I am being asked to set up a battery of windows 7 flavours for a guy over in QA using VM's so that his office isn't filled with boxen. Is the common practice to activate these temporary machines or do folks just set them up, run the tests and then reload after a while.

Does this even matter?


I've been testing it on a machine and I don't bother to activate as I usually rebuild that machine every other week to test something else. If you plan to use those VM for longer than the period before activation I'd say yes, activate them.


Depends on your exact needs, but you should have a standardized Virtual Machine, activated or not, then make a fresh copy and run the tests when you need to.


I don't know about Win7, but we're gold partners and while we get 500 licenses for Vista Business/Enterprise, we get 1 license for Vista Ultimate. Activating that on test virtuals burned that single lincense for us, and we have to call to get it activated.

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    As a gold partner, you get unlimited test and development licenses. Check out the benefits package to see which license you need to be using for test. – Doug Luxem Aug 25 '09 at 19:01
  • It used to be an unholy terror trying to call in and get a license renewed, but the new interface got rid of all that. (from a US perspective, I don't know if MS is funky about this elsewhere?) – Kara Marfia Aug 25 '09 at 20:06

This will absolutely depend on your license agreement. We have extremely flexible licensing for testing/development purposes, which is exactly what you're doing. Our desktop license count has proven to be effectively unlimited, as we simply get a new key whenever the old ones are used up by the constant VM churn.

Someone enlighten me if I'm mistaken, but there's nothing shady at all about installing and using a copy until the activation runs out. No need to borrow trouble if the VMs won't be in QA long enough to explode.


If you're using test or development licenses (such as those bundled with TechNet or MSDN subscriptions), I would suggest not activating the installation unless you specifically need to use the test server beyond the evaluation period. The main reason is that Microsoft usually does not allow reactivation of used TechNet or MSDN licenses. [Edited based on comment]

If you are using regular retail licenses, this is less of an issue, except that activating the new machine will likely involve a call to Microsoft to document the license transfer.

The following option probably does not apply to you, but it's worth mentioning for the benefit of others: If you are using volume licenses, then activation is not ever necessary, but you should let your license administrator know of the change, so that your organization remains in compliance with the terms of the volume license agreement.

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    Not true - when I exhaust the allotted activations on one of my MSDN keys, I log into the site, hit "get new key" and keep on going. – Kara Marfia Aug 25 '09 at 18:49
  • Thanks for pointing that out—I stand corrected. I'll strike that part of my answer out accordingly. The underlying reasoning is still valid, though, even if MS has loosened their grip for MSDN subscribers. – Jessica McKinnon Aug 25 '09 at 22:36

If these VM's are only going to exist a few weeks, I wouldn't bother activiating. The system will run frin for 30 days without activation.

If you are testing for more than 30 days you can extend your 30 day count-down up to three times with this command:

slmgr -rearm

This must be run from an elevated prompt, requires a restart afterward, and does not violate the EULA.

However, if you're going to take these VM's offline for awhile and come back to them later I highly recomend activating. Turning on a VM after 6 months that's deactivated because the grace period has experied is a huge annoyance.

  • No worries, I've been in this situation many times since Vista rolled and I just used this answer for a co-worker so I get something out of it too :-) – Bob Aug 26 '09 at 15:41

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