install is unlocked (it was like that with win 7).

On the other hand, if you've bought the OS licence separate, then yes you can reuse one box per licence.

If you're doing an installation for commercial purposes, might be better to get legal council first :)
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statikregimen
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2019 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you all very much for the replies! Answered my question, and then some :D

Petove looks very useful! It raises another question, or rather clarification I didn't think to ask in the OP...

The two Gentoo hosts are laptops that originally came with Windows 10 pre-installed (so technically, I would be re-installing Windows on to the same hardware....just "wrapped" in a VM). With what I've read (and what's been said here), it does not sound like there is really any way to transfer & re-use those licenses (even though it may technically be legal). I'm guessing it goes back to the OEM lock that The Doctor mentioned in the very first reply...

Petove just made me think perhaps, if I can trick Windows into thinking the VM is the original laptop, and also trick it into reading it's activation data (whatever that may be) from the hardware UEFI (or however that works), it might just fly. But as indicated, I'm way out of my depth here and would not know where to start on that later requirement. Edit: after reading the Petov explanation a couple more times, it almost sounds like this is what it does (lets me move Windows to a VM), but I'd have to re-install windows to the laptops first, which is a great deal of pure suck...

Alas, I could go back to dual-booting but meh, meh, and more meh. Every time I do that, I end up just using Windows all the time because switching back and forth sucks (not to mention a huge waste of relatively small SSDs).
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erm67
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2019 9:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

statikregimen wrote:
after reading the Petov explanation a couple more times, it almost sounds like this is what it does (lets me move Windows to a VM), but I'd have to re-install windows to the laptops first, which is a great deal of pure suck...

In fact the purpose of petove is to move your windows partition into a virtual environment, this is a violation of the EULA but not everybody cares about that since is not valid in every country. There were a couple of forums, mostly ubuntuers, that had instructions to do what petove does progragmatically and it worked well even doing it by hand. uefi complicates things a bit but not too much I think but I never tried. secure boot will not work for sure. but UEFI is not mandatory on x86_64.
If you virtualize your laptop, once you are sure everything worked as expected, you should make sure that only the virtualized and activated windows will be used otherwise there might be problems, Microsoft could even rewoke your licence. They accept a few changes in you hardware configuration, so that you can replace components without invalidating the license. you could try to virtualize your physical environment, without UEFI and see what happens, probably if they notice the activation will simply fail, at worse you'll have to buy a used licence on ebay for a few bucks (it is legal here). Remember one thing, if the virtualized environment is activated and work as expected for a few weeks ( they are slow) you will NEVER EVER start again the old physical environment. You can replace a few components (5 maybe) but not go back and forth between 2 installations.

If you do please report what happens :-)

EDIT: wait a minute, my laptop has a UEFI bios and I was able to move the windows installation with petove, to a virtualbox machine without UEFI, but I had a bios with a valid win8 slic.
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statikregimen
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2019 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
If you do please report what happens :-)


I most certainly will, however after reading your latest reply, if I risk disassociating or worse, losing those licenses for the bare metal, I am more strongly considering purchasing a new one. I would like to have Pro, anyway for what I want to do and the laptops, afaik, both came with only Home...Decisions, decisions =/

Thanks!!!
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The Doctor
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 01, 2019 12:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not a lawyer, but I used to work with a guy who would visualize old installs for a living and, well, I can't vouch for the 100% accuracy or legality of this but you may be able to reuse your key on the laptop since they key only goes to one install and you still own the hardware. It may or may not work and the lawyer may or may not be happy with you.

If I where in your position considering purchasing a license to save the bare metal one to a nonexistent install I would consider there to be nothing to save. In any case you are going to have to buy at least one additional copy of windows. Ummm.... do as I say, don't do as I do?
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