Automatic Virtual Machine Activation in Windows Server 2012 R2

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Automatic virtual machine activation is an easy to miss, but really handy feature in Windows Server 2012 R2.

One of the primary reasons why people buy Windows Server Datacenter today is because it gives them license to run an unlimited number of Windows Server instances inside of virtual machines.  However, you have still needed to manage Windows keys when doing this in the past.

Automatic virtual machine activation means that this is no longer necessary – Windows Server inside a virtual machine is now able to activate against Windows in the host operating system, if it is running an activated version of Windows Server Datacenter.

You can read all about this feature here:

One important thing to know is that if you are installing Windows in a virtual machine, on a system that supports automatic virtual machine activation, and you get asked for a product key – you should use one of the AVMA keys.  They are as follows:

Edition AVMA key
Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter Y4TGP-NPTV9-HTC2H-7MGQ3-DV4TW
Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard DBGBW-NPF86-BJVTX-K3WKJ-MTB6V
Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials K2XGM-NMBT3-2R6Q8-WF2FK-P36R2


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  • Very good!!

    Fábio Gomes


  • Ben,

    Such a minor but awesome feature. I do notice that Windows Setup still asks me for product key during the installation. I usually just put in our own keys and VMs got activated no problem. Does Windows Setup suppose to use those three AVMA keys and not asking me for product keys?

  • Jim, you can use sysprep for create custom installation image with prepinned AVMA keys.

  • Hi Ben,

    do you know if I can use AVMA to activate Windows 2008 R2 VMs and Window 7, 8 and 8.1 ones?

    I try to find some information re that but it seams to be available for 2012 R2 only, correct?

  • Hi David,

    AVMA only works in WS2012R2 or Win 8.1.

    The guest virtual machine operating system must be Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter, Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard, or Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials.



  • Hi Ben,

    why is this feature not written on the packaging!

    Having said that, just bought a new DELL Server with 2012R2 Std pre-installed. Installed Hyper-V option, created a VM, installed 2012R2 Std from the supplied DVD and come across the activation issue!

    Clicked on the "Activate Windows" button within "System" in the CPL and used the key from above (Std line).

    Got the message "This key didn't work, please check it and try it again, or try a different key."

    Can you provide any assistance please?

  • Hi to all,

    Will this feature works if VMs are running on Microsoft Hyper-V server 2012 R2 host ?




  • @Skeebo, you can only use the keys to automatically activate a guest Windows operating system if the host operating system is the Datacentre version - and it's activated.

    Hope that helps.

  • With the release of "Windows Server 2012 R2 with Update", the keys do not work anymore. I had to use my MSDN-retail keys during Installation.

    Is that intentional or are there new AVMA keys?

  • lame regurgitation of the TechNet article.

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Automatic Virtual Machine Activation in Windows Server 2012 R2