Can I activate a VM with my key from the same machine?


amnesia

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I have a laptop that came with Windows 11 pre-installed that I've setup to dual boot with Arch Linux. I do most of my work in Linux, but I need to run a few Windows apps, which don't work properly with Wine. I created a recovery media from the Windows system and installed it in a VMWare Workstation virtual machine on Linux. Can I activate it with the key from my Windows boot, or does that violate the license? It's technically the same computer, but it's virtualized hardware so I believe Windows would see it as a different machine. Are there a fixed number of activations? Also does activating it in the VM break the real activation in the actual Windows boot partition?
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Win11 + Arch
    Computer type
    Laptop
Hi amnesia, welcome to the Eleven Forums 🙏

I recalled, our member @Bree touching on this in a thread he created. Post #5 by Bree specifically makes comment on your question.

 

My Computers

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  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 23H2 Build: 22631.3593
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    PC/Desktop
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    Sin-built
    CPU
    Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-4770K CPU @ 3.50GHz (4th Gen?)
    Motherboard
    ASUS ROG Maximus VI Formula
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    32.0 GB of I forget and the box is in storage.
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    PSU
    Silverstone 1500
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    NZXT Phantom 820 Full-Tower Case
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    Noctua NH-D15 Elite Class Dual Tower CPU Cooler / 6 x EziDIY 120mm / 2 x Corsair 140mm somethings / 1 x 140mm Thermaltake something / 2 x 200mm Corsair.
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  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro 22621.2215
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    LENOVO Yoga 7i EVO OLED 14" Touchscreen i5 12 Core 16GB/512GB
    CPU
    Intel Core 12th Gen i5-1240P Processor (1.7 - 4.4GHz)
    Memory
    16GB LPDDR5 RAM
    Graphics card(s)
    Graphics processor is an Intel Iris Xe
    Sound Card
    optimized with Dolby Atmos®
    Screen Resolution
    QHD 2880 x 1800 OLED
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    M.2 512GB
    Other Info
    …still on a horse.
I see, thanks. I guess this answers my question:

A VM is a separate device with its own unique hardware ID. It cannot activate from the host machine's digital licence. If you want to activate it you need to provide it with its own separate key.

Bummer.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Win11 + Arch
    Computer type
    Laptop
I see, thanks. I guess this answers my question:



Bummer.
Times are tough but there are always cheap keys to be bought.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 23H2 Build: 22631.3593
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Sin-built
    CPU
    Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-4770K CPU @ 3.50GHz (4th Gen?)
    Motherboard
    ASUS ROG Maximus VI Formula
    Memory
    32.0 GB of I forget and the box is in storage.
    Graphics Card(s)
    Gigabyte nVidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super OC 6GB
    Sound Card
    Onboard
    Monitor(s) Displays
    4 x LG 23MP75 1 x 24" LG M38H 1 x 32" LF6300 TV Monitor 1 x Wacom Pro 22" Tablet
    Screen Resolution
    All over the place
    Hard Drives
    2 x WD something Something 8TB HDD's / 2 x WD something Something 4TB HDD's / 1 x EVO 1TB SSD / 2 x QVO 1TB SSD's / 1 x EVO 250 GB SSD / 2 x QVO 1TB (External Hub) / 1 x EVO 1TB (Portable Backup Case)
    PSU
    Silverstone 1500
    Case
    NZXT Phantom 820 Full-Tower Case
    Cooling
    Noctua NH-D15 Elite Class Dual Tower CPU Cooler / 6 x EziDIY 120mm / 2 x Corsair 140mm somethings / 1 x 140mm Thermaltake something / 2 x 200mm Corsair.
    Keyboard
    Corsair K95 / Logitech diNovo Edge Wireless
    Mouse
    Logitech G402 / G502 / Mx Masters / MX Air Cordless
    Internet Speed
    100/40Mbps
    Browser
    All sorts
    Antivirus
    Kaspersky Premium
    Other Info
    I’m on a horse.
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro 22621.2215
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    LENOVO Yoga 7i EVO OLED 14" Touchscreen i5 12 Core 16GB/512GB
    CPU
    Intel Core 12th Gen i5-1240P Processor (1.7 - 4.4GHz)
    Memory
    16GB LPDDR5 RAM
    Graphics card(s)
    Graphics processor is an Intel Iris Xe
    Sound Card
    optimized with Dolby Atmos®
    Screen Resolution
    QHD 2880 x 1800 OLED
    Hard Drives
    M.2 512GB
    Other Info
    …still on a horse.
Someone once posted a link in here to these guys.
But always do your research.

US$5.99

 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 23H2 Build: 22631.3593
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Sin-built
    CPU
    Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-4770K CPU @ 3.50GHz (4th Gen?)
    Motherboard
    ASUS ROG Maximus VI Formula
    Memory
    32.0 GB of I forget and the box is in storage.
    Graphics Card(s)
    Gigabyte nVidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super OC 6GB
    Sound Card
    Onboard
    Monitor(s) Displays
    4 x LG 23MP75 1 x 24" LG M38H 1 x 32" LF6300 TV Monitor 1 x Wacom Pro 22" Tablet
    Screen Resolution
    All over the place
    Hard Drives
    2 x WD something Something 8TB HDD's / 2 x WD something Something 4TB HDD's / 1 x EVO 1TB SSD / 2 x QVO 1TB SSD's / 1 x EVO 250 GB SSD / 2 x QVO 1TB (External Hub) / 1 x EVO 1TB (Portable Backup Case)
    PSU
    Silverstone 1500
    Case
    NZXT Phantom 820 Full-Tower Case
    Cooling
    Noctua NH-D15 Elite Class Dual Tower CPU Cooler / 6 x EziDIY 120mm / 2 x Corsair 140mm somethings / 1 x 140mm Thermaltake something / 2 x 200mm Corsair.
    Keyboard
    Corsair K95 / Logitech diNovo Edge Wireless
    Mouse
    Logitech G402 / G502 / Mx Masters / MX Air Cordless
    Internet Speed
    100/40Mbps
    Browser
    All sorts
    Antivirus
    Kaspersky Premium
    Other Info
    I’m on a horse.
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro 22621.2215
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    LENOVO Yoga 7i EVO OLED 14" Touchscreen i5 12 Core 16GB/512GB
    CPU
    Intel Core 12th Gen i5-1240P Processor (1.7 - 4.4GHz)
    Memory
    16GB LPDDR5 RAM
    Graphics card(s)
    Graphics processor is an Intel Iris Xe
    Sound Card
    optimized with Dolby Atmos®
    Screen Resolution
    QHD 2880 x 1800 OLED
    Hard Drives
    M.2 512GB
    Other Info
    …still on a horse.
Not $5.99 but $39.99 with 15% off on one of the forums' sponser sites
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 23H2 22631.3737
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 7080
    CPU
    i9-10900 10 core 20 threads
    Motherboard
    DELL 0J37VM
    Memory
    32 gb
    Graphics Card(s)
    none-Intel UHD Graphics 630
    Sound Card
    Integrated Realtek
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    1tb Solidigm m.2 nvme+256gb SKHynix m.2 nvme /External +512gb Samsung m.2 sata+1tb Kingston m2.nvme
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    Dell Premium
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Internet Speed
    so slow I'm too embarrassed to tell
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium
  • Operating System
    Windows 10 Pro 22H2 19045.3930
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 9020
    CPU
    i7-4770
    Memory
    24 gb
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    256 gb Toshiba BG4 M.2 NVE SSB and 1 tb hdd
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    Dell factory
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Internet Speed
    still not telling
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium
Not $5.99 but $39.99 with 15% off on one of the forums' sponser sites
John actually informed me that there isn’t an affiliation. Not sure if sponsorship and affiliation are the same thing though. He mentioned that there is no benefit to the site from buying from Stacksocial, just that he likes their offers.

If nothing else, we can at least be sure they are trustworthy.

Correction, John doesn’t bother taking the commission, my mistake.

 
Last edited:

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 23H2 Build: 22631.3593
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Sin-built
    CPU
    Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-4770K CPU @ 3.50GHz (4th Gen?)
    Motherboard
    ASUS ROG Maximus VI Formula
    Memory
    32.0 GB of I forget and the box is in storage.
    Graphics Card(s)
    Gigabyte nVidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super OC 6GB
    Sound Card
    Onboard
    Monitor(s) Displays
    4 x LG 23MP75 1 x 24" LG M38H 1 x 32" LF6300 TV Monitor 1 x Wacom Pro 22" Tablet
    Screen Resolution
    All over the place
    Hard Drives
    2 x WD something Something 8TB HDD's / 2 x WD something Something 4TB HDD's / 1 x EVO 1TB SSD / 2 x QVO 1TB SSD's / 1 x EVO 250 GB SSD / 2 x QVO 1TB (External Hub) / 1 x EVO 1TB (Portable Backup Case)
    PSU
    Silverstone 1500
    Case
    NZXT Phantom 820 Full-Tower Case
    Cooling
    Noctua NH-D15 Elite Class Dual Tower CPU Cooler / 6 x EziDIY 120mm / 2 x Corsair 140mm somethings / 1 x 140mm Thermaltake something / 2 x 200mm Corsair.
    Keyboard
    Corsair K95 / Logitech diNovo Edge Wireless
    Mouse
    Logitech G402 / G502 / Mx Masters / MX Air Cordless
    Internet Speed
    100/40Mbps
    Browser
    All sorts
    Antivirus
    Kaspersky Premium
    Other Info
    I’m on a horse.
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro 22621.2215
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    LENOVO Yoga 7i EVO OLED 14" Touchscreen i5 12 Core 16GB/512GB
    CPU
    Intel Core 12th Gen i5-1240P Processor (1.7 - 4.4GHz)
    Memory
    16GB LPDDR5 RAM
    Graphics card(s)
    Graphics processor is an Intel Iris Xe
    Sound Card
    optimized with Dolby Atmos®
    Screen Resolution
    QHD 2880 x 1800 OLED
    Hard Drives
    M.2 512GB
    Other Info
    …still on a horse.
Perfectly reasonable -- I'd trust stuff on his site far more than some dubious provider I've never heard of.

If you need another Windows Pro license and it only lasts 2 years you've still saved a whole slew of money and presumably when the next version of Windows comes out - be it Windows12 or anything else - Ms will surely offer free updates for a time too.

You might need to check though if it's an OEM key (which means it can only be tied to that specific computer) or a Retail key which means it can be moved with free re-activation to another machine. I suspect these licenses are of the "retail variety" though which makes them even better value.

I'd buy one myself but I got a whole slew of W11 licenses from the old Technet W8.1 / W7 serials before the free update offer was closed down relatively recently.

Cheers
jimbo
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows XP,7,10,11 Linux Arch Linux
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    CPU
    2 X Intel i7
Going back to the original question...

You CANNOT activate a VM using the same key as the physical because a VM uses different hardware. It uses virtualized hardware which is seen as a different machine and thus will not activate using the same key.

HOWEVER, you CAN install one or more additional instances of Windows to a VHD and natively boot those instances of Windows from the VHD. That type of installation CAN be activated using the same key because it uses the same physical hardware (it is not virtualized).
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Win11 Pro 23H2
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Home Built
    CPU
    Intel i7-11700K
    Motherboard
    ASUS Prime Z590-A
    Memory
    128GB Crucial Ballistix 3200MHz DRAM
    Graphics Card(s)
    No GPU - CPU graphics only (for now)
    Sound Card
    Realtek (on motherboard)
    Monitor(s) Displays
    HP Envy 32
    Screen Resolution
    2560 x 1440
    Hard Drives
    1 x 1TB NVMe Gen 4 x 4 SSD
    1 x 2TB NVMe Gen 3 x 4 SSD
    2 x 512GB 2.5" SSDs
    2 x 8TB HD
    PSU
    Corsair HX850i
    Case
    Corsair iCue 5000X RGB
    Cooling
    Noctua NH-D15 chromax.black cooler + 10 case fans
    Keyboard
    CODE backlit mechanical keyboard
    Mouse
    Logitech MX Master 3
    Internet Speed
    1Gb Up / 1 Gb Down
    Browser
    Edge
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender
    Other Info
    Additional options installed:
    WiFi 6E PCIe adapter
    ASUS ThunderboltEX 4 PCIe adapter
  • Operating System
    Win11 Pro 23H2
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Lenovo ThinkBook 13x Gen 2
    CPU
    Intel i7-1255U
    Memory
    16 GB
    Graphics card(s)
    Intel Iris Xe Graphics
    Sound Card
    Realtek® ALC3306-CG codec
    Monitor(s) Displays
    13.3-inch IPS Display
    Screen Resolution
    WQXGA (2560 x 1600)
    Hard Drives
    2 TB 4 x 4 NVMe SSD
    PSU
    USB-C / Thunderbolt 4 Power / Charging
    Mouse
    Buttonless Glass Precision Touchpad
    Keyboard
    Backlit, spill resistant keyboard
    Internet Speed
    1Gb Up / 1Gb Down
    Browser
    Edge
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender
    Other Info
    WiFi 6e / Bluetooth 5.1 / Facial Recognition / Fingerprint Sensor / ToF (Time of Flight) Human Presence Sensor
Going back to the original question...

You CANNOT activate a VM using the same key as the physical because a VM uses different hardware. It uses virtualized hardware which is seen as a different machine and thus will not activate using the same key.

HOWEVER, you CAN install one or more additional instances of Windows to a VHD and natively boot those instances of Windows from the VHD. That type of installation CAN be activated using the same key because it uses the same physical hardware (it is not virtualized).
Not always true for VM's. Also booting a native vhdx or vhd file is NOT booting a VM. I think the OP wanted to know about VM's.

If you do it THE OTHER Way around and have some pass thru stuff so a lot of the VM uses the native hardware so minimal "paravirtualisation" you can activate the VM and then convert it to a Physical machine where windows update can update any missing physical drivers -- and even if Windows does ask for activation it probably will work. What you need to ensure is in the VM use a Virtual CPU that W11 can use, pass thru graphics and physical disks, as well as a TPM etc and ensure when you created the VM it uses UEFI and Secure boot.

I've done this a few times with recent W11 insider builds and they've remained activated. I usually convert to physical installs on external devices as WindowstoGo systems as these can't generally update to newer builds and its a pain to clean install every time there's a new build.

Cheers
jimbo
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows XP,7,10,11 Linux Arch Linux
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    CPU
    2 X Intel i7
Going back to the original question...

You CANNOT activate a VM using the same key as the physical because a VM uses different hardware. It uses virtualized hardware which is seen as a different machine and thus will not activate using the same key.

HOWEVER, you CAN install one or more additional instances of Windows to a VHD and natively boot those instances of Windows from the VHD. That type of installation CAN be activated using the same key because it uses the same physical hardware (it is not virtualized).
Additional clarity:

You can install Windows to Hyper-V vms and they will be unactivated and you cannot personalise it.

However, you can then native boot the vhdx file as @hsehestedt says, and it will become activated and you can personalise it.

Thing is the personalisation gets remembered, so when you run the vm again, although unactivated, everything is personalised. Everything else works fine.

Of course, it does violate terms of EULA to run unactivated. In the old days, you could install an OS for 30 days unactivated.

But hey MS relaxed the rules from the old days where an installation went into reduced function mode. There is no time limit.

So MS dispensed with trial versions and allow you to run unactivated for an unlimited period, but then more or less contradict themselves in EULA saying you cannot run unactivated. MS even removed the watermark!

Some zealous purists will say "just because you can run it unactivated, does not mean that you should".

My counter argument is MS could easily stop unactivated versions running (or severely restrict it). They do this with MS 365!

Frankly, it seems MS does not give a poop about Windows being activated or not. They make revenue from ads etc.!

To me, buying a cheap key (most are hidden piracy really) to activate a vm is worse than not bothering as people are being scammed, parting with cash they do not really need to. People are deluding themselves the scammers are doing them a favour just to "tick a box".

Of course, you do need an activated version of host OS or you cannot personalise it.

For avoidance of doubt, I neither discourage or encourage people to run unactivated.

As an aside, the biggest MS contradiction is using sandbox, as it is effectively runs as an unactivated "virtual machine" i.e. you officially violate the EULA if you use sandbox (worse, it is based on Enterprise for which you need a volume licence key).
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 10 Pro + others in VHDs
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    ASUS Vivobook 14
    CPU
    I7
    Motherboard
    Yep, Laptop has one.
    Memory
    16 GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Integrated Intel Iris XE
    Sound Card
    Realtek built in
    Monitor(s) Displays
    N/A
    Screen Resolution
    1920x1080
    Hard Drives
    1 TB Optane NVME SSD, 1 TB NVME SSD
    PSU
    Yep, got one
    Case
    Yep, got one
    Cooling
    Stella Artois
    Keyboard
    Built in
    Mouse
    Bluetooth , wired
    Internet Speed
    72 Mb/s :-(
    Browser
    Edge mostly
    Antivirus
    Defender
    Other Info
    TPM 2.0
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