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I need to create a "Lab" environment of my production 2003 domain server with Exchange2003, before purchasing new hardware & software to migrate in real-time.

I installed VMware onto my laptop and created a Windows 2003 server VM to ensure I could actually achieve what is needed. I the used Acronis to image the server and booted the VM guest using that image which seems to boot fine. However ran into a problem immediately, the original server is OEM so its asking me to activate again on the VM ionstall,

I am worried that should I activate this for testing purposes the actual live machine will be disabled, that wouldn't go down well.

Am I able to activate this by phone with MS and leave live working so I can test the solution works? Failing that could I boot the VM server image and simply run a repair from Windows 2003 boot disk, would that leave my server intact but rectify the registration options?

Any other ideas much appreciated, sure I'm not the first in this position?

Kind regards


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up vote 1 down vote accepted

You can do a recovery install over the top to change it to the volume licencing or standard version. You do still need a licence for test copies though, not a problem if you have MSDN covering it.

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When you say recovery install, you mean boot from 2003 CD and select enter | F8 | R to repair current installation? Thanks – gary Jul 2 '10 at 9:47
correct. boot, choose install windows, repair this copy of windows. note that this is the 2nd repair option you are offered on the 2003 disc (NOT the repair using recovery console) – JamesRyan Jul 2 '10 at 13:50

About the licensing: MS OEM licensing is tied to the original hardware and can't be moved to another host under any conditions, including a P2V virtualisation.

About the migration: P2V of Domain Controllers is fraught with problems. The same is true of Exchange servers. A combo server with both is a double-whammy. I would (quite firmly) recommend that you instead look at creating a fresh server installation, install the Exchange server and domain controller roles, then migrate your directory data and messaging stores into the new environment.

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Thanks Chris, I will give MS a call for best temp solution, my boss will never allow me to purchase the servers & software unless I can demo it operational, must be a common scenario for small companies. Yes I agree with P2V of AD/Exchange but I used Acronis Echo Server with UR for this so was interested to see how it goes. That was the sole intention of purchasing Acronis to be honest, quick restore in DR scenario. regards – gary Jul 2 '10 at 9:50
Your main concern in an AD environment is avoiding a 'USN Rollback'. If this is a single domain-controller environment, then usually the problem is mitigated. If you have other DCs in the environment, then your best course of action will be to shut down all DCs for the duration of the clone. It's possible to recover from a USN rollback, but a situation you never want to end up in if at all avoidable ;) – Chris Thorpe Jul 2 '10 at 12:23
Yes it is single DC, have managed to boot up now and apart from having to reinstall SPs all looks OK. I have separated the host VM from domain, assigned the DC its correct static IP and both Exchange & AD, seem operational. Am about to create an XP vm to see if I can change passwords, receive mail etc. looking good though thankyou. – gary Jul 2 '10 at 13:57

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