Virtualization Hyper-V - Preserve virtual machine digital license (activation)

In case you want to activate your Windows virtual machines, it is important that you will preserve the activation and resulted digital license. When done correctly, you can delete the virtual machine when it is no longer needed, then restore it whenever required. You can even import it to another Hyper-V host computer, preserving its activation status.

This tutorial will show you how to preserve a VM digital license in Hyper-V. Tutorial applies to Windows 8 and all later Windows versions.

Hyper-V logo.png


Use links below to jump to any part of this tutorial, back button of your browser to return to this list.

Contents





Part ONE

Digital license explained


1.1 Windows Digital License was introduced in Windows 10. What it means in simple terms is, that once a specific Windows edition has been activated on a physical computer or a virtual machine, next time it is online, its license status and activation will be saved on Microsoft's activation servers. All future installations of that same edition will be automatically activated. When clean installing, user can select I don't have a product key, Windows will be automatically activated based on existing digital license.

No product key.jpg


1.2 Windows Digital License is edition specific. However, it is not bit architecture or language specific. In other words, if you have installed and activated a 32-bit Windows 10 PRO in French, you can clean install a 64-bit Windows 10 PRO in Swedish on that same machine, and it will be automatically activated based on existing digital license.

1.3 Windows Digital License is based on so called hardware ID (HWID). Windows 10 has 15 different hardware IDs, none of them includes any information about internal or external storage media (HDD, SSD, VHD, DVD, USB Flash Drive and so on):

HWID
  • HardwareID-0 Manufacturer + Family + Product Name + SKU Number + BIOS Vendor + BIOS Version + BIOS Major Release + BIOS Minor Release
  • HardwareID-1 Manufacturer + Family + Product Name + BIOS Vendor + BIOS Version + BIOS Major Release + BIOS Minor Release
  • HardwareID-2 Manufacturer + Product Name + BIOS Vendor + BIOS Version + BIOS Major Release + BIOS Minor Release
  • HardwareID-3 Manufacturer + Family + Product Name + SKU Number + Baseboard Manufacturer + Baseboard Product
  • HardwareID-4 Manufacturer + Family + Product Name + SKU Number
  • HardwareID-5 Manufacturer + Family + Product Name
  • HardwareID-6 Manufacturer + SKU Number + Baseboard Manufacturer + Baseboard Product
  • HardwareID-7 Manufacturer + SKU Number
  • HardwareID-8 Manufacturer + Product Name + Baseboard Manufacturer + Baseboard Product
  • HardwareID-9 Manufacturer + Product Name
  • HardwareID-10 Manufacturer + Family + Baseboard Manufacturer + Baseboard Product
  • HardwareID-11 Manufacturer + Family
  • HardwareID-12 Manufacturer + Enclosure Type
  • HardwareID-13 Manufacturer + Baseboard Manufacturer + Baseboard Product
  • HardwareID-14 Manufacturer
Digital license is based on HWID 3.

More about HWID: Specifying Hardware IDs for a Computer | Microsoft Docs

1.4 As disks are out of the equation, having nothing to do with HWID and digital license, once a computer or virtual machine has been activated with a digital license for a specific edition of Windows, you can replace the HDD, SSD, or VHD and clean re-install on a new disk, Windows being automatically activated.

This is extremely practical with virtual machines. Your VHD has grown, it's too big, or you just want to start from scratch. Simply delete the VHD, create a new one, install Windows, and it will be automatically activated.

1.5 An additional benefit is, that all Windows installations (same edition) on the PC or virtual machine have a digital license. An example: I always install first the UK English Windows PRO edition on my computers, and activate it. When activated, I will install same edition in both my native languages Finnish and Swedish, and in language of my adopted home country German on same computer in so called multi boot scenario.

I can now select any of the four language versions of Windows and boot to it, Windows being automatically activated.



Part TWO

Install Windows


2.1 Install Windows normally on a Hyper-V VM, and activate it.

2.2 My recommendation, not obligatory: Rename your VM to remind you it is activated. I simply add (activated) to VM name. For example. if the VM name is W11 PRO x64, I rename it to W11 PRO x64 (activated) as soon as I have activated it (#1 in next screenshot).

2.3 My recommendation, not obligatory: Create a checkpoint, rename it with something descriptive. I usually rename the first checkpoint as Clean install, activated (#2 in next screenshot). When necessary to start from scratch, I can simply apply this checkpoint.

VM activated & initial checkpoint.jpg





Part THREE

Export VM


3.1 Shut down the VM. Select it in Hyper-V Manager, select Export on VM pane bottom right:

Export VM.jpg


3.2 Click Browse to select where to export:

Select where to export.jpg


3.2 My recommendation is to create a folder called Hyper-V Export on an external HDD or NAS, and select it:

Export folder.jpg


3.3 When you now need to free storage space on your Hyper-V host, you can simply delete the VM.



Part FOUR

ImportVM


4.1 When you again need the VM, select Import Virtual Machine on Actions pane in Hyper-V Manager (top right pane):

Import VM.jpg


4.2 Click Browse, and select the folder where you exported your VM. Click Select Folder to start the import:

Select Import Folder.jpg


Please notice:

After re-installing Windows on your Hyper-V host, or renaming your Hyper-V virtual switches, you might get the following error message when importing a VM. Simply select another virtual switch from drop-down list to proceed.

Virtual Switch not found.jpg




4.3 IMPORTANT: In Import Virtual Machine wizard, always select Restore the virtual machine (use the existing unique ID). This will import the VM, preserving its activation status:

Restore VM.jpg


4.4 Selecting Register the virtual machine in-place will also preserve the activation status, but if you later delete the VM from Hyper-V Manager, it will also be deleted from your Export folder, and cannot be imported anymore.

Selecting Copy the virtual machine will create a new SID, and VM will not be activated.


That's it, geeks! Keep your activated virtual machines safe.

Kari
 
Last edited:

hsehestedt

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As always, fantastic information, Kari. Thanks!
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • Operating System
    Windows 11 21H2
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    HP Spectre x360 15-BL012DX
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hsehestedt

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Kari, I have one question regarding this:

Do you know if there is a way to export the VM and then later reimport it without actually saving the whole VHDX file (the virtual disk)?

With VMware, literally the only thing that I need to save is the UUID of the VM (just a few bytes of information). I can then create an entirely new VM with a new virtual disk. Before starting to install Windows I simply change the UUID. Then, when I install Windows from scratch it will come up activated. It makes it so much easier to save my activated VMs and restore later when needed for testing.

I know that the Hyper-V virtual disk is not huge, it was roughly 10GB in my test, but if I can save the Hyper-V machine info without needing to store the entire virtual disk that would still be a nice added bonus.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • Operating System
    Windows 11 21H2
    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
    300Mb down / 20Mb up
    Browser
    Chromium Edge
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender
    Other Info
    Additional options installed:
    WiFi 6E PCIe adapter
    ASUS ThunderboltEX 4 PCIe adapter
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 21H2
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    HP Spectre x360 15-BL012DX
    CPU
    Intel i7-7500U
    Memory
    32GB
    Graphics card(s)
    Dual Intel HD 620 and Nvidia GeForce 940MX
    Sound Card
    Built-in Realtek HD Audio
    Monitor(s) Displays
    4k 15-inch
    Screen Resolution
    4k (3840 x 2160)
    Hard Drives
    1TB Seagate FireCuda 510 NVMe SSD
    Internet Speed
    300Mb down / 20Mb up
    Browser
    Chromium Edge
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender
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    RAM Upgraded from 16GB to 32GB WiFi Upgraded from WiFi 5 to WiFi 6 SSD upgraded from 512GB NVMe SSD to 1TB Seagate FireCuda 510 NVMe SSD

hsehestedt

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Huh! Minutes after posting my question to you I have an answer already. Ironically, I found an old note I wrote to myself several years ago about this very topic.

1) Create the Hyper-V VM but do not yet install Windows.
2) Export the VM now! This will result in a very small export since no OS is installed yet. There will be a virtual disk, but very small. In my test, the entire export was only 4MB.
3) Now install Windows and activate it.

If you ever restore that VM again, because it has the same unique ID, you can install Windows onto it from scratch and it will activate.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • Operating System
    Windows 11 21H2
    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
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    300Mb down / 20Mb up
    Browser
    Chromium Edge
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender
    Other Info
    Additional options installed:
    WiFi 6E PCIe adapter
    ASUS ThunderboltEX 4 PCIe adapter
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 21H2
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    HP Spectre x360 15-BL012DX
    CPU
    Intel i7-7500U
    Memory
    32GB
    Graphics card(s)
    Dual Intel HD 620 and Nvidia GeForce 940MX
    Sound Card
    Built-in Realtek HD Audio
    Monitor(s) Displays
    4k 15-inch
    Screen Resolution
    4k (3840 x 2160)
    Hard Drives
    1TB Seagate FireCuda 510 NVMe SSD
    Internet Speed
    300Mb down / 20Mb up
    Browser
    Chromium Edge
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender
    Other Info
    RAM Upgraded from 16GB to 32GB WiFi Upgraded from WiFi 5 to WiFi 6 SSD upgraded from 512GB NVMe SSD to 1TB Seagate FireCuda 510 NVMe SSD

cereberus

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Kari, I have one question regarding this:

Do you know if there is a way to export the VM and then later reimport it without actually saving the whole VHDX file (the virtual disk)?

With VMware, literally the only thing that I need to save is the UUID of the VM (just a few bytes of information). I can then create an entirely new VM with a new virtual disk. Before starting to install Windows I simply change the UUID. Then, when I install Windows from scratch it will come up activated. It makes it so much easier to save my activated VMs and restore later when needed for testing.

I know that the Hyper-V virtual disk is not huge, it was roughly 10GB in my test, but if I can save the Hyper-V machine info without needing to store the entire virtual disk that would still be a nice added bonus.
Sure you can remove hdd from hyperV, and keep vm as @Kari says.

However, I do not bother with import/export. Export does not do anything fancy - it just puts the configs into a zip file. You can open the zip file with any standard zip tool.

In my opinion, there is little point in using the export option as the vmconfig files are tiny anyway.

I just copy the vmconfig folder (but not the vhd folder) elsewhere e.g. to onedrive (using File Explorer) and if I accidentally delete a vm in hyperv, I just copy the specific vm back .

If you have multiple vms, good idea to create a text file of vmname and its function e.g. abc123456, Windows 10 Pro.

I never actually (deliberately) delete vm from hyperv if activate

It is better to remove the hdd from vm before copying it elsewhere but not essential. If you copy a vm back which refers to a vhd and you have deleted the vhd at some point, you just go to settings and remove the vhd, and create new one.
 

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    Windows 10 Pro + others in VHDs
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    ASUS Vivobook 14
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    I7
    Motherboard
    Yep, Laptop has one.
    Memory
    16 GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Integrated Intel Iris XE
    Sound Card
    Realtek built in
    Monitor(s) Displays
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    1920x1080
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    1 TB Optane NVME SSD, 1 TB NVME SSD
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hsehestedt

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cereberus, I've run into a big problem with this previously. My memory on some of the specific details are fuzzy as it was probably a good 2 years ago, but in simple terms, I had deleted a Hyper-V VM from my system. I did it through the GUI and not by simply manually deleting files.

However, like 6 months later I tried to restore that VM from files that I had saved and Hyper-V would not allow me to run that VM complaining with a message something to the effect that a VM with that unique ID already existed.

I think I spent the better part of a day trying to troubleshoot this but finally gave up and just created a whole new VM to which I had to sacrifice a new key for activation (yes, I needed an activated copy of Windows for what I was doing because it was going to be for something more than testing purposes).

Bottom line is that I lost a previous activation and simply could not recover it.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • Operating System
    Windows 11 21H2
    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
    300Mb down / 20Mb up
    Browser
    Chromium Edge
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender
    Other Info
    Additional options installed:
    WiFi 6E PCIe adapter
    ASUS ThunderboltEX 4 PCIe adapter
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 21H2
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    HP Spectre x360 15-BL012DX
    CPU
    Intel i7-7500U
    Memory
    32GB
    Graphics card(s)
    Dual Intel HD 620 and Nvidia GeForce 940MX
    Sound Card
    Built-in Realtek HD Audio
    Monitor(s) Displays
    4k 15-inch
    Screen Resolution
    4k (3840 x 2160)
    Hard Drives
    1TB Seagate FireCuda 510 NVMe SSD
    Internet Speed
    300Mb down / 20Mb up
    Browser
    Chromium Edge
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender
    Other Info
    RAM Upgraded from 16GB to 32GB WiFi Upgraded from WiFi 5 to WiFi 6 SSD upgraded from 512GB NVMe SSD to 1TB Seagate FireCuda 510 NVMe SSD

jimbo45

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Hi there
Query -- would just copying the UUID of the old VM into a new config file preserve the activation as per the other VM systems -- so long as the Virtual Hardware isn't altered significantly I can't see any reason why this wouldn't work.

Taking a Macrium image from WITHIN the VM should also be fine when re-locating a VM.

Cheers
jimbo
 

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cereberus

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Hi there
Query -- would just copying the UUID of the old VM into a new config file preserve the activation as per the other VM systems -- so long as the Virtual Hardware isn't altered significantly I can't see any reason why this wouldn't work.

Taking a Macrium image from WITHIN the VM should also be fine when re-locating a VM.

Cheers
jimbo
No - a vm image is of the vhd not the virtual machine.

As with physical pc, activation is linked to (emulated) hardware ie the vm config files NOT the vhd.

You can create a new vm from an old vm and transfer the uuid. TBH, I cannot see much point in doing this.
 

My Computer

System One

  • Operating System
    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

cereberus

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cereberus, I've run into a big problem with this previously. My memory on some of the specific details are fuzzy as it was probably a good 2 years ago, but in simple terms, I had deleted a Hyper-V VM from my system. I did it through the GUI and not by simply manually deleting files.

However, like 6 months later I tried to restore that VM from files that I had saved and Hyper-V would not allow me to run that VM complaining with a message something to the effect that a VM with that unique ID already existed.

I think I spent the better part of a day trying to troubleshoot this but finally gave up and just created a whole new VM to which I had to sacrifice a new key for activation (yes, I needed an activated copy of Windows for what I was doing because it was going to be for something more than testing purposes).

Bottom line is that I lost a previous activation and simply could not recover it.
As I said, backing up only copies files into a zip file. If you copy the vm files, it is the same. I do this all the time and once I had to recover all vms as the hard drive with vms failed. I just copied backup files, pointed HyperV to right directory and it just worked. Not sure what you did wrong. As always best option is probably to do it both ways so if one method fails, you have a second option.
 

My Computer

System One

  • Operating System
    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

Kari

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There seems to be some confusion here. Let's clarify a few things.

Do you know if there is a way to export the VM and then later reimport it without actually saving the whole VHDX file (the virtual disk)?

Yes, see my answer after next quote.


Huh! Minutes after posting my question to you I have an answer already. Ironically, I found an old note I wrote to myself several years ago about this very topic.

1) Create the Hyper-V VM but do not yet install Windows.
2) Export the VM now! This will result in a very small export since no OS is installed yet. There will be a virtual disk, but very small. In my test, the entire export was only 4MB.
3) Now install Windows and activate it.

If you ever restore that VM again, because it has the same unique ID, you can install Windows onto it from scratch and it will activate.

Your logic has a minor yet quite important flaw. If you create a VM, then export it before even installing Windows, it is not activated. Thus, when imported, it naturally remains unactivated.

Here's how I do it:

I install Windows on a VM, and activate it. After shutting down the VM, I then remove both DVD and VHD from VM, being sure I note the name and location of both to be able to re-attach them. Notice that removing DVD is optional, I just do it to avoid any possible error messages when VM is imported, in case ISO file (virtual DVD) no longer exists, or has been renamed / relocated.

Remove DVD (ISO):

VM Remove DVD.jpg


Remove VHD:

VM Remove VHD.jpg


Apply changes, close settings:

VM Apply removals.jpg


Now export the VM. Resulted export folder is really small:

Exported VM.jpg


I can now re-attach the VHD and run VM. When required, I can simply delete the VM in Hyper-V Manager, and import the exported VM, attach a new VHD to it, and install Windows, which will be automatically activated based on existing digital license.


Export does not do anything fancy - it just puts the configs into a zip file. You can open the zip file with any standard zip tool.

In my opinion, there is little point in using the export option as the vmconfig files are tiny anyway.

Hyper-V export does not ZIP anything. Exported folder is 1:1 real, non-archived folder.

Personally, I do not understand why using a built-in export feature in Hyper-V is somehow not as good as manually copying something. What on earth is wrong in using a built-in, extremely well working feature?


Query -- would just copying the UUID of the old VM into a new config file preserve the activation as per the other VM systems -- so long as the Virtual Hardware isn't altered significantly I can't see any reason why this wouldn't work.

See my answer to @Martin above.

Kari
 
Last edited:

My Computers

System One System Two

  • Operating System
    Windows 11 PRO x64 Dev
    Manufacturer/Model
    Hyper-V Virtual Machine (host in System 2 specs)
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    Intel Core i7-8550U
    Memory
    6 GB
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    Microsoft Hyper-V Video
    Monitor(s) Displays
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    Windows 11 PRO x64 Dev Channel
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    Manufacturer/Model
    HP HP ProBook 470 G5
    CPU
    Intel Core i7-8550U
    Motherboard
    HP 837F KBC Version 02.3D.00
    Memory
    16 GB
    Graphics card(s)
    Intel(R) UHD Graphics 620 & NVIDIA GeForce 930MX
    Sound Card
    Conexant ISST Audio
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Laptop display (17.1") & Samsung U28E590 (27.7")
    Hard Drives
    128 GB SSD & 1 TB HDD
    Mouse
    Wireless Logitech MSX mouse
    Keyboard
    Wireless Logitech MK710 keyboard
    Internet Speed
    100 Mbps down, 20 Mbps up
    Browser
    Edge Chromium Dev Channel
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender
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    2 * 3 TB USB HDD
    6 TB WD Mirror NAS

hsehestedt

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Kari, no flaw in my logic whatsoever.

I realize that the VM is not activated if I export it before I install Windows. That's why I noted in the steps that AFTER I export it, I continue on to install Windows which then results in that unique ID being activated.

So if I restore that backup, I can install Windows onto it and it will activate when done because that same unique ID was previously activated.

The reason for backing it up before it is activated is so that I have a very tiny backup. It accomplishes the same thing you are accomplishing. In my case I simply do the backup before while you are deleting the virtual disk after the activation.

End result is the same.

I tested this again last night and it works flawlessly.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • Operating System
    Windows 11 21H2
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Home Built
    CPU
    Intel i7-11700K
    Motherboard
    ASUS Prime Z590-A
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Kari

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My reply was based to this:

1) Create the Hyper-V VM but do not yet install Windows.
2) Export the VM now! This will result in a very small export since no OS is installed yet. There will be a virtual disk, but very small. In my test, the entire export was only 4MB.
3) Now install Windows and activate it.

If you ever restore that VM again, because it has the same unique ID, you can install Windows onto it from scratch and it will activate.

That short list of yours, Windows is activated AFTER it was exported (list item #2). In the last sentence, you then stated, that when imported, Windows will be activated.

As far as I know, nothing in your list tells that you export the VM again, when it has been activated. VM is exported before Windows is installed.

Of course, I might have misread or misunderstood your post.

Kari
 

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hsehestedt

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Kari, no flaw in my logic whatsoever.

I realize that the VM is not activated if I export it before I install Windows. That's why I noted in the steps that AFTER I export it, I continue on to install Windows which then results in that unique ID being activated.

So if I restore that backup, I can install Windows onto it and it will activate when done because that same unique ID was previously activated.

The reason for backing it up before it is activated is so that I have a very tiny backup. It accomplishes the same thing you are accomplishing. In my case I simply do the backup before while you are deleting the virtual disk after the activation.

End result is the same.

I tested this again last night and it works flawlessly.
My reply was based to this:



That short list of yours, Windows is activated AFTER it was exported (list item #2). In the last sentence, you then stated, that when imported, Windows will be activated.

As far as I know, nothing in your list tells that you export the VM again, when it has been activated. VM is exported before Windows is installed.

Of course, I might have misread or misunderstood your post.

Kari

Kari, I see the confusion. So more accurately, I should say something like this:

Once Windows has been installed and activated, if I delete that VM at a later time and then restore my exported copy, I can proceed with installation of Windows onto that restored copy and it will activate when installation of Windows is finished.

Another nice thing about this method is that I don't have to bother noting the name or location of the virtual disk because it gets restored from the exported copy.
 

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cereberus

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There seems to be some confusion here. Let's clarify a few things.



Yes, see my answer after next quote.




Your logic has a minor yet quite important flaw. If you create a VM, then export it before even installing Windows, it is not activated. Thus, when imported, it naturally remains unactivated.

Here's how I do it:

I install Windows on a VM, and activate it. After shutting down the VM, I then remove both DVD and VHD from VM, being sure I note the name and location of both to be able to re-attach them. Notice that removing DVD is optional, I just do it to avoid any possible error messages when VM is imported, in case ISO file (virtual DVD) no longer exists, or has been renamed / relocated.

Remove DVD (ISO):

View attachment 522

Remove VHD:

View attachment 523

Apply changes, close settings:

View attachment 521

Now export the VM. Resulted export folder is really small:

View attachment 520

I can now re-attach the VHD and run VM. When required, I can simply delete the VM in Hyper-V Manager, and import the exported VM, attach a new VHD to it, and install Windows, which will be automatically activated based on existing digital license.




Hyper-V export does not ZIP anything. Exported folder is 1:1 real, non-archived folder.

Personally, I do not understand why using a built-in export feature in Hyper-V is somehow not as good as manually copying something. What on earth is wrong in using a built-in, extremely well working feature?




See my answer to @Martin above.

Kari
Then they have changed export - it used to zip them with some extension. I know this as I still have my original exported files somewhere. I guess they decided it was pointless zipping and easier just to copy.

In this cases, import and export are just perhaps a convenient way of doing what I said. Difference is I can export all my vms in one go.


Regarding "minor flaw" I did not make it clear I was talking about a previously activated vm (where I removed vhd befote copying).
 

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hrk

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hsehsestedt is absolutely right (and Kari seems a bit confused): You _can_ export the VM before installing Windows. Activation does not change anything in the machine (the exported configuration files). Digital activation connects machine identity to a license on MS activation server. This tutorial should be revised.
 

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Kari

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hsehsestedt is absolutely right (and Kari seems a bit confused): You _can_ export the VM before installing Windows. Activation does not change anything in the machine (the exported configuration files). Digital activation connects machine identity to a license on MS activation server. This tutorial should be revised.

It is you who seem to be confused, maybe because you misread my post. Let's quote the part which you are referencing to:

If you create a VM, then export it before even installing Windows, it is not activated. Thus, when imported, it naturally remains unactivated.

Where does it say, that you cannot export a VM before installing Windows? NOWHERE!. It only says, that if a VM is exported before Winfows is installed, it is not activated. It will therefore of course be unactivated when imported back to Hyper-V.

I repeat: I of course know that you can export an empty VM, before installing Windows. But that was not even a point. The point was, and is, that in that case Windows is not yet activated.

Kari
 

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NavyLCDR

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What is being proposed here is this:

1. Create new VM, do not install Windows 10 or 11 on it.
2. Export the new VM before installing Windows. It doesn't even need to have a virtual disk attached to it.
3. Install and activate Windows 10 or 11 on the VM (activate with a product key). That VM now has a digital license for that edition of Windows stored on Microsoft activation servers.
4. Delete the VM, and import the VM that was exported in step 2 - or even import the VM exported in step 2 to a new host. Re-install the same edition of Windows and it will re-activate with the digital license that is stored on Microsoft activation servers (without a product key required).

This would be no different then replacing a hard drive/SSD in a computer. And I don't think Kari is confused about anything. It's just a matter of how it is worded.

Note - when you import the VM that was exported in step 2, it cannot be activated nor can it be not activated, because there is no OS installed on it! The computer (VM in this case) does not get activated or not. The OS installed on that computer gets activated. The question is whether or not there is a digital license for that edition of Windows save on Microsoft activation servers that matches that computer (or VM). If I take a computer or VM with Windows activated on it, and I wipe it clean and install Linux. Is there anyway to examine that computer to find a Windows activation on it? No. (neglecting any product keys stored in firmware by the manufacturer).
 

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jimbo45

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Hi folks
Seems simple enough to me -- whether Windows is activated or not on a VM.

With a VM : IF (and I mean IF !!! you activate it successfully - by whatever (legit of course) means - it can be moved around and exported (even to different HOST hardware) provided you keep the same UUIDD in the config -- in VMware / Esxi (that works too) this is done at ist boot of the GUEST - choose the "I moved it" popup rather than the "I copied" it popup, on HYPER-V somewhere in the VM's configuration file you can set the UUIDD, and on KVM simply "clone" the Guest's virtual HDD. With VBOX - not sure as I don't usse it.

Not sure what all "The Beef" is here !!! -- BTW even with a VM if you change the virtual hardware significantly then you might get a prompt for re-activation -- should work automaticcally if the previous activation was valid.

Cheers
jimbo
 

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hrk

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This would be no different then replacing a hard drive/SSD in a computer. And I don't think Kari is confused about anything. It's just a matter of how it is worded.
Maybe not confused. But I still think it would be useful and educational (as this is a tutorial) to clearly separate creating a (virtual) machine and installing an OS on it. If you only want to preserve the machine identity to which your license shall be bound, simplest is to export the empty machine before installing anything. If only you remember to do it. Of course you can do it afterwards, too, with or without the virtual disks, but then it can be too late.
 

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NavyLCDR

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Of course you can do it afterwards, too, with or without the virtual disks, but then it can be too late.
Be too late for what?
 

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