Which changes trigger reactivation in a Windows guest?

Discussions about using Windows guests in VirtualBox.

Re: Activation issues with Windows guests.

Postby MarkCranness » 13. Oct 2009, 02:52

Microsoft Technet has info on how they decide if a re-activation is required:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb457054.aspx
... including what hardware is checked, and how many changes are required to trigger an activation.

Installations of Windows XP made using volume licensing media and volume license product keys (VLKs) will have no activation...

Microsoft provides OEMs with the ability to "pre-activate" Windows XP in the factory ... "System Locked Pre-installation," or SLP ... At boot, Windows XP compares the PC's BIOS to the SLP information. If it matches, no activation is required.
Every single piece of hardware could be changed on a PC with SLP and no reactivation would be required — even the motherboard could be replaced as long as the replacement motherboard was original equipment manufactured by the OEM and retained the proper BIOS.

The hardware hash is an eight byte value that is created by running 10 different pieces of information from the PC's hardware components...


Vista (not so much technical info on this...):
http://www.microsoft.com/uk/windows/pro ... onfaq.mspx
Windows Vista uses an algorithm to determine when changes to hardware are significant enough in nature to require re-activation. The algorithm used by Windows Vista is more flexible than that used by Windows XP, but each component change has an impact and adds up until you reach a pre-determined limit. ... Most users will find that Windows Vista activation is similar to activation in Windows XP, but easier
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Re: Activation issues with Windows guests.

Postby mpack » 13. Oct 2009, 11:09

Beware: this discussion was supposed to separate activation facts from fiction, i.e. using facts established by direct testing, not by taking hearsay at face value. The MS site is hearsay, the information and implications given may be right, or it may be wrong (or not the complete story).
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Re: Activation issues with Windows guests.

Postby kilves76 » 13. Oct 2009, 13:48

Yes indeed the legal validity of the licence terms depends at least on the country it has been sold in, and perhaps even on the country it is currently employed in, so can we now get onwards from this morose fruitless nitpicking into something more productive:

How to get a preactivated Windows OEM licence to work in VirtualBox. With practical information and examples please.
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Re: Activation issues with Windows guests.

Postby Sasquatch » 13. Oct 2009, 14:07

kilves76 wrote:How to get a preactivated Windows OEM licence to work in VirtualBox. With practical information and examples please.

That is not why this topic was created. It's goal is to determine what changes in the VM settings or environment (other HD UUID, VM UUID, etc) are causing a reactivation. As you can read on the first page, W7 triggers an activation when the VM UUID is changed.
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Re: Activation issues with Windows guests.

Postby mpack » 13. Oct 2009, 14:12

kilves76 wrote:How to get a preactivated Windows OEM licence to work in VirtualBox. With practical information and examples please.

I don't even know what you are asking for. If the copy is not BIOS locked (and being OEM does not mean that it is) then there is nothing special you need to do: you install it in the normal way and activate if prompted to do so. If the install CD is BIOS locked then you are asking how to circumvent anti piracy measures, and I don't intend to help with that, regardless of how legitimate you believe the question is.
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Re: Activation issues with Windows guests.

Postby kilves76 » 13. Oct 2009, 20:58

Dear mpack, let me iterate again:

I have a preactivated Dell OEM Windows XP Pro (no service packs, and I have made thereof also a distribution with SP3 and AHCI drivers) which can demonstratedly be installed to any real physical Dell computer (I have tried 3 separate ones, year models from 2001 to 2009), but I have not managed to install that to VB even modifying the BIOS DMI strings to Dell, without getting an activation necessary notice.

I have tried both the Dell strings posted here, and my own tries, none of which work. In case I have to spell it out for you, a preactivated copy is supposed to work without actication, and this is what I am trying to achieve; after all even this computer is a Dell and I can make a physical install with the said disk just fine.
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Re: Activation issues with Windows guests.

Postby Sasquatch » 13. Oct 2009, 21:19

kilves76 wrote:Dear mpack, let me iterate again:

I have a preactivated Dell OEM Windows XP Pro (no service packs, and I have made thereof also a distribution with SP3 and AHCI drivers) which can demonstratedly be installed to any real physical Dell computer (I have tried 3 separate ones, year models from 2001 to 2009), but I have not managed to install that to VB even modifying the BIOS DMI strings to Dell, without getting an activation necessary notice.

I have tried both the Dell strings posted here, and my own tries, none of which work. In case I have to spell it out for you, a preactivated copy is supposed to work without actication, and this is what I am trying to achieve; after all even this computer is a Dell and I can make a physical install with the said disk just fine.

Even if you have all the information you need, there is no definitive method to get it working. It's not in the manual, but there is a rule: it's not guaranteed to work.

And, I've said it before, and I'm saying it now again (I really, really hate to repeat myself): This thread is NOT meant for your answer. If you keep posting here, I'm forced to remove them.
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Re: Activation issues with Windows guests.

Postby mpack » 14. Oct 2009, 11:23

kilves76 wrote:Dear mpack, let me iterate again:

No need. I take no position on how legitimate what you are attempting to do is, however it is clearly off-topic. This discussion is not about circumventing or hacking Windows activation, it is about understanding what changes to VBox settings may provoke reactivation messages in an already working guest, so that users can avoid encountering these messages unnecessarily, and so that the VBox developers don't add features that make it awkward to use recent Windows guests in VBox (i.e. passing the VM UUID to the guest, resulting in Windows 7 wanting reactivation if the VM UUID changes).
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Re: Activation issues with Windows guests.

Postby straun » 14. Oct 2009, 15:11

I am trying to re-activate a Windows XP VM that I have cloned from a real machine (now with dead hardware). I managed to use a clean image (from a backup a week or so ago) create my vdi file, repaired the windows installation using XP SP3 disk, but... now it boots and requires activation, I say yes and the dialog disappears, the disk and network lights blink for a while and then nothing happens :? . I should be prompted for my key, but nothing happens.

Any ideas?
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Re: Activation issues with Windows guests.

Postby Sasquatch » 14. Oct 2009, 15:47

straun wrote:I am trying to re-activate a Windows XP VM that I have cloned from a real machine (now with dead hardware). I managed to use a clean image (from a backup a week or so ago) create my vdi file, repaired the windows installation using XP SP3 disk, but... now it boots and requires activation, I say yes and the dialog disappears, the disk and network lights blink for a while and then nothing happens :? . I should be prompted for my key, but nothing happens.

Any ideas?

As I said two posts up, this thread is not meant for this. This is about WHEN it happens on VB, which settings are causing it. No P2V or whatever is discussed here, because that gives a reactivation 100% of the time.
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See the Tutorials and FAQ section at the top of the Forum for more guides.
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Re: Activation issues with Windows guests.

Postby mpack » 14. Oct 2009, 16:08

straun wrote:but... now it boots and requires activation, I say yes and the dialog disappears, the disk and network lights blink for a while and then nothing happens :? . I should be prompted for my key, but nothing happens.


Again, this is somewhat off-topic. However... Reactivation does not prompt for a new CD key (except for the phone call method that Sasquatch pointed out before), but you should get an acknowledgement of successful activation. I would leave activation aside for now, you need to first make sure that internet access is working from the guest. As a last resort you can activate with a phone call. If you require any further help then please start a dedicated discussion topic for it, as here is not the place.
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Re: Activation issues with Windows guests.

Postby straun » 14. Oct 2009, 16:19

Sasquatch wrote:As I said two posts up, this thread is not meant for this. This is about WHEN it happens on VB, which settings are causing it. No P2V or whatever is discussed here, because that gives a reactivation 100% of the time.

That is not a very helpful response to my first post and I don't quite understand what you are talking about. I want to discuss an activation issue with a Windows guest on VB, so I will raise it in another thread (perhaps with the same name).
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Re: Activation issues with Windows guests.

Postby Sasquatch » 14. Oct 2009, 16:21

straun wrote:
Sasquatch wrote:As I said two posts up, this thread is not meant for this. This is about WHEN it happens on VB, which settings are causing it. No P2V or whatever is discussed here, because that gives a reactivation 100% of the time.

That is not a very helpful response to my first post and I don't quite understand what you are talking about. I want to discuss an activation issue with a Windows guest on VB, so I will raise it in another thread (perhaps with the same name).

That issue isn't discussed here. This topic is for what VB settings trigger it.
Read the Forum Posting Guide before opening a topic.
VirtualBox FAQ: Check this before asking questions.
Online User Manual: A must read if you want to know what we're talking about.
Howto: Install Linux Guest Additions
Howto: Use Shared Folders on Linux Guest
See the Tutorials and FAQ section at the top of the Forum for more guides.
Try searching the forums first with Google and add the site filter for this forum.
E.g. install guest additions site:forums.virtualbox.org

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Re: Activation issues with Windows guests.

Postby Martin » 14. Oct 2009, 16:39

Maybe you could change the thread title to "Which changes trigger a reactivation in a Windows guest?"

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Re: Activation issues with Windows guests.

Postby mpack » 14. Oct 2009, 16:44

Sasquatch wrote:That issue isn't discussed here. This topic is for what VB settings trigger it.

However... perhaps the title I chose for this discussion is inadvertantly broad, making it understandable that people mistake its purpose. Can the title be changed? Perhaps to "What triggers reactivation in Windows guests"? That's just an off the cuff suggestion, you may think of something better.
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