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XP activation on VMWare

  I backed up XP OS from a desktop PC with certain software installed.
  My goal is to move it to Virtual Machine in VMWare box.
  So I created *.bak backup file using Windows backup.
  Then I created a new virtual machine with XP OS and did not even joined the domain.
  I restored *.bak file, it went successfully. After the restart, it showed me domain login screen. But when I enter the password, it keeps asking me to activate Windows.

  No matter what I enter (I tried the product key that was attached to the original desktop along with a few other product keys from other retired XP computers), it says it can't activate and give me the screen where I can call MS activation center, but there is no phone number that used to be there. I wonder because XP has passed its product life recently?

  There is an important business software running on the desktop PC and we like to get rid of that desktop. I thought I could simply backup that desktop XP OS and restore it to XP VM in VMWare box. But apparently it is not so simply.

  Any suggestions?
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10 Solutions
Seth SimmonsSr. Systems AdministratorCommented:
I tried the product key that was attached to the original desktop...

is this OEM?  if so, you can't virualize it; at least not legally
sgleeAuthor Commented:
Yes it is HP desktop PC.
When you say "you can't virualize", what do you mean?
I have created XP VMs in the past and used the product keys that came with any XP PCs and they worked just fine.
 Although this is first time I ever restored XP from the backup.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
You can virtual use it but the Activation is likely to break with OEM software.

You will need to

1. Apply a Retail product key.
2. Apply a Volume product key.
3. Ring Microsoft to Reactivate.
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If you have PC's running Windows 7 Pro (or Ultimate or Enterprise), download and install Windows XP mode. That is a free and officially supported, and already activated version of XP running within M$'s Virtual PC. Install your important Business software that doesn't run in Windows 7 anymore within that VM.

If needed, you can then use the VMware Converter Standalone to convert the VM to a VMware supported VM (If the converter is already installed, and you have VMware Player or Workstation, there is an option in either to do this automatically).

You issue is that with OEM software from folks like HP and Dell,the OS is keyed to the BIOS of the OEM machine.

If it does not see an HP BIOS it will not activate.

Basically piracy protection.

So you are out of luck.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
The official line is:-

Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) versions

Note: Physical-to-virtual hard drive migration of a Windows installation is a valid function for customers with Software Assurance and full retail copies of Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. Software Assurance provides users valuable benefits—please contact Microsoft Corporation for further information. Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 installed by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) using OEM versions of these products may not be transferred to a virtual hard drive in accordance with Microsoft licensing terms.



It's a breach of the OEM software License.

BUT, I hear that the OEM software license was challenged in Europe, and Microsoft Lost!

So, it depends on your country of origin, in the UK, we Ring up Microsoft Activation Hotline, and they are Happy to Re-Activate OEM copies, that are P2Ved.

Dell and HP OEM copies which are locked to BIOS is a different function, that just a Product Key.

If you have a Dell or HP host, this can also be configured and overcome.
M$ pulled the activation servers for XP (and I think SBS 2003), so any reactivation will require a phone call to M$.

That was what I was told at a conference about a year ago concerning  XP EOL.

I basically asked the question, if a user needs to reinstall XP after that date ,will it still activate, and that was the answer from the M$ rep.

I believe the same thing will apply to Server 2003 when it goes EOL.
For the above reasons, I suggest using XP mode, as that should still be downloadable and you don't need to activate. Of course you would need to install your business application, but that shouldn't be any problem.
Be mindful if you are using this software online. XP is out of lfecycle. There will be no more support packages.
sgleeAuthor Commented:
"install your business application"  --> The problem is that we don't have the original business software and that was the reason I was trying to restore it to the VM instead of installing XP, activiate it and install the business software.
☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
There is no shutdown date for XP or 2K3 Server online activation
M$ clarified this for XP in the;r EOL FAQ

Can Windows XP still be activated after April 8, 2014?

Windows XP can still be installed and activated after end of support. Computers running Windows XP will still work but they won’t receive any Microsoft Updates or be able to leverage technical support. Activations will still be required for retail installations of Windows XP after this date as well.

If you need telephone activation the worldwide list is here
 (it's badged as Volume Licensing but each is the activation centre for all Microsoft products in that locale).

The most likely reason for failure to activate is the OEM issue.  If you are based in a European (EU) country Microsoft have agreed (somewhat reluctantly) to transfer your activation to another machine including a VM.  The software protection isn't aware of the court ruling though so you'll need Microsoft to manually intervene with an activation code.

It's probably also worth noting here that since around 2008 OEM CoA stickers from the major manufacturers including HP will not work with most OEM systems for activation as these are preactivated once the BIOS code is recognised (SLP)
sgleeAuthor Commented:
Thanks for clarifying the issue.
Fyi, a few days ago, I installed Windows 7 VM and was able to activate it using my brand new DELL desktop Product Key.

That said, I need to figure out how to restore just "business app" from the backup file.
Apparently restoring entire OS from the backup creates this activation issue.
Any suggestion?
There are commercial products available that are supposed to help move software from one PC and OS to another. I have never used those so I can't say how well they work. If I'm not mistaken, one of them is called "PC Mover", and another "LapLink"...
☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
If you have a VL or Retail licence for XP available you can carry out a Repair/Reinstall on the VM install, this will change the ProductID of the installation but should leave the registry pretty much unchanged so that anything installed in the image remains functional.  That will remove the OEM issue and you either add a Retail Key or the VLK is automatically applied to activate.

See: http://www.experts-exchange.com/OS/Microsoft_Operating_Systems/Windows/XP/A_3218-XP-OEM-and-the-repair-reinstallation-a-cautionary-tale.html
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