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Virtual Image OEM Software

I look after several Windows 2003 and 2008 SBS servers.  They all have OEM licences, I would like to convert these to virtual images for DR reasons, I understand if I do this I will have problems due to the oem licence.  Does anyone know the best way to achieve this.  If I launch the virtual machine and there are licencing issues can I contact MS and purchase a licence and enter the relevant product key?
Avatar of pjam
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I believe what your friends are referring to is that OEM are tied to the hardware, for example a Dell server with OEM will only work on that server.
I suspect you will need to purchase new licenses to go virtual, i may be wrong.  We'll see.
Avatar of wylie_uk

i converted a SBS2003 from a physical machine to a VM on hyper-v. i used microsofts system center virtual machine manager (i used a 30 day trial) to do this convertion. it did not reject the product key after, just simply ask me to reactivate, i did and it worked fine.
OEM server OS can be run only as a physical installation on the OEM hardware, not as a VM.  Nor can it be installed on other hardware.

If you want to move to VM, then you need to look at volume licensing.  For instance, one Server standard license can be installed as one physical server, or as 1 physical host (with only VM services) + 1 VM guest (as a "normal" server).

These are licensing agreements.  In genereal, there isn't a magic key that will stop you from installing your OEM software on another piece of hardware, or prevent you from cloning into another virtualization environment.  But just because you _can_ do something doesn't mean that it abides by your license agreement.

As always, the standard disclaimer comes:  "Get it in writing from your qualified Microsoft Licensing Specialist."

The OEM licenses are attractively cheap, but part of that low cost is that you can't do much with them.  Upgrading a motherboard or migrating to VM makes your OEM license = lost money.
It's a common enough question.  Here is a recent response similar to mine coming from Microsoft:

Generally, one product key is only for one Operating System installed on either a physical computer or a VM. OEM license is tied to the hardware specification, which means that the OEM license can only be used on the physical machine that matches the hardware specification but not in VM.
Are you allowed to convert OEM SBS 2008 physical to virtual? I don't know. Are you allowed to install SBS2008 OEM virtual? Yes. It's in the EULA.
Avatar of driftwood9267


Thanks for the comments I realize the licence will not be valid in a virtual environment I really want to know once it is converted whether I cam purchase a product key from ms that will validate on the virtual image without having to set it up from scratch.
ok after some investigation, sbs2008 OEM comes with 2 product keys. one virtual one physical
do the conversion and slide int he virtual key. voila!

sbs 2003 oem is a little grey area. a phone call to microsoft licensing dept, whish i have phoned on many occastions would yield the answer.
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Avatar of Cliff Galiher
Many OEMs just ship stock MS media which does indeed come with two keys. That doesn't mean you are *ALLOWED* to use both keys. OEM, legally, is locked to physical hardware. Converting, installing, or running an OEM license on VM is a breach of licensing.
that maybe true, i have no idea what MS stand point is on converting OEM to virtual and licensing, ultimately a phone call to MS licensing would provide the answer.
Maybe I misunderstood the original question.  I thought the SBS2008 server was being converted to run in a virtual environment different than the original hardware.  That breaks OEM license and requires volume license.  I don't know of a "conversion" license key...have to consult with actual MS Licensing Specialist.

If the SBS2008 server is being installed as 1phys + 1virt on the original OEM hardware, then you can use the VM key on the sticker on the back of the CD/DVD sleeve.  That's why it's there.
aleghart: This is simply not true. An OEM license is tied to a PHYSICAL installation. Period. Full Stop. Others have posted forum answers from MS reinforcing this, but if further proof is necessary, here is an official MS blog post saying the same WITH LINKS to MS's virtualization licensing FAQs.

In short, if you only have an OEM license, you cannot virtualize. Not even 1+1.

driftwood9267, This thread indicates that you can't change product keys between versions (OEM versus Vol.):  Link


I'll be the last one to ever say that licensing with Microsoft is ever clear-cut or consistent from year to year.  But I've never heard that 2008 OEM OS is limited to a physical-only installation, and disallows virtualization.  I have heard that for 2003.

Do you have a current/working link that says 2008 OEM Premium cannot use the 1+1?   The blog you referenced is old, and the user has no other activity since 2005.  The link to the referenced  "virtual machine licensing document" = "File not found".  From that blog entry (emphasis mine):

Any Microsoft Windows Server license acquired preinstalled with a new computer from a computer manufacturer is tied to the computer on which the licensed software is first installed. This applies to the initial copy installed on the computer as well as any subsequent copies licensed to run with virtual machine software

It still does not sound conclusive.  I've no doubt 2003 is not supported for virt., but 2008 Premium was released when 1+1 was getting some traction.

An actual MS documentthat discusses licensing states that SBS2008 Premium can run with Server2008 (physical) + SBS2008 (virt), and does not mention specific limitations for OEM licenses.  Link

Same information is listed in a licensing FAQ from Microsoft:  Link

I'm not on EE to argue. Multiple links from multiple commentors have been posted that all back up the fact that MS intends OEM licenses to run on the physical hardware (not virtual hardware) that the license is attached to. This hasn't changed in many years. If you want the freakin points that badly that you will lead someone down a path of illegal licensing, take 'em. I'm done.
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