Windows licencing on vmware

Posted on 2009-12-24
Last Modified: 2012-05-08
Were starting to sell vmware solutions and are confused with licencing -especially in regards to windows and windows server products.
We tested moving our windows small business server 2003 to a vm and it immediately deactivated and asked for us to activate - in a dr situation does this mean that if your dr strategy involves moving a server or an acronis image for example to a vm will it activate or be licenced?
Also if we sold a vm solution and built the server on a vm esxi will this easily transfer / mount / work ok on a new vm esxi host or will we have activation issues

has anbody found any good articles or have some insight or tried it - any help, ideas, comments, article links would be great
Question by:makaaa
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    Expert Comment

    by:John Hurst
    In simple terms, the licensing requirements for a virtual machine are the same as for a physical machine. So you need a license for the operating system on a VM.

    Now, I have been successful in moving workstation VM's. That is, I have been able to move an XP VM from one machine to another and it didn't require reactivation. I expect that is because the VM hardware stayed the same. In the case above, the hardware changed a lot (physical to virtual) and that led to the reactivation requirement. You might be able to move this new VM to a different physical box (still a VM) and it may then not require reactivation.

    The key point is that each VM operating system must be licensed and cannot be copied (legally) elsewhere.
    ... Thinkpads_User
    LVL 70

    Accepted Solution

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    Assisted Solution

    In short you need a license for each windows for each physical hardware you intend to run it on.

    If you move a virtual machine to another hardware you need no new license if:
    the old server is broken
    60 days have passed.

    In only these 2 cases you can move the license from one physical server to another.

    LVL 27

    Assisted Solution

    ... and reactivation is not an issue here.

    Take a look at this site:
    LVL 27

    Assisted Solution

    You don't license a virtual machine you assign the right (!!) to run a windows machine on some physical hardware. If you run it on bare metal or within vmware is unimportant.  So if you move a virtual machine to another server you must assign another windows license to that physical server.

    E.g. you use one standard windows 2003 server on hardware A. (you need a license) You install another on windows on server A, you need a license. You move those to windows to server B, you must assign two windows licenses to server B.

    You assign a windows enterprise edition (good for 4 windows servers) to server A and install a windows server on server A, you need no license, you install another 3 windows servers on server A, you need no additional license.

    If you want to move them to B you need another enterprise edition assigned to server B.

    Also important is the peak usage, if you got 4 windows licenses on server A in use and 4 on server B, you must license 2 additional enterprise editions to be allowed to move the machines from A to B or vise versa.

    So after some time you better choose the cpu based datacenter editions, that allows you as many windows servers on each physical server as you like. (use the calculator for that)


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