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Can you help me with my software licensing question?

I have Windows 7 Ultimate running on my computer, and I thought I would set up a few virtual machines to help me when I develop so I don't mess up my main system with various installations of SQL Server, Visual Studio versions, etc.

Is it allowed (or even possible) to use the same product key for the virtual machines? Or would I need to get a new product key for each virtual machine?

Is Windows 7 Enterprise different when it comes to this matter?

(Maybe this belongs on stack overflow or super user, but felt virtualization and licensing issues like that belonged more on server fault. Please move if not =)

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marked as duplicate by voretaq7 Feb 11 '12 at 3:47

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
This being on SF works for me –  squillman Aug 12 '09 at 19:10

5 Answers 5

up vote 6 down vote accepted

No, only one XP instance for the XP Mode feature is normally allowed on Ultimate. But if you have Software Assurance, it comes with virtual OS rights for Enterprise and Ultimate which allow you to run four virtual instances of the operating system on the same hardware.

For reference see this post.

Also check out Windows 7 modifies license rights. And Enterprise is a benefit of Software Assurance, so you can't get Enterprise without Software Assurance - hence Enterprise is by default covered by Virtual OS rights.

***Even windows 7 ultimate can be used. The only difference is you can install it on only one virtual platform and cant setup 4 machines like software Assurance

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Do you have a reference or link that confirms this? –  Zoredache Aug 12 '09 at 20:11
    
Added a link. Of course, nothing is official until Ultimate hits retail and we can see the final EULA. –  Doug Luxem Aug 13 '09 at 2:52
    
So would that mean you can use the same product key for four windows 7 virtual machines running on that computer? –  Svish Aug 13 '09 at 9:10
    
That's what it looks like (for Enterprise and Ultimate). It will be interesting to see the details on this when it is released. –  Doug Luxem Aug 13 '09 at 14:23
    
What does is Software Assurance coverage? How do I know if I have that? - "Use up to four instances of Windows in virtual OS environments for each license that has active Software Assurance coverage." –  Svish Sep 28 '09 at 10:25

From the windows 7 ultimate Software licence terms:

Use with Virtualization Technologies: Instead of using the software directly on the licensed computer, you may install and use the software within only one virtual (or otherwise emulated) hardware system on the licensed computer.

This seems to mean that a virtual machine is exactly like a separate physical machine when it comes to licencing. ("Instead of...").

The deal where you get to run 4 VM's on one licence seems to be part of a separate add-on licencing deal (software assurance), not the standard licence.

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Aha... yeah, that seems logical. –  Svish Feb 15 '10 at 14:03

It depends on how long you need the VMs for. If you don't need them for too long, or don't mind re-installing every once in a while, just use a trial version and don't activate it.

See this little gem from Microsoft. Specifically this line.

In development and testing environments that use retail editions, take advantage of the grace period.
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I believe you need a new product key (legally), and I believe this to be the case with all flavours of the product - even with VLP.

If what you were suggesting is possible, all a large organisation would need to do is purchase a single 7 license, create countless virtual instances, and deploy to their users (VM-View etc). Not a business model for Microsoft that's conducive to staying in business.

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You must obtain a license for each install, regardless of how many are virtual, and regardless even of how many of the installs are on one computer. Look into the Windows 7 Family Pack or Volume Licensing if you need many.

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