Author Topic: Virtual machines and licensed software  (Read 1301 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


  • Officers
  • Guru
  • ****
  • Posts: 194
Virtual machines and licensed software
« on: June 26, 2014, 12:36:58 PM »
PLEASE NOTE: We have created a new forum for Virtual Machines. Please start any new threads under that forum.

Does anyone have any experience with how licensed software is treated in a virtual machine?

For example
I build a base VM with legitimate, retail licenses of Windows 7 and Office 2010. Then I clone it (replicate to freeze the image) or fork it (same base image with different accessories or apps installed).

  • Can I run the various instances without having a license conflict? If I never run 2 instances at the same time? What about cucurrent instances?
  • What if I move the instance to a different host?
  • Should I activate the software before or after cloning?
  • Is Microsoft worrying about XP licenses any more?

Note that this discussion is for personal use of a single user. I have no desire to dive into the realm of pirating, either for profit or for friends.

Technical notes:
My VM environment uses Oracle Virtual Box currently running on a Win7 / AMD host.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2014, 05:32:00 PM by BillB »


  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Re: Virtual machines and licensed software
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2014, 11:50:56 AM »
Virtual Machines are considered to be a physical machine as far as licensing goes. The virtual machine exists as a bunch of files that comprise the machine. They can be transferred to another host. You can also create as many saved states of the machine as you like. If you at some point decide to completely delete the machine, there are sometimes ways to use the OS key number again. That is a whole new topic.

If you are creating clones of a physical machine or a virtual machine you should not activate any state of the OS until you are ready to "keep" the OS at that instance. This includes the "master" OS. You have 30 days to activate. After 30 days the OS goes into limited functionality, such as vga only output, no background picture and usually will stop activity after about one hour. It will continue to work but will tell you on screen that you may be a victim on software piracy.



  • Officers
  • Guru
  • ****
  • Posts: 194
Re: Virtual machines and licensed software
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2014, 05:27:12 PM »
Thanks, Galen

My question really was the impact on both my legal license and practically immediately calling home with a serial number conflict in these situations.

1) If I have multiple snapshots and open snapshot 6, then close it and open snapshot 4; have I broken my license? Practically I would think this is no different than reinstalling from a backup which should not trigger any challenges from the publisher.

2) What if I move the VM to another host. Since I'm using the same hypervisor, the software should see essentially the same hardware. Again, I would never have more than one instance of that license live at one time.

« Last Edit: July 06, 2014, 05:34:06 PM by BillB »