How do I avoid needing to activate Windows when I move a VM? [Hyper-V]

How do I avoid needing to activate Windows when I move a VM? [Hyper-V]

Rate This
  • Comments 7

It is possible to move virtual machines around between different physical computers running Hyper-V without needing to run activation inside Windows.  The trick is that you need to make sure that the virtual hardware does not change when you move the virtual machine.

The most common mistake that people make when moving a virtual machine by hand (e.g. not using SCVMM or Hyper-V Clustering) is that they just copy the virtual hard disks (.VHD files) and create a new virtual machine that uses these virtual hard disks.

This new virtual machine will have new hardware identifiers for all the virtual hardware it contains – so even if you setup the virtual machine with the same settings, Windows will ask to be reactivated.

The best way to avoid this is to export the virtual machine on the source Hyper-V server, and then import it on the target server.  This will ensure that all the virtual hardware has the same identifying information, and you will not need to reactivate Windows after moving the virtual machine.


Leave a Comment
  • Please add 2 and 6 and type the answer here:
  • Post
  • The only problem with this approach is the double copy of the VHD contents - once to export, another to import (a real pain in the SMB space where I/O throughput can be a killer). It would be nice if the import/export process had a method to help alleviate this double copy, with the usual "here be dragons" warning of having split data for the import/export process.

  • What about Virtual PC? An activated VPC VM should remain activated even if a new VM is created and the VHD is reused right? Or only if you re-use the .VMC file, it maintains activation?

  • Chris Knight -

    Unfortunately, it involves scripting - but you can just export a virtual machine configuration without copying the VHDs.  I posted about this here:

    xpclient -

    This affects Virtual PC too - and you should copy both the .VHD and .VMC files to avoid needing to activate again.



  • Have you posted on how avoiding activation works with P2V?  That would be nice to know.

  • My question comes to a different approach yet the same issue:

    How do I avoid needing to activate Windows when I move it from a physical machine to a Virtual Machine. I wanted to get rid of my old dell so I made a VHD out of it so after importing I can't even login because it asks for activation.

    I called MS and after typing many numbers their "automatic machine" says my license is invalid even if it's not entirely true. My idea was to retire the old machine and use the same license on Vm but.... no deal. :(

  • I have been trying to reuse the VM Windows 7 "XP Mode" into the inbuilt "Hyper-V" of Windows 8 Consumer Preview on my own personal laptop.

    I followed some hints found googling around such as: deinstalling integrating features, replacing HAL.dll (after attaching the VHD file using diskmgmt.msc), and so forth... Hyper-V import functionality does not recognize .vmc files of XP mode. I have no PC with Windows Server 2008 in it.

    Some MVP say there's no way around because it's meant to be that way by Microsoft (XP mode license only valid for Win 7 environment), some others claim to have found a way around (which I tried and did not work). I begin to get lost: whatever method I try it keeps asking me to reactivate my virtual Windows XP.

    The maximum step forward I managed to get to is making the WPA popup/picture appear on the desktop (in the bottom right corner), which of course did not solve my problem.

    What else can I try? Can you help me out with a tested/working solution (if there is any)?

    Does your scripting apply to my case? I have never scripted before... I hope to get to a point and say "of course! Stupid me, I should have thought about it earlier" :)

  • An easier solution is: Just call Microsoft for an activation. If the original OEM key was valid, they reactivate it for you - no problem.

Page 1 of 1 (7 items)