Why did my VMware Windows 11 activate itself ?

badcrc

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I'd read that installing Windows 11 in VMware could be tricky - TPM and Secure Boot etc, so I thought I'd have a go.

I installed VMware Workstation Pro 16 and grabbed a Windows 11 iso from Microsoft. First attempts gave the familiar 'this pc does not meet the spec' message. Turned out I had to encrypt the VM install in order to enable TPM emulation, and also check a box for secure boot.

I installed the VM Windows 11 OK without a serial key, but after install I checked and it said 'activated with a digital licence'.

slmgr -dli came back as Retail partial key 3V66T status licenced.

Previously when I've used VMware with Windows guest I had to activate the VM - but here it seems to have activated itself.

Any idea how this has happened ?

[ main pc ie host is a Ryzen 3700x that has TPM and secure boot ]
 

My Computer

System One

  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    CPU
    Ryzen 3700X
    Motherboard
    Rog Strix X570-F
    Memory
    32GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    GTX 1650
    Sound Card
    Soundblaster Z
    Monitor(s) Displays
    2 * 27"
    Screen Resolution
    2 * 1080p
    Hard Drives
    EVO 860 1TB
    3 * Seagate 4TB
    PSU
    EVGA 550W

NavyLCDR

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Did you log in with your Microsoft Account?
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • Operating System
    Windows 11
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Homebuilt
    CPU
    AMD Ryzen 7 3800XT
    Motherboard
    ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero (WiFi)
    Memory
    32GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Education
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Inspiron 7773
    CPU
    Intel i7-8550U
    Memory
    32GB
    Graphics card(s)
    Nvidia Geforce MX150
    Sound Card
    Realtek
    Monitor(s) Displays
    17"
    Screen Resolution
    1920 x 1080
    Hard Drives
    Toshiba 512GB NVMe SSD
    SK Hynix 512GB SATA SSD
    Internet Speed
    Fast!

Bree

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it seems to have activated itself. Any idea how this has happened ?
No, none whatsoever. But I have seen this happen once before with a W10 Hyper-V VM.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Home
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Acer Aspire 3 A315-23
    CPU
    AMD Athlon Silver 3050U
    Memory
    8GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Radeon Graphics
    Monitor(s) Displays
    laptop screen
    Screen Resolution
    1366x768 native resolution, up to 2560x1440 with Radeon Virtual Super Resolution
    Hard Drives
    1TB HDD
    Browser
    Edge, Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender
    Other Info
    fully 'Windows 11 ready' laptop. Windows 10 C: partition migrated from my old unsupported 'main machine' then upgraded to 11. A test migration ran Insider builds for 2 months. When 11 was released on 5th October it was re-imaged back to 10 and was offered the upgrade in Windows Update on 20th October.


    My SYSTEM THREE is a Dell Latitude 5410, i7-10610U, 32GB RAM, 512GB ssd, Windows 11 Pro.
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Lattitude E4310
    CPU
    i5 M 520
    Motherboard
    0T6M8G
    Memory
    4GB
    Screen Resolution
    1366x768
    Hard Drives
    500GB HDD
    Browser
    Firefox, Edge
    Antivirus
    Defender
    Other Info
    unsupported machine: Legacy bios, MBR, TPM 1.2, upgraded from W10 to W11 using W10/W11 hybrid install media workaround.


    My SYSTEM THREE is a Dell Latitude 5410, i7-10610U, 32GB RAM, 512GB ssd, Windows 11 Pro.

badcrc

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Thread Starter
Local time
6:19 AM
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18

My Computer

System One

  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    CPU
    Ryzen 3700X
    Motherboard
    Rog Strix X570-F
    Memory
    32GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    GTX 1650
    Sound Card
    Soundblaster Z
    Monitor(s) Displays
    2 * 27"
    Screen Resolution
    2 * 1080p
    Hard Drives
    EVO 860 1TB
    3 * Seagate 4TB
    PSU
    EVGA 550W

cereberus

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Are you saying you created a brand new VM and clean installed windows without key?
 

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

Bree

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That's exactly what I did. Created a new VM in Hyper-V just for a quick test install with no intention of activating it. Installed 10 Pro without providing a key and with just a local account. I was about to delete it when I spotted it was activated with a digital licence. I have no idea how that happened, it certainly hasn't happened again.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Home
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Acer Aspire 3 A315-23
    CPU
    AMD Athlon Silver 3050U
    Memory
    8GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Radeon Graphics
    Monitor(s) Displays
    laptop screen
    Screen Resolution
    1366x768 native resolution, up to 2560x1440 with Radeon Virtual Super Resolution
    Hard Drives
    1TB HDD
    Browser
    Edge, Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender
    Other Info
    fully 'Windows 11 ready' laptop. Windows 10 C: partition migrated from my old unsupported 'main machine' then upgraded to 11. A test migration ran Insider builds for 2 months. When 11 was released on 5th October it was re-imaged back to 10 and was offered the upgrade in Windows Update on 20th October.


    My SYSTEM THREE is a Dell Latitude 5410, i7-10610U, 32GB RAM, 512GB ssd, Windows 11 Pro.
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Lattitude E4310
    CPU
    i5 M 520
    Motherboard
    0T6M8G
    Memory
    4GB
    Screen Resolution
    1366x768
    Hard Drives
    500GB HDD
    Browser
    Firefox, Edge
    Antivirus
    Defender
    Other Info
    unsupported machine: Legacy bios, MBR, TPM 1.2, upgraded from W10 to W11 using W10/W11 hybrid install media workaround.


    My SYSTEM THREE is a Dell Latitude 5410, i7-10610U, 32GB RAM, 512GB ssd, Windows 11 Pro.

spapakons

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I have a theory... Windows 11 can be activated with the same license as Windows 7 or 10. If you ever had a virtual machine running Windows 7 or Windows 10, then its activation data have been stored at Microsoft's servers. Windows 11 detected these data and activated again as it is basically the same machine running an upgraded Windows version.
 

My Computer

System One

  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro 21H2 64-bit (build 22000.282)
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Acer Extensa 5630EZ
    CPU
    Mobile DualCore Intel Core 2 Duo T7250, 2000 MHz
    Motherboard
    Acer Extensa 5630
    Memory
    4GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Mobile Intel(R) GMA 4500M (Mobile 4 series)
    Sound Card
    Realtek ALC268 @ Intel 82801IB ICH9 - High Definition Audio Controller
    Monitor(s) Displays
    1
    Screen Resolution
    1280x800
    Hard Drives
    Samsung SSD 850 EVO 250GB SATA Device (250 GB, SATA-III)
    Internet Speed
    VDSL 50 Mbps
    Browser
    MICROSOFT EDGE
    Antivirus
    WINDOWS DEFENDER

NavyLCDR

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Windows 7 activations were never stored as digital licenses on Microsoft's Activations Servers. Windows 7 always required a product key to activate. As far as VMWare VMs activated themselves, I wonder if the VMWare VMs created duplicate hardware IDs. Your VMWare VM may have created a hardware ID matching some VMWare VM hardware ID in China that had a digital license for Windows 10 already stored at Microsoft. Only two matches have to be made to retrieve the digital license: hardware ID + edition of Windows installed.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • Operating System
    Windows 11
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Homebuilt
    CPU
    AMD Ryzen 7 3800XT
    Motherboard
    ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero (WiFi)
    Memory
    32GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Education
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Inspiron 7773
    CPU
    Intel i7-8550U
    Memory
    32GB
    Graphics card(s)
    Nvidia Geforce MX150
    Sound Card
    Realtek
    Monitor(s) Displays
    17"
    Screen Resolution
    1920 x 1080
    Hard Drives
    Toshiba 512GB NVMe SSD
    SK Hynix 512GB SATA SSD
    Internet Speed
    Fast!

Bree

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it is basically the same machine running an upgraded Windows version.
Not in my case, I created a new virtual machine from scratch. It would have had a new unique machine ID. I can only surmise that it had by pure random fluke created an ID that had been used before by someone else.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Home
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Acer Aspire 3 A315-23
    CPU
    AMD Athlon Silver 3050U
    Memory
    8GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Radeon Graphics
    Monitor(s) Displays
    laptop screen
    Screen Resolution
    1366x768 native resolution, up to 2560x1440 with Radeon Virtual Super Resolution
    Hard Drives
    1TB HDD
    Browser
    Edge, Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender
    Other Info
    fully 'Windows 11 ready' laptop. Windows 10 C: partition migrated from my old unsupported 'main machine' then upgraded to 11. A test migration ran Insider builds for 2 months. When 11 was released on 5th October it was re-imaged back to 10 and was offered the upgrade in Windows Update on 20th October.


    My SYSTEM THREE is a Dell Latitude 5410, i7-10610U, 32GB RAM, 512GB ssd, Windows 11 Pro.
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Lattitude E4310
    CPU
    i5 M 520
    Motherboard
    0T6M8G
    Memory
    4GB
    Screen Resolution
    1366x768
    Hard Drives
    500GB HDD
    Browser
    Firefox, Edge
    Antivirus
    Defender
    Other Info
    unsupported machine: Legacy bios, MBR, TPM 1.2, upgraded from W10 to W11 using W10/W11 hybrid install media workaround.


    My SYSTEM THREE is a Dell Latitude 5410, i7-10610U, 32GB RAM, 512GB ssd, Windows 11 Pro.

spapakons

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287
Either the same or new virtual machine on the same host computer might have the same or similar hardware ID and hence Windows 11 activated automatically. Unless the ISO you used is already activated (not official Microsoft).
 

My Computer

System One

  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro 21H2 64-bit (build 22000.282)
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Acer Extensa 5630EZ
    CPU
    Mobile DualCore Intel Core 2 Duo T7250, 2000 MHz
    Motherboard
    Acer Extensa 5630
    Memory
    4GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Mobile Intel(R) GMA 4500M (Mobile 4 series)
    Sound Card
    Realtek ALC268 @ Intel 82801IB ICH9 - High Definition Audio Controller
    Monitor(s) Displays
    1
    Screen Resolution
    1280x800
    Hard Drives
    Samsung SSD 850 EVO 250GB SATA Device (250 GB, SATA-III)
    Internet Speed
    VDSL 50 Mbps
    Browser
    MICROSOFT EDGE
    Antivirus
    WINDOWS DEFENDER

Anixx

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I also installed Windows 11 as a clean install on my laptop from 2012 with no UEFI and a local account. After installation it says it is "activated with digital license".
 

My Computer

System One

  • Operating System
    Windows 11

Bree

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I also installed Windows 11 as a clean install on my laptop from 2012 with no UEFI and a local account. After installation it says it is "activated with digital license".
That may be a different situation. If that laptop had ever had been upgraded from W7/8 to W10 then it would already have a digital license for W10 stored on the activation servers and linked to the hardware ID of the laptop. The same digital license is used for W11 as for W10, so a clean install of either should activate from the existing digital license.

The situation being discussed here is that of creating a new VM from scratch that should in theory have a unique new hardware ID that's never been recorded on the activation servers. Nevertheless, two of us have seen such a machine activate for no reason we can explain.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Home
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Acer Aspire 3 A315-23
    CPU
    AMD Athlon Silver 3050U
    Memory
    8GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Radeon Graphics
    Monitor(s) Displays
    laptop screen
    Screen Resolution
    1366x768 native resolution, up to 2560x1440 with Radeon Virtual Super Resolution
    Hard Drives
    1TB HDD
    Browser
    Edge, Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender
    Other Info
    fully 'Windows 11 ready' laptop. Windows 10 C: partition migrated from my old unsupported 'main machine' then upgraded to 11. A test migration ran Insider builds for 2 months. When 11 was released on 5th October it was re-imaged back to 10 and was offered the upgrade in Windows Update on 20th October.


    My SYSTEM THREE is a Dell Latitude 5410, i7-10610U, 32GB RAM, 512GB ssd, Windows 11 Pro.
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Lattitude E4310
    CPU
    i5 M 520
    Motherboard
    0T6M8G
    Memory
    4GB
    Screen Resolution
    1366x768
    Hard Drives
    500GB HDD
    Browser
    Firefox, Edge
    Antivirus
    Defender
    Other Info
    unsupported machine: Legacy bios, MBR, TPM 1.2, upgraded from W10 to W11 using W10/W11 hybrid install media workaround.


    My SYSTEM THREE is a Dell Latitude 5410, i7-10610U, 32GB RAM, 512GB ssd, Windows 11 Pro.

Bree

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It was not. Win10 had never run on it.
Was it supplied by the OEM with W8 pre-installed? If so it would have a W8 key embedded in its bios firmware. Were you asked to supply a key when you clean installed, or asked which edition (Home or Pro) to install? If not then Setup had found an embedded key and used that.

Any embedded W8/8.1/10 key would activate a clean install and gain it a digital license.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Home
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Acer Aspire 3 A315-23
    CPU
    AMD Athlon Silver 3050U
    Memory
    8GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Radeon Graphics
    Monitor(s) Displays
    laptop screen
    Screen Resolution
    1366x768 native resolution, up to 2560x1440 with Radeon Virtual Super Resolution
    Hard Drives
    1TB HDD
    Browser
    Edge, Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender
    Other Info
    fully 'Windows 11 ready' laptop. Windows 10 C: partition migrated from my old unsupported 'main machine' then upgraded to 11. A test migration ran Insider builds for 2 months. When 11 was released on 5th October it was re-imaged back to 10 and was offered the upgrade in Windows Update on 20th October.


    My SYSTEM THREE is a Dell Latitude 5410, i7-10610U, 32GB RAM, 512GB ssd, Windows 11 Pro.
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Lattitude E4310
    CPU
    i5 M 520
    Motherboard
    0T6M8G
    Memory
    4GB
    Screen Resolution
    1366x768
    Hard Drives
    500GB HDD
    Browser
    Firefox, Edge
    Antivirus
    Defender
    Other Info
    unsupported machine: Legacy bios, MBR, TPM 1.2, upgraded from W10 to W11 using W10/W11 hybrid install media workaround.


    My SYSTEM THREE is a Dell Latitude 5410, i7-10610U, 32GB RAM, 512GB ssd, Windows 11 Pro.

jimbo45

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Hi there
I think Windows will attempt to activate itself from a VMWare installation under quite a few situations. -- what you could have done though is have the Network disabled on first boot of the VM.

In any case if you've several VM's then on first boot choose "I Moved it" rather than "I copied it" as the "Copied it" will create a new GUUID which Windows will want to "re-activate".

Normally the activation status won't change with a VMWare W10/W11 system --there's no reason since all the hardware is usually a "generic Paravirtualised system" which works across a whole slew of MOBOS and even Host OS'es.

Cheers
jimbo
 

My Computer

System One

  • Operating System
    Windows XP,7,10,11 Linux Arch Linux
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    CPU
    2 X Intel i7

Bree

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I had bought it on the second market with a Windows 7 pre-installed.
I have bought second hand laptops with W7 installed, specifically to find a machine that had no existing digital license for 10 so I could test activation scenarios. It's surprisingly difficult to find one that has never has W10 installed at some time, then reverted to its original W7.
No. And I definitey did not supply any key.
If you were not asked for a key, then Setup had already found one and didn't need to ask. Check for any OEM key in the firmware with ShowKeyPlus.

 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Home
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Acer Aspire 3 A315-23
    CPU
    AMD Athlon Silver 3050U
    Memory
    8GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Radeon Graphics
    Monitor(s) Displays
    laptop screen
    Screen Resolution
    1366x768 native resolution, up to 2560x1440 with Radeon Virtual Super Resolution
    Hard Drives
    1TB HDD
    Browser
    Edge, Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender
    Other Info
    fully 'Windows 11 ready' laptop. Windows 10 C: partition migrated from my old unsupported 'main machine' then upgraded to 11. A test migration ran Insider builds for 2 months. When 11 was released on 5th October it was re-imaged back to 10 and was offered the upgrade in Windows Update on 20th October.


    My SYSTEM THREE is a Dell Latitude 5410, i7-10610U, 32GB RAM, 512GB ssd, Windows 11 Pro.
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Lattitude E4310
    CPU
    i5 M 520
    Motherboard
    0T6M8G
    Memory
    4GB
    Screen Resolution
    1366x768
    Hard Drives
    500GB HDD
    Browser
    Firefox, Edge
    Antivirus
    Defender
    Other Info
    unsupported machine: Legacy bios, MBR, TPM 1.2, upgraded from W10 to W11 using W10/W11 hybrid install media workaround.


    My SYSTEM THREE is a Dell Latitude 5410, i7-10610U, 32GB RAM, 512GB ssd, Windows 11 Pro.

Bree

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It says the firmware has no keys:
Well that confirms you provided no key as ShowKeyPlus also shows that it has the generic Pro key installed. However with a 2nd hand PC there's no way to tell if it has ever had W10 installed and activated by a previous owner. It could easily have been factory reset to its original OEM W7 afterwards and you would be none the wiser.

The only known way to test for an existing digital license is to clean install without providing a key. If it activates then there's an existing digital license for this PC's hardware ID on the activation servers, if not then W10 has never been activated on this PC.

Of two cheap 2nd hand W7 laptops I specifically bought to test activation, the second on had no existing digital license for W10, the first did (and I'm using W11 on it now to reply to you). It's my System Two in 'My Computers' below.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Home
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Acer Aspire 3 A315-23
    CPU
    AMD Athlon Silver 3050U
    Memory
    8GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Radeon Graphics
    Monitor(s) Displays
    laptop screen
    Screen Resolution
    1366x768 native resolution, up to 2560x1440 with Radeon Virtual Super Resolution
    Hard Drives
    1TB HDD
    Browser
    Edge, Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender
    Other Info
    fully 'Windows 11 ready' laptop. Windows 10 C: partition migrated from my old unsupported 'main machine' then upgraded to 11. A test migration ran Insider builds for 2 months. When 11 was released on 5th October it was re-imaged back to 10 and was offered the upgrade in Windows Update on 20th October.


    My SYSTEM THREE is a Dell Latitude 5410, i7-10610U, 32GB RAM, 512GB ssd, Windows 11 Pro.
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Lattitude E4310
    CPU
    i5 M 520
    Motherboard
    0T6M8G
    Memory
    4GB
    Screen Resolution
    1366x768
    Hard Drives
    500GB HDD
    Browser
    Firefox, Edge
    Antivirus
    Defender
    Other Info
    unsupported machine: Legacy bios, MBR, TPM 1.2, upgraded from W10 to W11 using W10/W11 hybrid install media workaround.


    My SYSTEM THREE is a Dell Latitude 5410, i7-10610U, 32GB RAM, 512GB ssd, Windows 11 Pro.
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