I've been using hyper-v to create my base images for deployment to workstations. I create them on a Dell PowerEdge 2900 server running Windows Server enterprise 2008.

The Dell OEM key does not activate the guest O/S.

The server was originally purchased without an operating system. The O/S was purchased separately and is in a Microsoft VLSC account, so it does not have a COA with a virtual key (which dell indicates would be one solution)

Are there any other options?

  • Why do you need to active the Guest OS?
    – Chris S
    Jul 11, 2012 at 20:06
  • Because windows updates don't function without being activated. I keep my base images for a long period of time, and just update them periodically, rather than re-create them from scratch.
    – Force Flow
    Jul 11, 2012 at 20:17
  • Which OEM key are you referring to? If the server was purchased without an OS, it shouldn't have come with one.
    – NathanG
    Jul 11, 2012 at 21:07
  • I am not up to date with server 2008 and win7 OEM, but back in the days of XP and Dell computers it worked as follows: 1) Dell OEM installs activated via a recognised key the the BIOS. This only works on the bare metal. An install via a Dell OEM CD/DVD would not activate in a VM. (Since the VM would be emulating its own BIOS and not a specific signed Dell BIOS). 2) I was told that OEM licences where connected to a specific computer and that use if OEM versions of windows in virtual environments was NOT allowed. I am not sure this is 100% true (but I am sure that is what I was told).
    – Hennes
    Jul 11, 2012 at 23:08
  • @NathanG: Exactly. I don't have a virtual key, nor does there seem to be a way to obtain it after the fact.
    – Force Flow
    Jul 12, 2012 at 1:05

3 Answers 3


To address the title of your question, you don't.

To address the content of your question, get a non-OEM key that doesn't violate the EULA.

  • I called Microsoft, and after getting bounced around between 5 different departments, I finally got an answer (thought not the one I was hoping for). The stand-alone VLSC server 2008 license does not provide any activation capabilities for guest OSes.
    – Force Flow
    Jul 19, 2012 at 19:58
  • Right. I was suggesting that you make a purchase that would allow you to use the product in a way that complies with the EULA.
    – MDMarra
    Jul 19, 2012 at 19:59

If you bought your licenses via some sort of Microsoft Volume Licensing agreement, then your keys should be available within the VLSC portal. Presumably, you got the ISO for Windows from there - just go to the Product Keys area and use those to activate your system.

The documentation you describe is for using the license and media that would have come with the system if you bought Windows with the server - so it isn't really applicable to the situation.

Edit: It seems like there's some serious confusion about how licensing works. I'd recommend you find someone who can help you with the basics. I'll also add that licensing is hard, so there's only so far we can help you here. But at bottom, you have to license at least two instances of Windows - the Hyper-V host, and each guest. Consider them to be separate devices - each must have a proper license, and its appropriate key.

(And I see someone mentioned Win7 earlier. You're not trying to activate Win7 with a Server license, are you? That won't work at all.)

  • The only keys that I'm seeing for 2008 server are for 2008 server. I don't see anything for hyper-v.
    – Force Flow
    Jul 12, 2012 at 12:01
  • Hyper-V is a service of Server 2008. If you activate Server 2008, that'll include Hyper-V.
    – NathanG
    Jul 12, 2012 at 15:58
  • I was under the impression that a server 2008 key did not activate guest OSes. Only in server 2003 was that available.
    – Force Flow
    Jul 13, 2012 at 2:59
  • The key for the host won't activate the guest - see the edit to my answer.
    – NathanG
    Jul 13, 2012 at 14:02
  • No, I'm not trying to activate win7 with a server license.
    – Force Flow
    Jul 16, 2012 at 12:13

Use the key for Windows 2008 server found in the VLSC portal. Hyper-v is the thing inside the host emulating a computer that is running you guest OS. To activate the guest OS do as you would with a regular system and use the windows 2008 key.


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